Working On A Level Playing Field

December 2008 Vol. 63 No. 12

Everyone has heard the phrase “competing on a level playing field” in reference to athletics. But working on a level playing field – or job site – can be as important in the utility construction market. And sometimes contractors can achieve this even when a job site’s terrain isn’t level at all.

Arnold Jones, owner of A & L Cable Services Inc. in Fayetteville, NC, experienced this firsthand when his company was hired to install underground fiber optic lines for a Time Warner Cable project linking a county’s schools. Jones’ crews found themselves working in a rural landscape with gravel roads, ditches and uneven terrain. In order to make the working field more level, Jones enlisted the help of a ride on tractor with an innovative quad track system design.

Luckily for Jones, he has the experience to help him make the most out of a difficult situation. He’s been in the cable installation business since its booming days in the 1980s and has successfully ridden the ebb and flow of the industry over the past three decades. Not long after gaining experience with another company, Jones saw the opportunity to venture out on his own. In March 1997, he and his wife, Lora, founded A & L Cable Services. At that time, the company had just two bucket trucks and specialized in aerial work. Today, the Joneses employ about 40 people and own four subcontractor companies.

A & L Cable Services has expanded its service offerings from aerial cable work to underground installation, maintenance and splicing. “We do most of our work for Time Warner Cable. We put in their main line cable – both underground and overhead,” Jones says. “We install all of the main line cable for new subdivisions. We’ll take on special projects if they come up such as the one in Robeson County.”

Secret of success

Business owners can point to many reasons behind the successful growth of the company. Jones can point to two main factors – the good, quality people he’s had the privilege to work with and the money he’s invested back into the company by purchasing quality, reliable equipment. “It has come a long way. Years ago, you didn’t even need a horizontal directional drilling (HDD) rig, but now you have to have one on almost every job,” he says. “We’ve been able to keep the right equipment out there to do the job.”

This proved true on the Time Warner Cable project in Robeson County in which Jones turned to his new Vermeer RTX1250 ride on tractor with the quad track system to ensure his crews stayed on schedule.