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Marsh Construction Services Benefits From Booming Business Expansion Near Savannah

by: Ryan Johnson
Marsh Construction Services added a Doosan DL220-5 Wheel Loader to move dirt along with larger items, such as pipe and precast concrete structures.
Marsh Construction Services added a Doosan DL220-5 Wheel Loader to move dirt along with larger items, such as pipe and precast concrete structures.
Left to right: Timmy Marsh, Jason Dunn, and Travis Marsh
Left to right: Timmy Marsh, Jason Dunn, and Travis Marsh
Founded by brothers Timmy and Travis Marsh, Marsh Construction Services is successfully evolving to take advantage of a current surge in commercial construction opportunities in the Savannah, Georgia, area.

Approximately five years ago, the brothers rebranded their company as Marsh Construction Services. This rebrand followed several decades of doing various construction work, including metal buildings and red-iron construction. A need for earthmoving services spurred the company to hire Jason Dunn, a seasoned construction professional, to help expand the firm’s site development offerings.

Today the company is a licensed contractor and is authorized to perform work on underground utilities in Georgia and South Carolina. Services include site development for new commercial projects, including restaurants and hotels, an expansion for a local RV park, and work for the Department of Transportation. In 2022, the company is also working on several future commercial projects, laying the foundation for more development along Interstate 16.

“That RV park was, to this day, the most challenging private side of things,” Dunn says. “Our company general contracted the entire expansion, plus additional buildings and vertical construction, as well as doubling the size of the RV operations.”

As the firm expanded into earthmoving work, Dunn established supervision of the site development projects. He is a managing partner for the firm and oversees a fleet of more than two dozen machines. It’s a mix of heavy and compact construction equipment – some wheeled, some tracked. Dunn is responsible for making sure the equipment can get the jobs done.

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“We have fortunately been able to land work, expand and continue to grow the business,” Dunn says. “We’re versatile, number one, and we’ve got the capabilities and the license to do several things. We have got a pretty decent niche.”

Savannah Port Drives Construction
Savannah is home to one of the largest ports in the United States. It rivals those found in Southern California and the Northeast. Tim Brady, CFO for Marsh Construction Services, says the construction in the Savannah area is nonstop. The greater Savannah area, as far as 75 miles from the city, is enjoying tremendous economic growth.

“There’s constant expansion and upgrading at the port,” Brady says. An increase in imports brought by container ships coming into the port is driving the growth. The proximity of the port to Interstates 95 and 16, and two Class 1 railroads makes the Port of Savannah a popular hub for logistics.

In addition to the increase in Georgia port activity, there is a need for new warehouses to store incoming materials. Along Interstate 16 – which connects Savannah to Macon, Georgia – and areas near Interstate 95, construction companies are clearing land and providing space for future storage. Additional developments will include commercial services that you’d expect along the interstate highways. All of this is welcome news for Marsh Construction Services.

“It’s interesting, the speed of construction here in Georgia,” Brady says. “Part of it is that you’ve got to have the right leadership to coordinate everybody. It’s nonstop.”

Marsh’s Biggest Project
The biggest construction project to date – estimated at just over $5 million – for Marsh Construction Services is a recently completed 15-acre Port Fuel Center in Port Wentworth. It’s located just east of the Savannah International Airport near the Georgia Port Authority Headquarters.

“We had more than 3,000 feet of concrete pipe to install, and another 6,000 feet of water and sewer to install,” Dunn says. “We hauled in over 100,000 cubic yards of material, over 400,000 square feet of concrete pavement, and did close to 9,000 square feet of asphalt paving.

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“We were a subcontractor to the prime contractor on the project, but they were great to work with, and I hope the project will be a success because it’s a large truck stop right in the heart of Georgia ports.”

Equipment Needs
One of the challenges that Marsh Construction Services faces, like many contractors today, is securing enough equipment for its projects. Synergy Equipment in Savannah supports construction companies, including Marsh Construction Services, by providing construction equipment sales and rentals. Rental is how the company started its relationship with Synergy, and it eventually led to sales, including a Doosan DL220-5 Wheel Loader. Dunn’s operators demoed the wheel loader and tested its lift and movement capabilities. They were curious how the machine would perform in the famous Georgia red clay.

“It was almost a match made in heaven, as far as us needing that wheel loader, based on our capabilities,” Dunn says. “The DL220-5 is a good intermediate-size machine because we utilize a wheel loader more for moving pipe and precast concrete structures than for dirt. It’s far more efficient and practical than larger machines.”

With a 3-cubic-yard capacity, the DL220-5 wheel loader is ideal for the size of projects that Marsh Construction Services performs.

“We could have gone with a larger loader, but a lot of the work that we do is fairly contained,” Dunn says. “We do a lot of what I call ‘postage stamp projects’ that fill in when we’re doing larger-scale projects and it’s an ideal size loader for the job. It’s a good fit on every project; not too small, not too big, and it's versatile.”

An important feature of the wheel loader is its hydraulic quick coupler, which allows operators to change non-hydraulic attachments like buckets and pallet forks without leaving the cab.

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“The bucket and a quick coupler with pallet forks are paramount when you’re laying pipe,” Dunn says. “We use the wheel loader bucket to pick up dirt spoils or when we’re fine-grading aggregate and need to pick up the excess.”

Embracing Technology
When Dunn joined Marsh Construction Services, he brought more than 35 years of experience. One of his first recommendations was to install GPS equipment on the company’s dozers. Brady says the installation was a significant capital investment, but it paid for itself in the long run.

“It reduced the expenses associated with wasted materials, either too much or too little,” Brady says. “And surveying and engineering fees, because they’re able to do things on the jobsite now without having to reach out and call for a third party to come and pound little wooden stakes in the ground.”

Company employees expect to continue adding more technology to their earthmoving fleet.

“We’re seeing technology as a big opportunity,” Brady says. “We’re modifying and upgrading and modernizing our equipment fleet. We’re seeing efficiencies that will help us reduce costs and make us more competitive to win more business.”

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