In the very early ’80s, Gail Porter and her family manufactured and sold large satellite TV systems. They installed big dish antennae systems in the southeastern part of South Carolina, near where they lived. It wasn’t long before they realized that they could work more efficiently and productively if they had a piece of equipment that would dig a trench so they could install the cable.
Sure, there were trenchers on the market, but they were large, heavy and costly. They didn’t need that type of equipment; they were looking for a small unit that would be easy to haul around, but strong enough to do the work.
When they shopped around, they couldn’t find a piece of equipment to suit their requirements, so they decided to build a machine that would fill their needs. As it is said, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention,’ and this is the perfect example. The Porters knew that they wanted to produce only quality products, so they aligned themselves with a company that also took pride in producing quality products.
In 1982, E-Z Trench Manufacturing Company was born. The first unit they produced was the J1000, a small walk-behind machine that is still being produced and sold to this day. As Gail Porter says, “We found a need and filled it.”
The Porters traveled around, selling their machine to contractors in the cable/satellite industry. In 1986, that market began changing. Big dish antennae systems were being phased out to make room for cable television and the Porters realized that they had to branch out.
They began to look for other markets. One of the markets they targeted was the landscape industry; the irrigation market looked pretty exciting. After all, larger contractors were already using large trenching equipment, but they were expensive. If a contractor needed a trencher for a day, he would rent one. Here was a perfect opportunity to offer a small, quality unit and at a very affordable price.
E-Z Trench began selling into the landscape market and the rental market, and things were looking up. However, with slowdowns, the recession, etc., there were bumps in the road; but Gail, who was raised on a farm, knew about hard work.
Along with being the owner of a company that sold equipment worldwide, Gail was raising three children—a pair of twins, Scotty and Monty, and a daughter Crystal, who is the youngest. Gail now has eight grandchildren, who she says, “keep her young.”
Upon graduating from high school, Scotty and Monty went on to Coastal Carolina University. Scotty graduated with a degree in business, while Monty received his degree in graphic design. They both started families of their own, and entered the work force.
Eventually, the family business beckoned, and they decided to join it. Scotty came on board in 1998, and Monty followed in 2003. Scotty is the marketing director for the company and does IT, while Monty concentrates on sales. Gail is in charge of the office, among other things. “It’s a small family business,” she said. “We all do whatever it takes to keep this company healthy.”
The Porters knew that they had to add more products to their line. The J1000, although it was built to last, is still just one product. And while it is still being produced and sold today, it has been upgraded just once over the past 33 years. So over the years, additional products were added. For example, the Groundsaw will trench 100 feet in approximately five minutes, and will trench 13 inches deep by 2½ inches wide. Landscape edgers were also added, as well as wire and cable installers.
A few years ago, self-propelled brush cutters made it into the lineup. Scotty remarked, “We have to stay on top of the market. We will continue to introduce new products in the future. We just recently introduced an aerator, as well as a piece of equipment for installing subsurface drip irrigation.”
Monty said, “We have schools, like North Carolina State, contacting us about our equipment, to introduce students to more efficient methods of installing irrigation products, other than larger, more expensive machines.”
The company holds a number of patents, but the most important ingredient that goes into this company’s mix is the quality of the products they market. As for the future, they see more of the same. “We will continue to develop, patent and introduce new products,” said Scotty. “We see some substantial growth in the near future, and E-Z Trench will be there.” One concern Monty mentioned was that he saw many small family-owned businesses being swallowed up by larger corporations.
Scotty and his wife Jeana have three girls, ages 13, 7 and 5. They devote time to tennis, dance and karate. Monty and his wife Dixie have two girls, ages 17 and 11. When he’s not working at the company, Monty spends his time as the pastor of The Sanctuary at Good Hope, a church his father-in-law began. The Porters believe in family, giving back to the community, and sharing their faith to others who are seeking direction spiritually.
As for Gail, she had always wanted to own a boutique shop for women. Earlier this year, she opened that business and now divides her time between EZ Trench, her grandchildren and her new clothing boutique.
With a strong belief and faith, the Porter family is growing a business that fills a need; more importantly, they’re proud of producing quality products, knowing how well they perform in the field. Their slogan is, “Quality Equipment that gives Quality Results.”
Along the way, they are leaving a legacy that will stand the test of time.