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Posted: 11/20/2015

Turning a Part-time Job into a Full-time Passion

A unique business partnership leverages technology and equipment expertise to create a successful company

Excavator moving dirt

With an unusual company name and one of the owners working 7,000 miles away half of the year, Rotten Rock Hardscaping and Tree Service Inc. is riding a five-year growth rate of 50 percent annually. The owners are doing it in a thoroughly modern way — relying heavily on electronic communication with their customers and a lineup of cutting-edge Bobcat® compact equipment and attachments.

Part-time becomes full-time
The reason for starting the business in 2010 was Henry Shaw’s desire to spend more time with his family and Todd Crane’s plan to have a future retirement option. Construction and tree work meant a busy travel schedule for Shaw. Crane, an avid skier, looked forward to settling down in the Mount Washington Valley, long considered a prime recreation area.

The pair started doing landscaping and construction jobs on the weekends with rented equipment, and before long they were getting more jobs than they could handle working part-time.

“Every time we did a project, a neighbor would ask us to do something,” Shaw says. “We were hoping the business would take off, but we had no idea how fast we would grow. Plus, people kept asking us to do more complicated and elaborate jobs. It was quickly getting out of hand.”

Big breakthrough
To handle the rapid growth and variety of work that was coming their way, the owners of Rotten Rock purchased a Bobcat 331 excavator, a machine they now call the building block of their company.

“With the phone ringing off the hook, the Bobcat excavator gave us the ability to do jobs easier and faster so we could move onto the next one,” Shaw says. “We were able to use it for so many phases of our business. It became invaluable.”
After the first excavator got the company efficiently moving forward, it was followed by a Zero Tail Swing (ZTS) E35 and then the current machine, another ZTS excavator, an E45, all purchased from Bobcat of New Hampshire in Chichester.

“During all the years I spent in construction, I probably accumulated 30,000 hours operating various brands of excavators,” says Shaw, “and I can honestly say the E45 is the most impressive machine I’ve used. The M-Series unit, which I run almost every day, is unsurpassed for comfort, speed and fuel efficiency. The excavator’s fast cycle times may not seem all that important when you’re working, but at the end of the day an extra 50 cycles can be the difference between a job being completed or returning another time.”

After buying its first Bobcat excavator, Rotten Rock became more of a diversified production company, handling a variety of jobs that include excavation, hardscaping, landscaping and tree projects.

“Working fast and efficiently is important for generating income, but the main reason we moved into a high-production mode was to keep up with the work,” Shaw says. “There is always a race to get to the next job to satisfy our customers. Without our Bobcat equipment, we could not keep up.

“This equipment lineup gives us the ability to do an entire project, unlike many of our competitors,” Shaw notes. “Quickly changing from one attachment to another allows us to keep the jobs on schedule. Without our Bobcat equipment, we could not stay in business. It’s the cornerstone of our company.”

What’s in a name?
New Hampshire is known as the Granite State, and when granite begins to crumble, it’s called “rotten rock,” a naturally occurring gravel.

“At first we had no name for our business,” says co-owner Henry Shaw. “But one day we were building a retaining wall when we began digging in crumbled granite. My sister-in-law, Liesel Crane, asked what it was and when I told her it was rotten rock, she suggested we use that in the company name.”

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