For farming communities, like Hope and its surrounding areas, excavation can play a key role in helping a business to thrive. Recently, Jeremy Bulmer, co-owner of J&J Excavating spoke about why he and his cousin, Jared Cord, started their excavation business, how it all started, the types of jobs they do, and what it is about doing business in Hope that they enjoy.
How did the excavation business venture begin?
Well, we farm along the Bartholomew/Shelby County area and the guy that was doing our excavation work at the farm decided to sell his equipment. We weren't farming much at the time and it seemed like something that would be a good fit for winter income. We bought his older stuff, an excavator, bulldozer and drop deck trailer. We also bought a semi trailer and just started out, basically, doing fence rows and demolition jobs for other farmers. And it slowly turned into bigger and more things. We got into doing summer jobs as the years went on and then hired some help. It's a year-round thing now. Seventeen years later and it keeps growing.
How long have you farmed and how did that fuel the excavation business?
I started when I was 12 years old. And Jared, being my cousin, he helped out. I grew up close around Hope and worked at the old IGA grocery store down here and got to know a lot of people. We started off having a pretty good customer base right out the gate.
How many acres does your family farm?
When I started helping we were farming about 1500 and now it's about 4800.
So how do you juggle farming and excavating these days?
I split my time. I don't help out on the jobs anymore unless I'm absolutely needed. My wife, Rena, and I take care of the estimating and billing - the paperwork side of things. Jared oversees day to day operations.
Do you live in Hope?
I live up toward Edinburgh on my wife's family's farm and commute to Hope every day.
When did you establish the office on the Hope town square?
Three years ago. We were doing it out of our home office and like any business the bigger you grow and the more things evolve the more paperwork is involved. Ben Miller told us this office spot would open up and we thought it would get us exposure in Hope.
How has word of mouth advertising helped grow your business in Hope?
Hope has been great to us. I would say 75 percent of the work we do is within 10 miles of hope. It is all right here close to home and working with people we know.
What do you enjoy most about the excavation business?
I enjoy talking to people. I'm a people person. I like selling it. I always enjoyed playing in the dirt both on the farm and out moving it. I would rather go out and talk to people and sell it.
As a small business owner, what has been the biggest challenge you've faced?
Weather has been our biggest challenge, especially this winter. A lot of guys don't push dirt in the winter, but we try to push through and keep going.
How many employees do you currently have?
Two full-time and two part-time. There are not a lot of us, but we do tons of small jobs.
What are the main types jobs you do?
A lot of building pad site work. Tons of driveway work, especially in the spring. We haul stone and do demolition and land clearing. It all balances out. There's nothing that stands out more than anything else. People are always concerned that we may not want to do a job because it is a small job and it's like there is no job too small for us. As far as I'm concerned a guy giving us $200 to haul a load of stone is just as important as a guy giving us $10,000.
As the Hope community continues to grow, where do you see the business in the coming years?
We are going to stay here in Hope, continue to grow and capitalize on small jobs. I grew up around here and plan on staying.