“One hundred and ten percent of the reason I went with DirtPrep Solutions and the Leica brand was the customer service. No one else gave me the attention they gave me.” —Jose Madrigal, Vice President of Operations, King General Construction Corp.
Jose Madrigal is a rare talent among young excavating contractors. At just 28 years old, he is well versed in both old school methods and the latest machine control technology. He understands how GPS technology works and has put it to the test on the jobsite. With Leica GPS technology now integrated into the company’s workflow, a lot has changed for both King General Construction and its young vice president of operations.
Launching a Family Earthmoving Business
Jose Madrigal had plans for a career in aviation, but those plans faded after an injury. He switched gears and changed his major to advanced mathematics and engineering. With his side hustle fixing grading issues going well, he earned his contracting license in 2016 and launched King General Construction Corp. while attending classes and working toward his bachelor’s degree. After graduating in 2018, he devoted all his efforts to the growing business.
Winning a big development project was a turning point for the Southern California earthmoving contractor and for Madrigal’s father, Jose Madrigal Sr., a 30-year construction veteran.
“He was running the whole show at his job and earned a very good salary,” says Madrigal. “He was very comfortable with all the perks and benefits. Finally, I was able to land the contract with a big developer and he quit his job to join me. We haven’t stopped yet.”
The father and son team work well together. While Jose Sr. focuses on bringing in business, Jose Jr. manages the licensing, paperwork and field operations. “We stuck to the plan and I stuck by him,” says Madrigal. “He has showed me everything he possibly could.”
Getting Started in Machine Control
As King General Construction continued its work, technology was increasingly on Madrigal’s mind as he saw other companies deploying it in the field. “The week I was thinking about it, I got a call from the Leica Geosystems dealer, DirtPrep Solutions,” says Madrigal. The dealer happened to notice a post from King General Construction on Instagram and connected with the company through social media.
The Instagram post expressed Madrigal’s frustration over having to wait for surveyors to check the work and dealing with stakes getting knocked over on the jobsite.
DirtPrep introduced Madrigal to a simple Leica iCON GPS base station and rover system with iCON site software that would save time and provide precise measurements. Madrigal was impressed by how the DirtPrep team operated and what the Leica technology could do.
“I looked at the tablet and realized I had an entire project in my hand [with the Leica GPS technology]. That first job alone saved me more than $26,000.” —Jose Madrigal, Vice President of Operations, King General Construction Corp.
“I was worried I would get stuck, but it was easy,” says Madrigal.
“As we were walking around the site, I looked at the tablet and realized I had an entire project in my hand,” he adds. “I took one step and knew I’m four tenths above grade, or I’m four tenths below grade here. That was phenomenal.”
The first job he used the base station and rover on would have typically taken 2 1/2 weeks. “I did it in four days,” he says.
He made a list of pros and cons for the technology but had seen enough to know he needed to invest. “I was sold,” says Madrigal. “That first job alone saved me more than $26,000.”
Learning to Trust the Technology
Madrigal learned to trust the accuracy of the system over time. He would set the system on a point and place a stake and freeze-frame it to check the elevation. He would then remove the stake, bring out a hand level and pull in the elevation from a corner. “I did that almost every day for a month because I would go home thinking, what if I was off by a tenth?”
He was always reassured when the surveyors would check the grade and find he was accurate within a hundredth.
“With Leica GPS machine control, contractors control their own destiny. We provide the support and training to help them get there. But the technology is so easy to use – it’s a very short learning curve to become successful with it.” —Jason Lambrich, CEO, DirtPrep Solutions
To help him adjust to the new technology, Madrigal would call DirtPrep Solutions to walk through the setup of the job. “One hundred and ten percent of the reason I went with DirtPrep Solutions and the Leica brand was the customer service,” says Madrigal. “No one else gave me the attention they gave me.”
“The technology transforms the way contractors do business,” explains Jason Lambrich, CEO of DirtPrep Solutions. “With GPS machine control, they’re not as dependent on a surveyor because they can do some of their own layout, grade checking and staking and be able to control production in a predictable way. They can control their own destiny. We provide the support and training to help them get there. But the technology is so easy to use – it’s a very short learning curve to become successful with it.”
Winning Bigger and Better Jobs
According to Madrigal, being able to deliver quality work with technology has helped King General get their foot in the door for bigger jobs. With a small office staff and eight field workers, they are handling more work than ever before. On one larger jobsite, Madrigal mounted the GPS technology on an ATV so he could work faster.
“I was following scrapers around going 15 miles an hour, looking at my tablet. And I would give instructions as I was moving back and forth with the equipment,” says Madrigal. “Productivity went through the roof.”
King General’s reputation is growing, and that means they are learning to successfully compete against companies with far more staff and resources. They recently purchased a new dozer outfitted with Leica machine control that will enable them to grade parks, roads and more with centimeter accuracy.
On Madrigal’s desk is a statement that says a lot about how this young entrepreneur is achieving success: Luck is for losers. His belief in hard work and adoption of Leica GPS technology is paying off. Not only is the business more successful, but he has more time for family and fun.