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Intelligent Equipment Helps Digby Construction LLC See Increased Growth and Productivity in West Texas

Digby Construction added a couple of Komatsu D65EXi-18 intelligent Machine Control (iMC) Dozers to their fleet about two years ago and have seen greater grading productivity.
Digby Construction added a couple of Komatsu D65EXi-18 intelligent Machine Control (iMC) Dozers to their fleet about two years ago and have seen greater grading productivity.
Billy Digby, Owner, Digby Construction
Billy Digby, Owner, Digby Construction
Casey Settle, General Manager of Digby Construction, blades rock with a Komatsu GD655 motor grader equipped with a Topcon GPS system.
Casey Settle, General Manager of Digby Construction, blades rock with a Komatsu GD655 motor grader equipped with a Topcon GPS system.
Casey Settle, General Manager, Digby Construction
Casey Settle, General Manager, Digby Construction
Left to right: Billy Digby, Owner of Digby Construction; Jerrod Ellison, Kirby-Smith Machinery Territory Manager; and Casey Settle, Digby Construction General Manager, check Komtrax data.
Left to right: Billy Digby, Owner of Digby Construction; Jerrod Ellison, Kirby-Smith Machinery Territory Manager; and Casey Settle, Digby Construction General Manager, check Komtrax data.
Operator Chris McClure pushes dirt with a Komatsu D65EXi-18 iMC Dozer on a job site near Hermleigh, Texas.
Operator Chris McClure pushes dirt with a Komatsu D65EXi-18 iMC Dozer on a job site near Hermleigh, Texas.
Billy Digby has always loved equipment and playing in the dirt. He views construction as an art form.

“It’s the concept of taking nothing and making it into something,” stated Digby. “It’s in my veins, and I couldn’t really see myself doing anything else. I spent about 10 years as a general manager for another company then decided to go out on my own. Even though we have grown quite a bit during the past few years, I’m still very hands-on. I’m not a sit-behind-the-desk kind of guy. I never have been and never will be. I just can’t do it.”

In 2010, Digby formed Digby Construction LLC with a backhoe, two pickups, and a small crew. Early projects were focused on laying pipeline for a gas contractor.

“I had the mentality that we would do whatever it took to make it work – and still do,” Digby said. “I always say that I’ll get a mop and a broom and clean your floors if we need to in order to stay busy. Fortunately, it’s never come to that. We proved early on that we could get work done, and word spread. That helped us grow and take on bigger jobs.”

A Big Transition
During the past few years, Digby Construction has transitioned into a more earthwork-focused operation. Its main offering today is site construction for energy companies in West Texas. Based in Hermleigh, Texas, Digby Construction has approximately 35 employees and provides everything from clearing to finish grade for pads, as well as building roads to those locations.

“We pretty much got away from pipelining, although we do still offer it,” explained Digby. “We also do a little roustabout work, but moving dirt is where it’s at for us. There is plenty of work in this area, so we stay busy serving a sizable number of repeat clients. A typical project takes us a few days from start to finish, and we have them lined up to do one right after the next.

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“The other nice thing about that is that we don’t have to travel too far,” Digby added. “When we first started, our projects were mostly around Tyler, Texas. That was a long way from home, which can take a toll. I’ve been fortunate that a lot of my guys stayed with me, which I see as a big advantage because they have a lot of knowledge and skill to get jobs done on time and on budget.”

Building with Intelligence
Technology has played an increasing role in Digby Construction’s processes, and about two years ago, it added a couple of Komatsu D65EXi-18 intelligent Machine Control (iMC) Dozers with integrated GPS grade control to its fleet. Plus, the company recently purchased a Komatsu GD655 Motor Grader equipped with an aftermarket Topcon GPS system.

“We demoed the first intelligent dozer,” recalled Digby. “An average pad would take around 10 days, but with that machine, the time was cut in half. Obviously, that was a game changer for us because the profit margin went up. Now, we visit a site, take some shots, and build a model. That gets plugged into the dozers and grader and we go from there.”

Several Kirby-Smith Machinery Inc. (KSM) employees – including Service Support Manager Rebecca McNatt, Grade Control Specialist/Smart Construction Consultant Eddie Garcia, and Territory Manager Jerrod Ellison – helped Digby Construction purchase and set up the machines. Ellison also assisted with the acquisition of a Komatsu PC210LC-11 Excavator, a Komatsu WA320-8 Wheel Loader, a Ledwell water truck, and a couple of HAMM rollers.

“Jerrod and Kirby-Smith made sure that we had the right machines to match our needs, as well as ensured that we understood how to use the intelligence to our advantage,” said Casey Settle, General Manager of Digby Construction. “Kirby-Smith provides outstanding support too. If we have any questions, they are right there to help. We work in the remote locations, so it’s essential to have dependable machines that don’t break down. Staying up to date with scheduled maintenance plays a big role in that, and Kirby-Smith takes care of that on our new Komatsu machines with Komatsu Care. They track them, contact us when services are due, and get them done. It’s become a great partnership for us.”

Settle said the dozers and motor grader have not only sped up site construction, but lowered the company’s owning and operating costs.

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“We engineer the site as far as grade and how it drains. After we clear, we put the iMC dozers to work roughing in the location, building pits, putting the pad to grade, and laying the base material,” explained Settle. “Once we download the site plan to the machine and do a quick calibration, it’s a matter of letting the machines do the work. They know where they are in relation to final grade at all times and are highly accurate, so there is no guesswork or a need for a grade checker. Our time, material and fuel cost savings have been significant.

“The motor grader has further helped with savings,” Settle added. “We wanted one to get us that little extra tolerance, and it’s certainly done that. Our operators like the visibility because they can easily see the blade edges, which makes them more confident and more effective.”

Multiple Markets
While Digby Construction prefers oil- and gas-related projects, it’s not exclusive to that industry. The company builds terraces for farmers and ranchers, does residential and commercial site construction, and has done roadwork on some Texas Department of Transportation projects.

“The intelligent technology helps in those instances too,” said Digby. “It’s great for working on slopes and terraces, so it has applications in everything we do. I can see us adding more of those machines going forward.”

Digby also sees the potential for the next generation to possibly take over Digby Construction someday. His son, Stetson, recently joined the business full time.

“The nice thing about having a dad with all this equipment is you get to play on it growing up, so he already has experience,” Digby said. “He started out just like everyone else – at the bottom. Eventually, he will learn all aspects, including estimating and bidding. Maybe one day he will run it, and I can sit back and watch.”

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