Years run together

News October 08, 2001
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A mere 40 years ago, Colleen Garrison, a registered engineer, and her husband William E

A mere 40 years ago, Colleen Garrison, a registered engineer, and her husband William E. Garrison, Jr., a registered land surveyor, pooled their talents and thus began the seed of a successful Raleigh, N.C., site preparation business: W.E. Garrison Co. Inc.

W.E. Garrison Co. holds a unique status in the industry as a certified Woman's Small Business Enterprise. Garrison, an astute woman, saw promise in the small shop she and Bill had started, and worked hard to grow the firm into a major contractor, which now handles about $7.5 million in billings annually. W.E. Garrison Co. is responsible for site preparation of the Triangle area's roads to ensure school buses a smoother ride, building shopping centers to stock area resident's shelves and developing business complexes to grow local commerce.

According to the Garrisons, running a successful business boils down to keeping a keen eye on equipment maintenance over the long haul. W.E. Garrison has a fleet of 240 pieces - equipment ranging in size from the smaller tractors used in fine grading operations to one of the area's largest ripper dozers - including 30 trucks one-ton and above. The Garrisons' top-five list for keeping trucks on the road reads like this:

1. Good drivers who won't abuse the trucks;

2. Good maintenance personnel interested in doing the job right the first time;

3. Quality parts installed correctly;

4. Understanding that downtime is expensive; and

5. Good dealers that are willing to work with the customer

Proving point No. 5, 40 years ago, Cardinal International Trucks, an authorized dealer of International brand trucks, extended the Garrisons their first line of credit, and they remain the company's preferred truck dealership to this day. W.E. Garrison does much of its fleet maintenance in-house, but the company relies on a strong dealer relationship to answer tough maintenance questions in a hurry. For that reason, and because of their reliability, all of W.E. Garrison's severe service trucks are International brand.

The oldest truck in the fleet is an International F-1900 from 1971. The newest, an International 9900 heavy-duty tractor used to pull a low-boy trailer, arrived in August. Most of the trucks are International 5000 Series dump trucks powered by the International 530E HT diesel engine - they run everyday, hauling trees, stumps, dirt, concrete, stone and asphalt, carrying an average load of 15 tons.

Like Colleen Garrison, these trucks work hard. Recent projects include site preparation for a new shopping center in Durham, N.C., expanding an existing site for a solid waste container in Wake County, building a large subdivision called Churton Grove in Hillsborough, N.C., and widening Highway 70 in front of it, and preparing bridge approaches in Granville County, Cumberland/Sampson Counties and Wake County for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

For more on the story, read the October issue of Roads&Bridges magazine.

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