Reflecting on 75 Years of C.J. Moyna & Sons

In the last 25 years, we’ve been able to assemble a team of players, that do a really good job in the construction industry. To have the chance to develop and grow our people into true earthmoving powerhouse team players has enabled our company to maintain its leadership in the earthmoving industry.

Along with the ability to take on complex projects we’ve instilled a can-do attitude in our company. That can-do attitude is given us the ability to open up flooded interstates in record time. It’s allowed us to take large tracts of development land and meet or exceed our customers deadlines. Along with this process, we act as if we’re the owner. Whether it’s the DOT/a government entity or private projects, we instill in all our people a desire to do it right. The earthmoving industry is extremely competitive. To survive and prosper in the earthmoving industry is challenging. All odds are against you. The weather, fuel pricing, qualified employees, equipment breakdowns, repair costs, and then the general liability of being in the construction business. So to have a team that has prospered in the last 25-75 years, it’s an amazing story.

Within the last 25 years, the DOT has added value engineering. We utilized that specification to the fullest. Our creativity and ingenuity are applied to the value engineering spec., which leads to better and more economical products for our customers. Within that process, we were able to expand our ability to be more efficient at what we were doing. In that process, we brought along the telemetrics of earthmoving, which was a big part of our success. Today we have a small air force of helicopter (drones) that fly over our projects on a daily basis.

Success isn’t truly success unless you can measure it. Drones have allowed us to measure our work every day. That part of technology has really helped. Applying those technologies, in combination with our manpower is what gets us out on the leading edge of success. Today we can virtually change any job site for the owner with our electronic capabilities. This is huge in the earthmoving world and truly separates us from other earthmovers.

Within the last 25 years, we’ve expanded into other aspects of the earthmoving world. The aggregate/concrete recycling business has been a major area of our growth in the last 25 years. We have grown into multiple crushing operations. We have quarries scattered around Northeast Iowa. Delivery of materials is important in the rock business. We’ve grown our trucking business with the addition of trucks and side dumps, which allows us to do a very good job of product delivery to our customer base.

We have our own underground crews that can perform for us on our projects at Progressive Structures. It’s enabled us to maintain or exceed deadlines of our earthmoving projects.

We started our own manufacturing business, from the need to be better, faster, and more productive. We went ahead and started developing our own equipment. We built E-Ject Systems and sold 500+ scrapers in that business. It was acquired by Caterpillar in 2008. In 2007, we started another manufacturing business, Mobile Track Solutions. We started building larger scrapers and tractors for the earthmoving business.

At the anniversary show on Friday, September 17th, MTS is going to be introducing some new equipment models that will change the earthmoving world. In January, we went over 500 scrapers produced at MTS. It’s very busy.

With all the construction, and all the manufacturing, we started a logistics company to make sure all our transportation needs were met. Presently, we run 12 heavy haul trucks for the delivery of machinery across the country. This has grown with the need for quality trucks and drivers. The business has been flourishing with demand for on-time deliveries. The business runs from coast-to-coast.

In conclusion, I can see a real need for people in the earthmoving industry to know its rich history. The history of the earthmoving industry has never been captured in one location. The story has been told here and there, but never in one location. Three years ago, the idea for the Earthmoving Legacy Center came about. The purpose of the Earthmoving Legacy Center is to tell the history of earthmoving, from manpower to the present day. In the winter months, we plan on closing it down to have training. That training will be for earthmovers in general. The purpose is for training of different companies involved in earthmoving, and different dealerships that sell earthmoving machinery. We want to make sure that we train people properly so that they understand the earthmoving process.

In the world of earthmoving, hours are important, minutes are important, but seconds are the most important thing that you can have in an earthmoving operation. You have to have a measuring device to quantify what you’re doing. Earthmoving can be like a game of football. If you don’t know the score at the end of each quarter, you’re probably not going to win the game. In this industry, if you don’t know your “score” at the end of each day and throughout each phase of the project, you’re going to come up short of your goals.

I’m very fortunate that I turned 60 years old this year, and I would have to say that, the way my life was, I wouldn’t change a thing. All the people that you meet along the way, and the relationships that you build, is probably the single biggest thing that I’d like to carry forward. If you can help somebody every day, it just makes it a better place to be. I’ve had a good 60 years, and I hope I can continue to help people as long as I can, and change the world for the better.

Celebrating 75 Years of Earthmoving Excellence

Built on Tradition, Poised for Tomorrow

CJ Moyna & Sons has been changing the landscape of the state of Iowa for three generations. Join us as we celebrate 75 years of tradition and excellence – and look forward with enthusiasm to the future of our company and the earthmoving industry.

The Early Years—Pre-1950

From Horse-Drawn Equipment to a Rented Bulldozer

While CJ Moyna has been a company for 75 years, the Moyna family’s history as road builders goes back even further. Patrick Moyna, great-great grandfather to the current CJ Moyna & Sons president John Patrick Moyna, immigrated to Elkader, Iowa, from Ireland in 1883. Patrick Moyna started the family’s legacy of road building, hauling dirt with a wooden wagon and a team of mules. Patrick taught the road-building trade to his son John, who continued the tradition by teaching his own son, Cecil.

In 1946, Cecil was a heavy equipment operator for a local construction company. The sand pit in Elkader was still using horse-drawn equipment and was unable to keep up with construction demand after World War Two. Cecil was hired to help them in his off-hours, renting a Caterpillar D8 bulldozer from his boss at the construction company for the job.

Starting With a Single Dozer

Cecil then decided to take his knowledge of earthmoving and open his own business with his sons Jack and Jerry, starting CJ Moyna & Sons with a single Model L Allis-Chalmers bulldozer purchased with money Cecil borrowed from his father, John.

Soil Conservation Work

Soil conservation work for farmers – terraces, farm ponds, waterways, and drainage ditches- was the company staple early on. CJ Moyna didn’t have equipment to haul their bulldozer, so they drove it through town between sites.

The First Company President

After three years in the army stationed in Germany, Cecil’s son Jack returned to Iowa in 1956, becoming the company’s first president, a role he filled for more than 50 years. Even after retirement, Jack denied that he was retired, continuing to go to the shop daily to share wisdom with the team.

Growing the Company—1960s, 70s, and Beyond

Slow Expansion

Even though expansion was beginning C.J. Moyna & Sons was still a family-based business. C.J. supervised, Jack and Jerry operated. The three of them were the backbone of the company. Each had an area of specialty. C.J.’s contribution was to get the work; Jack ran the crew and Jerry did the finish work.

The ground work was laid for the continual growth of C.J. Moyna & Sons. Jack’s son, John Patrick soon became part of the equation of growth. However, all family members had a role to play in the progress of C.J. Moyna & Sons. Jerry’s two sons, Steve and James also became part of the company during the summer months. In fact, when Highway 330 was graded it was truly a family affair. Jack, Jerry, John P., Steve, James and Danny Steward were all part of the crew. 

State Park Projects

In the 1970s, CJ Moyna & Sons began doing work for the State Conservation Commission, building roads and parking lots at state parks such as the Yellow River Forest and at Pinicon Ridge Park in Cedar Rapids. 

Road Projects

The company’s big break in the construction business came when it started to get county-contracted road jobs, followed by larger jobs from the Iowa Department of Transportation. A few big road projects for the company in the 1970s and 1980s included:

  • Clayton Road East of Elkader, the company’s first big road venture
  • Highway 20 east of Peosta, the company’s first big project from the Iowa DOT
  • Upgrading Highway 20 from a two-lane to a four-lane from Hamilton County in north central Iowa, to Dubuque County and the Illinois border
  • Multiple portions of the Avenue of Saints freeway from St. Louis to St. Paul

Today CJ Moyna is one of the premier heavy-highway contractors in the Midwest.

Expanding the Business with New Subsidiaries – 2000s and Beyond

Over the course of 75 years, CJ Moyna & Sons expanded to add demolition; aggregate materials production and delivery; utilities installation; equipment development, manufacturing, and delivery; and advanced technology to its offerings. CJ Moyna has become a leader in the earthmoving industry across Iowa and the Midwest, with 475 employees across CJ Moyna and its four subsidiary companies formed to support CJ Moyna and the earthmoving industry in general:

  • Moyna Materials
  • Mobile Track Solutions
  • Progressive Structures
  • Just Move It
Focus on the Future with Innovation and Cutting-Edge Technologies with Today’s Leader – John P. Moyna

Today the company’s tradition continues with current owner, John Patrick Moyna. John P. fondly remembers his first ride on a bulldozer with his Grandpa Cecil and accompanying him on company errands as a young boy – usually with an extra stop for a soda pop thrown in. John P. learned everything he knows about running a business from the previous company president - his dad, Jack.

CJ Moyna has a strong focus on technology spearheaded by John P., the owner of U.S. patents for equipment helping to change the earthmoving industry.

Advanced Technologies

CJ Moyna has embraced telemetrics, with its own small air force of drones. This use of drones will increase significantly in coming years, as they’re used to estimate and coordinate all projects.

Soon operators will no longer sit in earthmoving machines but will use gaming and computer skills to operate equipment by remote control. Artificial intelligence will soon make grading decisions. And earthmoving equipment will continue to evolve – creating production efficiencies and increasing safety for workers, with fewer ergonomic injuries and environmental hazards.

“The earthmoving business has never looked so promising and exciting," reflects John P. Moyna. “The future of earthmoving belongs to the contractors and manufacturers who embrace the changes that are coming soon."

75th Anniversary Booklet