Morrone Excavation Inc. offers site work solutions for new homes along the Connecticut and Rhode Island coastline
When Mike Morrone was a teenager, he dove headfirst into the construction industry. In 1991, after spending a decade learning the trade, he founded his own company: Morrone Excavation Inc. Over the last 30 years, the firm has established a specialized operation in the Westerly, R.I., region.
“When I was 16, I started out working for my uncle and grandfather in the sand and gravel excavation business,” recalled Morrone. “I also spent time working for my father as a mechanic at his service stations and repair facilities. Eventually, I realized I preferred the site work and the excavation business to mechanic work and started my own excavation company.”
Morrone’s staff consists of two full-time employees and one part-time employee. The firm services a territory from Old Saybrook, Conn., to the Newport-Warwick, R.I., area. It focuses on residential work and smaller commercial projects.
“Primarily, we complete high-end homes along the Rhode Island and Connecticut coastline,” explained Morrone. “We basically complete the site work from the excavation to the foundation for our projects. In some cases, we’ll demo an existing home and remove the septic system; then we will excavate and install a new foundation, install the utilities and a new septic system, backfill it with material, subgrade the site, create the driveway, and get the property ready for finish grade. We will also grade private roads for property access or smaller developments as well. It’s a lot of long hours because we travel wherever the business takes us. My wife’s support has played a big role in the company’s success.”
Running a smaller operation means that Morrone has a real sense of pride about his work.
“We’ve established a niche business where I enjoy going to the job site every day,” stated Morrone. “We stand behind our work and do everything the right way the first time. That mentality has helped us establish relationships with several builders in the area that we work with to complete our residential projects.”
Throughout the course of a year, Morrone and his team will work on 12 separate residential projects of various sizes. Demand for Morrone Excavation’s services has been consistent due to the company’s proximity to New York City.
“This area is a popular location for people to build summer homes where they can get away from New York City for a while,” noted Morrone. “We’re very busy during the winter because people prefer to have their work completed while they’re not using the property. During the summer, we’ll do a lot of demolition work for people buying real estate that want to build larger homes.”
At a job site near Westerly, Morrone and his crew are completing work on an approximately 200-acre lot.
“Currently, we’re working with a builder to complete a main house, cottage and barn,” said Morrone. “We demoed an existing home and are doing the site work for all three of the new structures. We’re also going to dig several ponds, install some roads and add a bridge. Once it’s complete, the property will be a functioning farm.
“At the location where we demoed the existing house, we dug a new foundation and are backfilling it before installing the exterior drainage,” continued Morrone. “We’ve also added interior drainage to the property. Once the drainage is installed, we’ll finish backfilling the structure, subgrade it, and get the site ready for builders to put up a house.”
Equipment as good as dealer support
To complete projects on schedule, Morrone Excavation relies on its fleet of Volvo equipment.
“Currently, we use the EC160 excavator, EC140 excavator, ECR58 excavator and an L35 wheel loader to complete our jobs,” said Morrone. “I’ve owned a wide range of competitive machines over the years but prefer the Volvo equipment. They’re good on fuel, smooth and quiet to operate, and hold their resale value.
“Equally important is the support that we get from the dealership after purchasing the equipment,” added Morrone. “Without that, we’re dead in the water. Woodco does a good job taking care of us to make sure we’re running and maximizing our uptime.”
When looking for new equipment or making a call about a machine, Morrone works closely with Jim Capobianco, a Woodco Machinery sales representative.
“Jim is accessible whenever I have a question, whether that’s Tuesday afternoon or Sunday evening,” stated Morrone. “The parts and service department also do an excellent job servicing our machines. We haven’t had any major issues with our machines, but when something does come up, they’re quick to resolve the problem.”
More challenging job sites
Looking forward, Morrone is optimistic about his business success. The demand for new homes in the area continues to grow annually.
“The future looks bright because we’ve got a lot of work lined up through 2022,” noted Morrone. “We’re looking at adding larger equipment to take on some of the projects ahead of us. The sites are increasingly becoming more challenging because most of the preferred lots have already been sold and developed. We’re encountering more ledges, boulders and other challenging materials. It’s heavier work that requires a bigger machine, but we can handle it.”