When Ryan Goodfellow started his excavation business, Rock Structures, in 1997 near Ogden, Utah, it was the culmination of a lifelong love of dirt and iron that started over a decade earlier in Southern California.
“My dad has been in the transportation business my whole life. He’s always hauled equipment and oversize loads around. When I was a kid, I would go with my dad during the summer or on Saturdays to help him move tractors, or help him wash trucks and trailers.”
Thanks to falling in love with all the big iron his dad hauled, he got his start in the construction industry doing concrete prep and construction site cleanup. After a few months, he realized he didn’t have much of a future at that job and decided to get into the excavation business.
“Because of my background with my dad, I already knew how to drive a loader and a dozer. I had put in some time building motorcycle tracks in Southern California for my own personal use, so I had a little bit of an idea on how the machines worked. I was by no means an operator, but I knew how to pull levers.”
Once he decided to pursue his new career path, Ryan called up an old friend who had moved to Utah to work in excavation. Soon after, Ryan moved to Utah to do the same.
“My parents gave me an ultimatum. They told me to figure out what I wanted to do in life, and get after it. When they told me that, I called my friend in Utah, and he told me that he needed help. I figured what better time to do it than now? I’m young enough. I can go out and try it. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, then I’ll figure something else out.”
Fortunately, it was the right move, and he found that he loved running machines full time.
“I was pretty fortunate to find something that I like to do, something that I have a passion to do, at such a young age. A lot of people nowadays search for what they want to do in their life for years. I found it pretty early. Some people fall into it, and some people don’t. It’s hard to say when you’re going to find it.”
After a few years of working as an operator, Ryan decided it was time to give running his own business a shot. In March of 1997, he started his excavation and utility company called Rock Structures, which he still owns and operates today.
“Our typical jobs are residential, and they’re usually pretty quick. Many times, we’re in and out of a job in a matter of two or three days. We’re never really on a job for all that long. If we’re there for more than a week, that’s a big job for us.”
Today, Ryan still loves his career choice and has no regrets about it.
“Getting to run equipment every day makes me excited. I also like being on a different job site every day. Also, seeing something start at one point and end somewhere completely different is pretty dang cool too, being able to see that progress.”
He also has some advice for young people looking for a career in excavating.
“If you want to get into this industry, get into it and learn as much as you can. Don’t try to move up the ladder faster than you’re ready for. That’s where a lot of people make their mistakes. Listen to the people who work with you every day. I constantly test my guys every day, because I want them to be ready to take the next step. You can’t put somebody in a position to fail.”Back to all stories