A Leap of Faith
Dynahoe Construction & Excavating thrives on challenge
No matter the height, sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, according to Nick Mets, Superintendent of Dynahoe Construction & Excavating (Dynahoe). When a grain elevator company asked Dynahoe to tear down a 200-foot grain silo, Nick knew it would be a challenge. “We’ve torn down a lot of houses over the years, but never something so tall,” he says. Dynahoe, however, relishes taking on new challenges. The company accepted the job, hired a demolition company with a crane and wrecking ball to take the structure down to 30 feet off the ground. From there, Dynahoe’s team finished the demolition until the structure was flush with the ground. The customer was so impressed, Dynahoe was given two months of additional work. “We were originally hired to take a 200-foot structure down to the ground, but we chased that project all the way underground, excavating and preparing the foundation,” Nick says. “When we’re faced with new challenges, we put our heads together, find a way to do it and take that leap of faith.”
This approach has paid off for the construction and excavation company, headquartered in Circleville, Ohio. In its 35 years in business, Dynahoe has ever widened its capabilities. The company’s services include excavation, site preparation, utility work, grading, trenching and concrete work for foundations, footers, basements, flatwork, sidewalks, steps and driveways. Additional services include block and poured concrete walls, stamped concrete installation and demolition. “As a company, we’re a jack of all trades,” Nick says. “We pour concrete, we lay pipe and we do grading for commercial, residential and industrial customers.”
The company takes on both small and large projects. Its four crews can be found working on four to five different projects a day. Project sizes can range from $2,000 on up to $400,000, all within a radius of an hour and a half from Circleville. “In one day, we might be laying the utilities at a Starbucks, excavating and preparing a site for a new basement or fixing a residential customer’s water line,” Nick says.
Another Piece of the Pie
Dynahoe’s culture of resourcefulness can be traced all the way to its roots. Back in 1985, the Mets brothers, Mike, Jim and Terry, gathered together in their newly built garage in their hometown of Ashville, Ohio. “It was at the tail end of high school for me. We had remodeled our parents’ home and built a new garage. I remember standing around in that garage talking about how we should start a company,” says Co-Founder and Co-Owner Mike. “We had already been doing construction work around town. If we got into the excavation business, we’d no longer have to pay someone to install water and gas lines and prepare footings. We could take another piece of the pie.” The trio purchased a backhoe, trailer and a used dump truck. “We called the company Dynahoe after the brand name of the backhoe,” he says.
With families to support, the company founders balanced full-time jobs with the burgeoning business. “I worked at General Electric (GE) throughout my 20s, and Jim maintained machines for Liquibox. We were doing all we could to make a nickel and ensure our families survived,” Mike says.
He explains that in the company’s early years every job felt like a big job. “One of our first big projects was for a farmer that I used to work for. We used our backhoe to install drain tile.”
While Mike worked at GE, his preteen son, Nick, began working on-site with an older field employee. Before long, Mike made the decision to quit his job at GE and join his son in the field. “I had quite a good job with General Electric, but we had generated enough cash and felt we had come far enough for me to quit my job and continue moving this business forward full time,” he says.
Venturing into the Commercial Industry
The Dynahoe team spent many years exclusively serving the residential industry. “In the late 1990s, we made the decision to do less construction and more earthwork,” Mike says. When the housing bubble burst in 2008, the company fearlessly ventured into commercial work. “There was definitely a learning curve in the switch. We learned some hard lessons at first,” he notes. “A lot of our residential business was done on a handshake. There’s a lot more paperwork with commercial projects, and we had to learn how to price projects right.”
Nick adds that he thrives on commercial work. “Instead of working on two to three jobs a day, we’re working on one project for two to three weeks. I like that they’re longer projects and you get to go more in-depth with the work,” he says.
In 2017, Dynahoe’s willingness to take a leap of faith on a small project once again led to more follow-on work. “While I was on vacation, I got a call from a large contractor who needed excavation help on a single-family subdivision with 90 lots. When we got there, we found a 5,000-foot, 8-inch sanitary main that was 26 feet deep with 30 concrete sanitary sections needed,” Nick says. Knowing the company didn’t have the machinery necessary to complete the work, the team decided to purchase an excavator twice as large as their biggest machine. “Within a week or two, we were on that 100,000-pound excavator setting manholes and laying sanitary.”
The customer was so impressed, Dynahoe was contracted to do additional work on the project, including more sanitary structures, grading lots and widening the road. “We started with sanitary excavation and worked our way through all the way to the punch list at the end, helping the customer navigate county approval so he could start selling the lots,” Nick says.
Serving a small town like Circleville means taking an active role in supporting the community, according to Mike. “We were born and raised nearby and have a lot of hometown pride,” Mike says. In addition to employing veterans, the company lends its support to a variety of causes, including local sports teams, a downtown mural project, the Soldiers Monumental Association of Pickaway County Ohio and Habitat for Humanity.
“Our money is earned here and it stays here,” Nick adds.
“Our employees’ kids are out there playing T-ball and going to school here. When people walk through our door asking for help, we do the best we can to support them,” Mike says.
Dynahoe also works hard to support its employees. “They’ve seen us ankle deep in concrete and muck. Employees know we’re not asking them to do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves. We’re out there on the job working alongside them when they need it,” Nick says.
Though it’s normal to expect the unexpected in the construction industry, according to Mike, the company always strives to do the right thing. “In construction, some days bring bigger challenges than others—whether its design issues, bad weather or something unexpected that you encounter during excavation. What keeps our customers coming back project after project is that we’re honest and transparent, and we work hard to resolve and correct problems and move on,” he says.
The company treats customers’ money like it’s their own, says Nick. “People work hard for their money. You don’t replace $2,500 worth of pieces and parts when you can get away with $1,000. We treat their money like it’s coming out of our own pockets.”
That approach, along with Dynahoe’s diverse array of services, keeps the company busy. “This business was never something that was just handed to us. We built it from the ground up, and we work hard for it,” Mike says.
“We’ve been scared of taking on new challenges,” adds Nick, “but you buckle down and you do it. At the end of the day, you’re in the business to make money and to support families. If a bigger machine or a new service offering gets us on the job and gets our foot in the door with something new, it’s a gamble that pays off.”