Ryan Goodfellow:  A Rock-Solid Crew
Ryan Goodfellow:  A Rock-Solid Crew

Ryan Goodfellow:
A Rock-Solid Crew

Ryan Goodfellow of Rock Structures Utility & Excavating has always felt that a large part of the job comes down to creativity and the hard work to pull off a vision.  With the right team, he’s been able to deliver quality work for his customers for the past 23 years.

Ryan Goodfellow, owner of Rock Structures Utility & Excavating and Cat® Ambassador, has found that there’s one thing people often get wrong about the construction industry.

“A lot of people think that moving dirt is something that's easy,” says Ryan.

But he knows better than anybody that while it is rewarding work, it’s hard work too.

Ryan launched Rock Structures in 1997 in Kaysville, Utah, north of Salt Lake City. They specialize in residential excavation, doing everything from digging basements and running sewer and water for houses to placing gravel and creating rock retaining walls. Over the years, he’s built up a fleet featuring several pieces of Cat equipment.

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Ryan Goodfellow | A Rock-Solid Crew

“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.

Ryan Goodfellow | A Rock-Solid Crew
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Ryan Goodfellow | A Rock-Solid Crew
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Ryan Goodfellow | A Rock-Solid Crew
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Ryan Goodfellow | A Rock-Solid Crew
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Ryan Goodfellow | A Rock-Solid Crew
Ryan Goodfellow | A Rock-Solid Crew
Ryan Goodfellow | A Rock-Solid Crew
Ryan Goodfellow | A Rock-Solid Crew

“The first [compact track loader], we got 1,800 hours out of the undercarriage and out of the tracks, which is huge,” notes Ryan.

Ryan has also found the service and support from his Cat dealer, Wheeler Cat, to be invaluable.

“I've dealt with Wheeler for 23 years ever since day one, March of ‘97, when I first had my 315 delivered,” he says. “I've always had good dealings with Caterpillar, with the dealers, with my sales guys, with their service department, with their parts department – everybody has been good to deal with. And that's what keeps you coming back.”

A great crew and the right machines are just parts of the puzzle. For Ryan, a large part of what’s helped him grow his business over the years has been the creative know-how to get a job done.

“That's what sets us apart from a lot of other guys,” he comments. “You’ve got to be creative and you’ve got to have an understanding of what the finished product is going to look like in order to do it right.”

So what’s next for Ryan and the team at Rock Structures? Ryan wants to keep the team relatively small, possibly adding another crew in the future. He also wants to focus on maintaining the good relationships he has with his customers and making sure his operators are enjoying what they do.

“I mean, 23 years of being in business, you get to a point to where you’ve either got to grow bigger or you’ve got stay where you're at and just improve on what you've got,” he says. “And that's really what it's all about. It's just improving every day with what you're doing. Every day you make yourself better from what you were yesterday.”

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