flexiblefullpage - default
Currently Reading

Soil Connect Is Moving Dirt and Building Relationships

Advertisement
billboard - default
Q+A

Soil Connect Is Moving Dirt and Building Relationships

Cliff Fetner created Soil Connect so builders and developers could more easily move dirt and other aggregates from jobsite to jobsite, but it has expanded to become something much more


By Layne Deakins, Associate Editor August 1, 2023
Bucket loader loading dirt into a dump truck on a construction jobsite
Soil Connect simplifies the process of moving dirt while creating a platform for developers to connect. | Image: PickOne / stock.adobe.com
This article first appeared in the July/August 2023 issue of Pro Builder.
Cliff Fetner headshot
Cliff Fetner
Founder and CEO
Soil Connect

Soil Connect is one of those practical businesses that just makes so much sense, you wonder why it wasn’t started sooner. Created by third-generation builder and developer Cliff Fetner, Soil Connect simplifies the process of recycling and relocating excavated dirt and other aggregates commonly wasted in the land development and building process.

The start-up’s online aspect is as simple (and brilliant) as its business model: search, click, and request to send or receive materials to or from a jobsite with live tracking and updates—a platform that earned Fetner first place in the Design+Build category at the 2023 Housing Innovation Summit’s Pitchfest competition. Soil Connect also enables a network for home builders, developers, trade workers, and even those outside of the industry to connect, communicate, and find resources that extend far beyond just moving soil.

PRO BUILDER: When did you first notice the need for a better system for moving dirt?

Cliff Fetner: I began working in the building industry with a family business in metro New York [City], and after several years, I started my own venture developing properties in Brooklyn. I broke ground on a project in 2018 and ended up with a pile of dirt I couldn’t get rid of. I realized not only that it was a common problem among builders and developers, but it also presented an opportunity for a new resource for people in the industry. 

PB: How does Soil Connect work?

CF: Our platform works like Airbnb, in a sense. You can sign up for free, and once you’re a registered user, you have access to active sites in your local marketplace with pinned locations, all looking to receive or get rid of dirt or other aggregates.

We have 22 different types of dirt, from compost and mulch to recycled concrete, and we match people looking to get rid of those aggregates with other users who need them. Once users match, they can communicate through the app.


RELATED


PB: Apart from just moving dirt, what other resources does Soil Connect provide to users?

CF: One of the most significant things we do is create closer connections by putting everyone in the dirt ecosystem in one place at one time. Home builders hang out with home builders, and Soil Connect brings them together. A user can look at their map through our app and see where other builders or developers are located and what projects they’re working on. 

But it’s not just home builders. We’re currently approaching 1,000 users, and that also includes general contractors, developers, dump truck drivers, landscapers, pool contractors, farmers, and ranchers. 

Now people who may otherwise never meet are being put in the same sphere to connect with one another. That kind of efficiency and connectivity has never existed before in this industry.

Not only are we recycling dirt, but we’re recycling concrete, which has one of the most substantial carbon footprints in the industry.

PB: Can you speak to the environmental impact of recycling dirt and aggregates?

CF: Not only are we recycling dirt, but we’re recycling concrete, which has one of the most substantial carbon footprints in the industry. On infill sites, for example, contractors are crushing concrete, putting it on our platform, and recycling it by selling it to others who can use it. The same can be said for other materials. We’re making it easier for builders to recycle. 

In addition, instead of being forced to drive dozens of miles to dump those aggregates, people using our platform can find someone closer who actually needs them. In that sense, Soil Connect is saving money, time, gas, and, in turn, is helping the environment.

PB: Is this also a more cost-effective solution for developers?

CF: Definitely. A case study we conducted with ARCO/Murray Construction revealed that we helped them save $185K on a project in North Texas. Before our involvement, the estimated cost to move 21,000 cubic yards [CY] of common fill clay was over $400K, with a time frame of more than eight to nine weeks.

We ultimately stepped in and helped ARCO/Murray Construction remove 21,000 CY of wet clay in 1,615 loads over a four-week period. That saved the company an average of $115 per CY load, and it also had a major environmental impact. We calculated that total miles traveled was reduced by more than 58,000, which, in turn, saved more than 11,000 gallons of diesel fuel and reduced CO2 emission by 130.2 tons.

PB: What’s next for Soil Connect?

CF: I see an ability to create even more connections in the industry through AI [artificial intelligence]. I want to become a one-stop shop for any and all dirt needs, and above all, I want to make things simple for our users. That means employing a live tracking geofence to keep an eye on trucks for a fast, easy way to track the entire process of relocating aggregates. 

We’re also using e-ticketing to help users finalize transactions and get paid faster. That can take some time to integrate among drivers who aren’t familiar with that kind of technology, so we’re also working to train and onboard those users to get them set up with that system. 

Soil Connect won its category of the first annual “Pitchfest” at the 2023 Innovation Summit hosted by the Housing Innovation Alliance

 

Advertisement
leaderboard2 - default
Written By

Layne Deakins is the associate editor for Pro Builder, PRODUCTS, and Custom Builder. She writes feature articles, contributes HorizonTV videos, manages social media accounts, and produces e-newsletters for all three brands. Layne is a 2021 graduate of Pennsylvania State University.

Related Stories

Sales + Marketing

Q+A With Jenny Laible: The Keys to a Community Lifestyle Program

The National Association of Home Builders' 2024 Lifestyle Director of the Year talks about authenticity, knowing your neighbors, and her chill approach to social media

Construction

Q+A With Jenny Kerr Schroen and Chris Eccleston: Grit Leads to Greatness

The co-authors of Grit Leads to Greatness: An Epic Quest Built to Change the World are getting an enthusiastic response to their book and are finding its message resonates deeply with students, school administrators, and parents alike

Sponsored A Builder Discusses Product Strategy
Q+A

A Builder Discusses Product Strategy

Which products make a difference? Andrew Houlihan of Houlihan Building Company dives into what kinds of products matter to builders and their clients, including the Marvin Elevate® and Essential Collections

Advertisement
boombox1 -
Advertisement
native1 - default
halfpage2 -

More in Category

Delaware-based Schell Brothers, our 2023 Builder of the Year, brings a refreshing approach to delivering homes and measuring success with an overriding mission of happiness

NAHB Chairman's Message: In a challenging business environment for home builders, and with higher housing costs for families, the National Association of Home Builders is working to help home builders better meet the nation's housing needs

Sure there are challenges, but overall, Pro Builder's annual Housing Forecast Survey finds home builders are optimistic about the coming year

Advertisement
native2 - default
Advertisement
halfpage1 -

Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.


Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Subscribe
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.