Family-Owned Contracting Firm’s Expertise Ranges
from Subdivision Development to Intermodal Yards
Collierville, Tennessee-based Browning Contractors, Inc. has experienced major growth over the past five years. The family-owned business is active in a wide range of site work projects – apartments; subdivisions (clearing roads, laying pipe, lot preparation); warehouses; restaurants; medical buildings; churches; and intermodal yards.
Owner/company president Jeff Browning comments, “Last year was our most challenging year since I’ve been in business, but in a good way, with multiple jobs going on in a sixty-mile radius. Our growth of about 20% each of the last 5 years has been amazing.”
Jeff Browning was born and raised in West Memphis, Arkansas, and graduated from West Memphis High School in 1979. He is married and has three children and six grandchildren (and another one on the way). “I ran my first dozer when I was about 14 years old, and started operating a scraper at age 17,” he recalls. “Over the next ten years, I learned how to operate dozers, scrapers, trackhoes, backhoes, graders, lowboys, and dump trucks.
At left: Browning’s Cat 336E at work on a pipe-laying job in Lakeland, TN
“My wife Beckie and I started our family-owned business with one dump truck, one dozer, and a rubber tired backhoe. She did the billing and books, and I did the work with the help of two other men – one of them, who started in 1988, is still with me.”
Browning’s two sons, Beau and Ryan, have grown up around the business, and are now very active in estimating and running the day-to-day operations. His daughter Brooke, a CPA, now does the company’s books and accounting, while Beckie still does the payroll and runs the office.
Browning Contractors started with one employee and currently has over 20 people on staff. Most of the company’s jobs are in west Tennessee and north Mississippi, Browning reports.
“One of my first jobs was building a sports complex at Houston High School in Collierville, Tennessee,” he relates. “We did the football field, track and baseball fields, as well as the parking lot. We also did a lot of residential lot work.
“One of my bigger jobs was an intermodal yard in Memphis. It was a $2.2 million project, with 32 acres of clearing, five retention ponds with structures, 39,000 tons of limestone, parking, 2 miles of asphalt road, a maintenance building, office building, and widening of the city street for the entrance. There were 110,000 yards of on-site dirt; we hauled away 20,000 yards.
“Thompson has been a big part of our company’s success,” Browning states. “From their service department to my sales representative, Jonathan Holloway, their organization is the backbone of our company. Jonathan has always been there to answer any questions, and his knowledge of equipment has been very helpful. Also, Cat Financial has been incredible to work with.
At right: Beau Browning, Thompson’s Jonathan Holloway, Jeff Browning, Ryan Browning with Cat D6N; Browning’s Cat D5K
“We have to have a service department that can and will take care of us, no matter what the problems are – that’s why I do business with Thompson. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I’ve known several of their people for 35 years or so.”
The Browning fleet, including trucks, totals nearly 30 machines. The Cat equipment among them includes D4G, D5K2, D6K, and D6N dozers and 336E hydraulic excavator. The company has recently purchased a Cat 336F excavator, a 330F excavator, a 289D compact track loader, and a 420F backhoe loader through Thompson’s Certified Used Equipment program.
“There are two machines which I feel have had the biggest impact on our company. The D6N has so much power for big jobs, and it’s unbeatable at grading. It can allow you to eliminate one dozer on your job, because it can do so much work in a short amount of time.
“The 336 is big enough that it can handle large amounts of dirt quickly, or load 20 trucks. The GPS on our D6K and D6N have taken our company to a new level – it’s a great combination of old school with new school! I’ve taught my boys both ways they can do the work – with stakes or with GPS.”
At left: Cat 289D compact track loader on subdivision job
Reflecting on his career and his company’s growth, Browning says, “Probably most gratifying to me as a father has been watching my boys turn into men and learning the business. Sometimes it’s not easy to realize that they’ve grown up, but I love it.
“My business is built on know-how and knowing how to talk to people. Also, it’s not about a cheap price. In the long run, it’s always cheaper to do it right the first time rather than to have to do it twice. I would rather make one more swipe to make it right.
“My hopes for the future are for this business to be able to support my children’s families, to help my grandchildren go to college, and hopefully have a third generation continue the business.
“And also – maybe my wife and I can enjoy some vacations sometimes!”