Xram Excavation Lays The Foundation For Las Vegas

MOB Traffic draws the job site plans for their continued success.  

Like many kids who marry their sweethearts fresh out of high school, Ronald Marx wasn't settled on a career but needed work. So he did what many Southern Californians did in the early 1980s. He followed a few of his brothers in looking for luck in Las Vegas.

"My dad started in construction out of necessity," says Scotty Marx, now general manager of Xram Excavation. "He and his brothers were installing fire sprinkler systems in all of the casinos until he hurt his back. Then he tried to make a living off vending machines for a few years."

Vending machines were fine, but Ronald missed the reward of construction work and toyed with the idea of excavation and underground utilities. The opportunity arose when one of his brothers called about a small project.

"His brother offered him his first job installing a water line for a fire sprinkler system," said Scotty. "The first job they ever did paid $15,000, which was more money than he had ever seen at one time. So my dad told my mom that if they did just four jobs a year, they would be looking good — really, really good!"

By the time Scotty was nine years old, Xram Excavation was lining up a few more jobs than four. The 9-year-old boy would ride in the truck and spend most of his summers on the job site. Years later, he started driving after he earned his license and then signed on as a fuel runner.

"I guess you can say I learned everything from how to work a shovel to how to conduct a proper inspection," he said. "We were riding a wave that lasted until the great recession in 2008, about the same time I went on a mission to Brazil."

His dad and mom nearly lost everything and had to start over. In fact, they might have lost it all if it wasn't for Cashman Equipment, which rented the struggling company a backhoe for $1,000 a month over six years. It wasn't easy, but the family managed to keep things together by expanding their services. They even learned how to fix fire hydrants.

"I wish I could have helped more, but I didn't return home until 2011 and then set off to Utah to pursue a degree in economics," he said. "During school, I occasionally came home to work a job during winter break but didn't have much time after graduation. I was working at an equity investment firm specializing in micro-investments."

Scotty returned to construction after his dad called and asked him to help with another boom in Las Vegas construction. Shortly after, they learned the call was divinely inspired. Ronald Marx was diagnosed with colon cancer. While Ron managed doctor appointments and chemo treatments during his three-year battle with cancer, Scotty kept the business running.

"Xram Excavation isn't the kind of company you let fade into the sunset," Scotty says. "Every member of the family, including some of our cousins, has worked here at one time or another. It's helped many people, including church members, put food on the table or save for college."

Today, Xram Excavation is even more successful than during the first boom when it was founded. While Scotty maintains a small staff of seven employees — including his mom, who still owns the company, and sister-in-law — they are still responsible for installing underground utilities for hundreds of commercial projects throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

"We do excavation, demo, grading, paving, and underground utility jobs that typically range from $10,000 to $600,000 but sometimes over a million," he said. "With such a lean staff, we're like a big ship with a tiny rudder, which is why our partners are so important to our operation."

One of those partners is Masters of Barricades (MOB Traffic). Although Scotty tried another traffic control company shortly after becoming general manager, he'll never make the same mistake twice.

"My dad had worked with Jeff Pritchett for years, but I thought we could save a few dollars," said Scotty. "Boy, did I see the light. You don't save money when you have to pay for mistakes or fines. MOB Traffic is number one. No other company is even close. Another company would have to pay me to try them, and even then, I won't try them."

What makes MOB Traffic such a standout, he says, is that the company is always there for its customers — anytime you need them, day or night. If there is an emergency job or a problem that needs to be sorted out, all he has to do is pick up the phone and call 24/7.

"Now and again, their availability gets thin, like when they manage the Rock' n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon and close down most of the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas," said Scotty. "But then there are times they treat us like we're the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon, and I appreciate that. As a company that relies on reputation and repeat business, it's important to cultivate people and relationships."

At Xram, Scotty applies these principles to everyone inside and outside the company. By investing in people, running tight margins, and always remembering that you get more bees with honey than vinegar, Scotty has retained the infectious work ethic, generosity, and sense of humor established three decades ago.

"Don't do your best," says Scotty, smiling as he quotes Adam Carolla. "Do my best."

And with Xram Excavation, contractors and commercial customers expect Scotty is doing everything he can to do their best too. As the general manager of a company that helped lay the foundation of Las Vegas, he wouldn't offer anything less.

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