Rising from the ashes of recession

Aaron Riley and Terry Reisch

The growth came quickly. Since starting the business in 2010 with about seven people, the company’s now two offices in Vancouver and Richland, WA boast 25-30 employees. Phoenix Excavating has been steadily increasing their sales as well – going from over a million dollars during their first half year in business to $8 million in 2013. But Reisch is careful in planning a sustainable company that won’t sway in the face of the next recession.

“We want to cap [our growth] and keep it around 20 percent,” she explained. “Too much growth and you don’t have enough time to be safe like you need to and take care of your employees and clients.”

The rapid growth hasn’t come without challenges. Reisch said that finding skilled labor in today’s market has been the biggest hurdle. Many left the industry during the recession and have yet to return, leaving a glut of new employees to train.

Plus, Phoenix Excavating is navigating a challenging industry. Their mainstays are commercial and residential construction: clearing the land, setting up underground utilities and bringing properties to the point where builders can lay strong foundations. So far, their 15-machine fleet has laid the groundwork for apartments, office buildings, dental offices and even the Clark County Food Bank. But getting over the stigma associated with a notorious industry has fueled Phoenix Excavating’s dedication to its tenets of honesty and hard work.

“A lot of people look at the construction industry negatively because of the reputation that goes along with construction,” Reisch explained. “We are always striving really hard to keep our word. That’s what sets us apart from other companies.”

Phoenix Excavating plans to continue its rise from the ashes of the recession, just like its namesake.

“We have really good, key people from all different companies that had to close down during the recession,” said Reisch. “So we just brought them altogether into one company and we’ve been able to rise quickly because of our people, our reputation and our company. It’s just like the legend of the Phoenix bird.”

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