The Complete Package in Site Development
Land-Tech Enterprises, Inc. is in the land development business
If you think construction of a new building is just about the building itself, Mark Stein at Land-Tech Enterprises, Inc. (Land-Tech) would argue that the site development completed before the construction of the building is just as important, perhaps most important.
“Before construction of the building can start,” Mark says, “we’re there clearing the undeveloped property, shaping the terrain and making sure erosion control measures are in place. In the course of construction, we prepare sites to become pad-ready as well as prepare the installation of all underground utilities.”
“Once utilities are completed, Land-Tech will return to install concrete curbs and sidewalks, then asphalt paving for roads and parking areas. Then comes installation of the finishing touches, such as turf grass, shrubs, rain gardens and fencing to complete the new construction,” he says.
He adds, “We’re the complete package, providing services from start to finish. We work with all different types of clients, from national developers and residential homebuilders to commercial and municipal clients.”
The company was founded in 1989. He and his wife, Jackie LaCross, stress that as a family-operated business, they don’t place importance on titles. However, they do emphasize being family-operated. Their nephew Shane joined the company in 2012 and son Jason in 2020.
Land-Tech employs 75 to 100 workers, depending on seasonal demand, at its headquarters in Warrington, Pennsylvania. The company serves a large portion of eastern Pennsylvania, from the Lehigh Valley to Bucks County and into Philadelphia. Their customer base extends to Jersey Shore towns and in Delaware as far north as Wilmington.
“We like to say we’re a small business with big-company resources,” Mark says. “We serve a large area with extensive capabilities, but we give our customers the personal touch of a family-run operation. We work collaboratively with all clients and solve problems before they arise. We must be doing something right, because 90% of our business is from repeat customers.”
From Tree Surgery to Land Improvement
Land-Tech started with a heritage of working outdoors. For more than five decades, Mark’s father, Paul operated the Bucks County Tree Company, a business primarily concerned with land clearing for major pipeline companies. Mark grew up working for him, although his inclination was to plant trees, not remove them. Still, on his father’s watch he learned the techniques of clearing undeveloped landscapes.
Mark decided to stick with the land, graduating from Temple University with a degree in landscaping in 1989. Even before they got married, he and Jackie started Land-Tech with the goal of having their own company—one that focused on site development.
“At first,” Jackie says, “we found jobs grading athletic fields, providing erosion control for Waste Management of Pennsylvania within their landfills and offering trade services for several large general contractors, performing earth moving.”
“Over time, we expanded to high-end residential landscape design-build and worked with schools to design-build multipurpose athletic fields,” she adds.
During the 1990s, the couple transformed the company into its complete-package site developer persona. This meant adding capabilities like the placement of site work, earth walls, retaining walls, construction of “hardscape” features, poured-rubber playground surfaces, underground utility infrastructure preparation and the placement of large wetlands.
Clients Large and Small
“We relish taking on start-to-finish site development projects,” Shane says, “but of course, we welcome jobs that involve specific tasks, like stormwater management and infrastructure reconstruction.”
He cites a range of full-site projects, all in Pennsylvania, as diverse as residential communities like West Tract in Warrington, hotels like Home2 Suites by Hilton in Horsham, and stand-alone businesses like the Porsche and Audi Warrington dealerships and a Starbucks coffee shop in Fort Washington. Land-Tech has provided full-site services for three ground-up Amazon fulfillment centers in both Pennsylvania and Delaware.
“Our public projects also vary,” Shane says. “Examples include installation of Officer Daniel Boyle Park in Philadelphia and an extensive stream bed restoration in White’s Road Park in Lansdale Borough, as well as Antietam Lake Park improvements in Berks County.
Land-Tech was hired to replace an underground storm chamber that had collapsed underneath a parking lot at Harriton High School in Rosemont. Workers excavated the 14-foot-deep section, removed 5,000 linear feet of 60-inch HDPE pipe and replaced it with 60-inch corrugated aluminum pipe.
Another job was to rehabilitate the Skytop Dam in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The Land-Tech team found itself drawing down the water in the 65-acre Mountain Lake behind it to work on the dam’s vertical faces. “Water is a natural eroder,” Jackie notes, “so the work was to repair deterioration of the earthen dam structure, to stabilize it and also to repair the roadway that ran across the top of the dam.”
To complete the project, Land-Tech workers installed articulating concrete blocks (ACBs) over the dam’s vertical surfaces to stabilize the structure and created bio-retention gardens of vegetation to slow and filter silt from the flowing water. They reinstalled concrete curbing and sidewalks, then repaved the roadway over the structure.
“We’re the complete package, providing services from start to finish. We work with all different types of clients, from national developers and residential homebuilders to commercial and municipal clients.” Mark Stein, Land-Tech Enterprises, Inc.
Landfills and Streambeds
In site development, land clearing and erosion control tend to go hand in hand. The most obvious signs of erosion control are silt sock and silt fences erected along construction sites as temporary barriers to silt-laden water runoff.
But sometimes erosion control requires more extensive measures, with bulldozers and front loaders as the essential tools. Land-Tech’s ongoing services for Waste Management of Pennsylvania within its landfills extend to wetland mitigation measures—contouring the topography to direct water flow, excavating swales to provide stream channels, hydroseeding appropriate banks and planting vegetation in wet areas to slow and filter moving water.
At Aquetong Spring Park in Solebury Township, the project wasn’t so much to stabilize an existing streambed. It was to restore a natural stream path following removal of a dam below Aquetong Spring.
Shane notes, “We graded and reinforced the streambanks with natural wood-based log-and-coir geotextiles, created step pools to slow down the flow of water, hydroseeded the banks and installed wetland plantings to slow and filter the water as it flowed. We put logs and root balls in the streambed and planted native trees along the banks to enhance the stream as a natural habitat for brook trout.”
Car Dealerships and Police Stations
Mark cites two projects that he is proud of in Warrington for Land-Tech’s complete package capabilities: construction of the new Warrington Township Police Station and of a new home for Porsche Warrington and Audi Warrington auto dealerships. The two jobs weren’t related, but both involved the same full range of services.
“The police station work involved about 2 acres of land, while the auto dealerships about three. Each involved building site-work, driveway and parking areas and land maintained for erosion control,” Mark says. “In both cases, the work began with dropping the trees with chain saws and moving them out with skidders.”
“We used dozers, trackhoes and off-road and on-road trucks to perform earthwork, clear underbrush and grade the land for the building sites, parking areas and access roadways. Our equipment carries GPS technology to ensure that we meet the engineers’ specifications.” Excess dirt was exported to new sites, and the felled trees were chipped to be processed into mulch.
For both projects, Land-Tech excavated trenches for underground utilities, prepared the ground for the building’s concrete footings and slabs, and installed water and drainage pipes. The next steps were laying down blacktop asphalt pavement in the parking and roadway areas, then pouring concrete curbing and sidewalks.
“After that,” Mark says, “it’s pretty much a matter of putting in the landscaping as the property is turned back over to the owner. The final touches of site development is what makes the project look polished and complete.”
‘A Multiverse Workforce’
Working on a project does not require everyone involved to be on-site at the same time. Most of Land-Tech’s employees use their individual skill sets to be experts on specialized aspects of the work. For example, one employee would focus on land clearing, another on asphalt paving.
With four to 10 projects going on at any time, Mark says, the company sends different specialists to each site as they are needed in a complex choreography of construction activity. Workers are cross-trained so that they can assist with many functions, but the ideal is to send in the specialists.
“We are a multiverse company and attention to detail is key,” he says. “We can manage a multitude of projects, all at different stages. Like I said before, we are family-operated. When you are employed by Land-Tech, you are not just an employee, you are part of the family. We benefit from job longevity. Many of our employees have been with us for at least 10 years. Some have been here for their whole careers.
“This is hard work and relationships are everything,” he says. “You need to keep sight of your end goal, which is the finalized product. It’s extremely satisfying to be able to drive around and see thriving businesses knowing that we’ve played an important role in their creation. Brick-and-mortar construction gets the public’s attention, but we know that what we do is as important to a project’s success as the structure itself.
“And,” he adds, “we’re very good at it.”