Dalton is a third-generation family member who works for the family-owned construction firm located in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The company, founded by his grandfather Ken Rasch in 1947, has a long and proud history.
“My grandpa began with just a bulldozer, working on land clearing and lagoon-type projects,” Dalton said. “My dad, Justin, and my uncle, Joel, expanded the company to where it is today. Now, my two younger brothers, Landon and Austin, and I are following in their footsteps.”
It is quite fitting that one of the latest additions to the Rasch Construction fleet is a dozer, considering that Dalton’s grandfather initially got his start on the machine back in the 1940s. One thing is clear: dozers are remarkably different from their predecessors, with an array of new technology aimed at enhancing job site productivity.
A graduate of Iowa State University, Dalton was originally a civil engineering student who later switched to business economics. He took his dad’s advice to pursue a college degree first and then decide if he wanted to join the family’s construction business. It was an easy decision. Today, Dalton is responsible for supervising the company’s numerous construction projects.
“I dispatch the employees and the equipment to the different sites that we have,” he said. “I’ve been handling this responsibility since 2016 when my dad retired.”
Dalton’s father, Justin Rasch, was instrumental in Dalton’s pursuit of a career in construction. Tragically, Justin lost his life to ALS in 2020 after an eight-year fight with the disease. His legacy lives on through Dalton and the other employees who continue to operate the company.
“I grew up learning from him and his role within the company,” Dalton said. “I grew up in the construction industry and always had construction toys as a kid. I'd run equipment with my dad here and there. It was probably since I was about 10 that I’ve kind of wanted to do this.”
“The technology that we use most is the GPS on our dozers,” Dalton said. “To be able to put a full job site in a machine, so you know where you’re at on the site, and your cut fills and what’s the best way to attack a dirt job that way. It definitely pays for itself in time, with efficiency of getting projects done.”
A significant difference from previous dozers and grade control systems is that the new setup gives the operator better visibility to the blade and the area in front of the machine.
“It’s a newer grade control system that doesn’t need masts on it, so the visibility is really nice,” Dalton said. “The GPS monitor is right below the LCD monitor in the dozer cab. It’s conveniently located. Also, the shape of the dozer with the hood and the glass means our operators can see really well out of it. It does well for smaller applications like trail jobs.”
Not only does the dozer technology improve productivity and efficiency — it is comfortable for the operator too. Rasch Construction operators may spend more than 10 hours a day in the machine.
“It’s not an easy job, and if you’re working on it that long and it’s physically demanding, it can burn some people out,” Dalton said.
In an industry that faces worker shortages, Rasch Construction is standing out from the crowd. Dalton said most of the company’s employees have been with the firm for more than 10 years. Although finding workers has not been an issue yet, he understands that it may be challenging in the future to get more people trained for a career in the construction industry. He pairs new employees with a mentor, and they receive on-the-job training.
“We like the compact radius excavators for our street projects,” Dalton said. “It’s normally tight quarters between the spoils or space we’re given, trying to stage pipes and working around employees and adjacent objects. It’s one less thing to worry about … the tail of the machine swinging into something.”
Among the company’s crawler excavators are two reduced tail swing machines, the DX140LCR and DX235LCR. These models are complemented by two smaller mini excavators, the DX35Z and DX50Z. Rasch Construction is considering a grade control system for its excavators to assist with depth check and further enhance efficiency.
The construction industry will continue to evolve with new technologies aimed at making work easier and more efficient for contractors. As new technologies shape the industry, they will help companies that adopt the new ways of working — like Rasch Construction — be successful.
“Things are always changing. … When I was growing up, we didn’t have GPS grade control or anything,” Dalton said. “So it’s cool to see the new technologies and the way things are changing.”
“On this project, we’re driving on a road trying to do a trail with one lane shut down and inevitably, people can’t read signs, and they go around them,” Dalton said. “We discussed this concern the other day and explored different ways to help mitigate issues that could come up.”
As an additional safety check after employees conclude the toolbox talk, they will do a walk-around before starting up the equipment.
“It involves a routine check for general wear and tear, as well as looking for any potential leaks that may have developed while the machine was idle overnight, or issues they may not have noticed when they were running it the day before,” Dalton said. “We perform these checks, inspect all the fluids, and ensure the equipment is ready to run.”