New York Contractor Seeks Out a Challenge

The tougher the job, the better for Kandey Company. The business’ growth depends on it.
New York Contractor Seeks Out a Challenge
A Kandey Company crew works on a project at the Richardson Complex in Buffalo, New York.

New York-based contractor Kandey Company doesn’t shy away from unusual or challenging jobs. In fact, it’s one of the top criteria for the type of work the company seeks out. The reason? An unusual or challenging job oftentimes means less competition from other contractors during the bidding process.

“We look for difficult projects where there’s going to be a low amount of bidders,” says owner Joe Kandefer. “That’s been our strategy for about the last 20 years. We’re not looking to increase revenues by just adding workload. We’re looking for certain jobs that we can make a good profit on.

“A few years ago, we put up five wind turbines for the New York State Thruway Authority. It was a different type of job and we felt the competition wouldn’t be as tight. Those are the jobs we look for. This is a risky business, and with a risk, there should be an award. So we look for the jobs that will have less competition and that we can make a decent dollar on.”

It means fewer projects overall than what some contractors might take on, but that’s what allows the company to practice proper oversight and ensure that even a challenging job remains profitable, he says.

“With a limited amount of projects, we can manage them properly. If they’re managed properly, we can hit the goals in our estimate as far as the labor and the production, because there’s nothing we’ve missed,” Kandefer says. “It’s not about the quantity of revenues for us. We’re not looking at doubling our revenues over the year. We’re looking at staying steady with what we can manage and make a decent markup on the projects.”

Kandey Company, located in West Seneca, New York, is highly diversified, specializing in an array of different site and utility services for its clients. Hydroexcavation, pipeline inspections and municipal sewer cleaning were at the forefront when the company was featured in the July 2013 issue of Cleaner, but Kandey Company also provides services such as directional drilling.

Kandefer estimates that the company does about 80 jobs annually, but that’s heavily dependent on the size and scope of the projects. Some projects last multiple years.

“They can range anywhere from a $50,000 project to $20 million,” he says.

To take on challenging work, Kandey carefully analyzes all the possible methods in advance, and feedback from throughout the company is welcomed.

“It’s not just do it my way, or do it no way,” Kandefer says. “Every project is thought out, and we discuss internally all the means and methods that are possible for the project. We come up with a plan and stick to it.”

And if need be, Kandey is willing to purchase new equipment specifically for a project. It helps if it’s equipment that can be utilized over the long term on other jobs, Kandefer says, but the company will still often make the investment in a onetime-use situation.

“It all depends on the type of work we have and the best way to get it done,” he says. “Sometimes there’s a piece of equipment we’ll buy just to use on one project, and then we try to sell it.”

Check out these additional stories about Kandey Company — the company’s approach to building a team capable of handling the challenging jobs it takes on in "Experienced Employees Make the Difference for New York Contractor," and how the company ensures it comes out on top in the bidding process as much as possible with its sizeable municipal customer base in "How to Win the Bid."



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