H2X hydroexcavating company moved its national headquarters from Colorado to Decatur almost two years ago.
Under the code name, “The Denver Project,” the company worked with the Decatur Economic Development Corp. to secure a building site and was awarded grants to help with the move, bring infrastructure to the building and provide an economic incentive to grow the business to specific levels of employment within five years.
Since then, they’ve continued to grow, opened regional offices and expanded their local payroll to more than $1 million – all in rented office space on Farm Road 51 South.
But not a shovelful of dirt has been turned on their building.
By the end of this month, that should change – thanks to a terse email from CEO Michael Clark and some long-overdue communication among the company, the builder and City Hall.
“If everybody does what they say they’ll do, the game plan is to give them their permit a week from Tuesday,” said Brett Shannon, city manager, after a meeting that lasted most of Friday morning.
Deputy Fire Chief Deroy Bennett, Public Works Director Earl Smith, builder John Schedcik, city planning director Dedra Ragland, building official Jackie Miller, Clark, new EDC director Mary Poche and Shannon worked it all out Friday morning.
“I spent most of yesterday with my staff and had one last meeting this morning,” Shannon said. “We figured out what questions we needed answered, what we could do, then we just called (Schedcik and Clark) and said, ‘Any chance you guys could come up here?’ and they were both there within about 30 minutes.”
Shannon said the issues holding up the project were actually fairly minor – most revolving around communication.
“The bottom line is, we worked through every issue,” he said. “We resolved all of them this morning. All they have to do is mark their plans and send them to us.”
Clark, who had sent an email to members of the EDC board and others earlier in the week, said he was happy everyone finally got together and worked it out.
“Based on the way we all left that meeting, it looks like it’s going to be fine,” he said. “It was surprisingly simple when it came right down to it.”
Schedcik, who was hired by landowner C.L. Gage to build the building for H2X on property he owns in the northeast part of Decatur, said he is excited to get on with the project, which should take six or seven months to complete.
“The meeting (Friday) was very productive,” he said. “I appreciate that the city was able to get together as a team and get this underway. We definitely don’t want to lose this company to another city.”
Schedcik said he is ready to go forward as soon as he gets the permit.
“I can’t wait to start,” he said. “It’s a great project for the city of Decatur and for H2X. H2X has put a lot of faith in the city, and this allows C.L. Gage and myself to move forward.”
The 60-by-200-foot building will be about one-quarter office space and three-quarters warehouse and repair facilities for the trucks H2X uses to do excavation with water under high pressure.
Clark said not having a facility where they could work on the trucks has dampened the company’s growth somewhat.
“If we had a facility, we’d be bigger,” he said. “Part of what we planned to do was do all the maintenance on our vehicles here. Some of the functions we intended to do, we have been able to do – corporate accounting, some local work that we wanted to develop. But if we had a facility we’d be able to do more.
“We need some mechanics. Those sorts of people we intended to hire, but we haven’t been able to hire because we didn’t have any place to put them.”
In the email that led to Friday’s meeting, he noted that it had been almost two years since his company moved here – and said he was ready to think about going elsewhere if a building project couldn’t get started soon.
“I thought we were going to be in a building by March of 2012,” he said. “I’m not used to this kind of time frame. I thought because of the EDC’s position vis-a-vis the city, this would not be a difficult thing to do. Of course, it proved to be a very difficult thing to do.”
They’ve been doing maintenance at local offices scattered throughout the U.S. and at a yard in Bridgeport. But the plan is to do major maintenance at a central location in Decatur.
“You stop, take it out of service, replace hoses, blowers, whatever needs to be done, and you add three to five years of service life to it,” he said. “It’s difficult to do piecemeal in the places where we’re working. It needs to be happening right here where we can control that. It’s a very thorough process if it’s done right, and we don’t want to spend the money and not do it right.
“That was part of the plan and still is part of the plan.”
The company has offices in South Texas, West Texas, southwest Colorado, two in southern California, one in northern California and one in North Dakota. They plan to open an office in the Denver area in the next two months, and they’re also looking at Louisiana.
Now, it looks like all that growth will indeed be directed from Decatur.
“We spent most of the time yesterday and today just brainstorming on what are the core issues and how do we resolve these,” Shannon said. “We got them all in there this morning and found out it wasn’t as hard as we thought.”
Shannon said Poche, who just started on the job Monday, played a key role in Friday’s meeting and will continue to be involved as the project unfolds.