Ryan Goodfellow always loved dirt.
He recalled, “My dad was in the transportation business my whole life. He 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.”
Ryan fell in love with all the Big Iron his dad hauled, so he started working in the construction industry doing concrete prep and construction site cleanup.
How Ryan got started in excavation
After a few months, he realized he didn’t have much of a future at his job.
Around the same time, Ryan said, “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 a friend in Utah, and he told me that he needed help with excavation. 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.”
Ryan moved to Utah and started learning how to operate an excavator. Thankfully, his past experience with Big Iron helped him along.
“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,” Ryan said.
Doing what he loves
Ryan soon realized excavation was the right move, and he found that he loved running machines full time.
“I was pretty fortunate to find something that I liked to do, something that I had 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. Some people fall into it, and some people don’t. It’s hard to say when you’re going to find it. I found it pretty early,” Ryan said.
Starting his own business
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.
Ryan soon found a niche in the market for Rock Structures: “Our typical jobs were residential, and they were usually pretty quick. Many times, we were in and out of a job in a matter of two or three days. We were never really on a job for all that long. If we were there for more than a week, that was a big job for us.”
Decades later, Ryan still loved his career choice and had 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 said.
Ryan's 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,” he said.
Check out this entertaining Dirt Talk podcast to hear more about Ryan's Dirt World journey and how you can blaze your own path, too.
Written by Admin
March 2, 2023
Meet the Expert