“We had a big grow year in 2006,” Ryan notes. “We had 43 employees and we were rolling pretty good. And then the whole economy crashed and we went down to having four tractors and three guys. And it was actually humbling. It was a good experience for us to go through because then we were able to set ourselves up on down the road after we kind of made a comeback. We did it a little bit smarter.”
Those leaner years helped Ryan develop a better approach to recruiting, and now he makes use of things like Instagram to attract new talent.
“[In setting up my Instagram], my thoughts went to, ‘Let's see if I can find guys who are looking for work, who like this type of work and who do this type of work and then possibly see how far the reach goes.’” Ryan notes.
His current team is made up of 7 full-time employees and 1 part-time employee, some of whom connected with Ryan through social media, with more operators coming within the next few months. Ryan likes to give interested operators from across the country a trial period if they are serious about wanting to join his crew.
“I have them come out and try out for a week,” he says. “And I tell them at the end of the week I'll pay for your work that you've done with us and we'll evaluate it. You evaluate us, we evaluate you. If it's good for both parties, let's make it happen.”
His approach to finding the right crew doesn’t stop there: it also extends to training.
“I don't really care if they don't know how to run a piece of equipment because for the right guy, we'll teach them,” Ryan comments. “And if they don't know how to do the work, for the right guy, with the right work ethic, we will teach him. We'll help them to learn.”
The career growth and learning he gets to watch in his crew is one of Ryan’s favorite parts of the job.
“Just seeing the guys progress, that's what's important to me,” says Ryan. “That's what makes it fun to me. You know, you go in there and explain it to them and you show them and you work with them. And next thing you know, the next project comes around and they can do it no problem.”
Besides having a hardworking team, Ryan has also found the technology and machinery he uses on the job to be a huge help. He cites 2D and 3D grading systems as one of the best technologies he’s added to his fleet.
“That’s probably been the single most efficient, effective way we’ve been able to improve our business,” he says.
When it comes to equipment, Ryan and his team operate a mixed fleet, which includes a few Cat compact track loaders, and a 308 mini excavator. He’s found that his Cat machines have great longevity.