Chonzie McMahan began his career as a contractor working alongside his brother and father in the utilities trade. After years of working for the family business, McMahan decided to pursue his dream of owning his own company. In 2005 Chonzie, Inc., was established with a focus on custom grading work.
It didn’t take long for McMahan’s experience and general know-how to prove his company was capable of much more. Now, more than a decade later, custom grading is just one of the many types of work completed on a typical job. McMahan calls himself a “specialty” subcontractor, and his specialty is doing a little bit of everything – grading, footings, foundations, utilities, paving, landscaping and even snow removal.
Helping build a growing community
His ability to do a little bit of everything is what landed McMahan the contract as the sole subcontractor for a large residential development in Buncombe County, North Carolina. “I do all the infrastructure, the roads, water, sewer and all the paving,” McMahan says.
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Buncombe County includes the city of Asheville and popular mountain retreat towns like Black Mountain. The housing market in the area is so competitive that homes are sold before they are even built, which has increased the need for housing projects to run seamlessly.
When McMahan was contracted for a new 250-home subdivision in Black Mountain, he knew he needed a machine with a do-it-all specialty like his business model. Bobcat of Asheville sales specialist Walker Purcell set up a demo of a Toolcat 5600 utility work machine for McMahan, and the rest is history.
“I was surprised by the versatility of the Toolcat machine. Nobody else has anything like it,” McMahan says. “It’s like having a skid-steer loader, UTV and a miniature dump truck in one machine.”
Bobcat attachments add to the versatility of the machine. And McMahan has a well-stocked selection, including a bucket, angle broom, salt and sand spreader, pallet fork, and snow blade.
“I have an equipment fleet that includes larger machines like a dozer and an articulated dump truck, but the true workhorse is the Toolcat 5600,” he says. “It runs every single day and is one of the best purchases I’ve made.”
Fewer trips, faster return
The Toolcat machine is the primary means of transportation for the crew and for materials. The extra hauling capacity of the cargo box and bucket means fewer trips to the mulch pile when spreading mulch on yards. And the hydraulic dump box has taken the load off the shoulders of the crew – literally – by unloading thousands of pounds of mulch, rock and dirt without the need for shovels.
Located at what McMahan calls “the front porch of the Smoky Mountains,” the area gets an average snowfall of 26 inches. McMahan discovered quickly that the Toolcat 5600 not only increased productivity but also offers the comfort of an enclosed cab with heat and air conditioning – a luxury his previous utility vehicle (UTV) didn’t have.
“That’s one thing I couldn’t live without now,” he says. “My crew argues over who gets to use the Toolcat machine.”
Once the 250-home subdivision is complete, Chonzie, Inc., will maintain the HOA common areas providing grounds maintenance services and snow removal. The Bobcat angle broom and snow blade attachments make quick work of clearing the roads. And the salt and sand spreader attachment helps with icy conditions within the subdivision.
McMahan says he even occasionally drives the Toolcat machine to his home, not far from the subdivision, because the cab is warm and comfortable. Of course, he also finds a way to clear driveways as he goes. It’s just one more way he and the Toolcat 5600 utility work machine are keeping pace with the growing community.
Want more self-made success stories? Check out this business owner’s 5 Golden Rules to Grow Your Own Company From the Ground Up.