August 2016, Vol. 71 No. 8


Superstore Concept Sets Georgia Underground Apart

Twenty-five years ago, David Bartosh quit his job at an equipment rental store to establish an underground construction supply business in the Atlanta, GA, area.

Bartosh’s new company was a parts supply and service business operated from his home garage. Operations soon moved to a 700-square-foot rented space. As business grew, several moves were made to larger and larger buildings. Today, the home base of Georgia Underground Supply Inc. is a 61,000-square-foot facility in Forest Park, GA, near the Atlanta airport. A second 41,000-square-foot store opened in Dallas, TX, in 2013.

Early on, Bartosh knew he wanted his supply business to be “different,” and he believes several things set Georgia Underground apart from other suppliers serving the underground construction market.
For example, inventory. At any given time, Georgia Underground superstores have more than 6,000 different items worth about $5 million in stock, ready to pick up.

There are shovels, duct and duct couplings, underground vaults and boxes, wire and cable, paving patch, safety products and protective equipment, confined space entry equipment, trencher chain and teeth, and vibratory plow blades. For horizontal directional drilling (HDD) customers, there is a broad selection of drill pipe, bits and backreamers, sondes and sonde housings, pulling swivels, fluid additives and much more.

Equipment includes piercing tools, reel trailers and cable handling and installation equipment, compactors, compressors, generators and portable lighting.


Products are displayed in an easy-to-navigate “showroom” more like a retail store than construction supply house. Well-known brand names include Dura-Line, TT Technologies, Wacker, Railhead, Premier Pipe, Condux and Pengo.

“We have about everything that is needed for any underground construction project,” said Bartosh. “We are a one-stop source for those in the underground construction business. I am not aware of any other operation serving the underground market like we do.”

For example, he said, specialty supply houses have a very narrow focus: electrical, plumbing, etc. Big supply operations have huge, very broad selections, but don’t carry many of the specialized underground products available at Georgia Underground.

“Equipment dealers sell and service equipment and parts to fit their product line, but don’t stock conduit, cable and other essential supplies,” Bartosh continued. “Need a custom-cut length fiber cable? We’ll sell you what you need, so you don’t have to buy a whole reel. With HDPE conduit, we also stock shorter put ups for small jobs.”

Service is the other thing that sets Georgia Underground apart from conventional suppliers. “Buy a tool or pump or generator from an electrical supply house and if there’s a problem while the product is under warranty, the buyer has to make the claim. Out of warranty, the buyer is on his own,” said Bartosh. “For many products, there may not be a local source for repairs. We service everything we sell.”
In addition, members of the sales staff not only know the products they sell, but understand how they are used.

“With our inventory and knowledge of the underground industry, customers can depend on us for sound recommendations about what will best serve their needs,” Bartosh said. “Our continuing goal is to remain relevant and provide added value wherever we can.”
Such an attitude and performance brings respect from both customers and the companies whose products are distributed.

“I always have admired Georgia Underground for its ability to offer one-stop shopping,” said Tim Grimsley, senior vice president of Dura-Line, a leading manufacturer of communications and energy infrastructure products and systems, including conduit, cable-in-conduit, pipe and accessories.

“The facilities,” Grimsley continued, “are organized and well stocked. You literally can come in and load up everything you might need to build a communications network – from a simple shovel or safety vest to HDD drilling pipe and downhole tools, locaters, duct, handholds, cable – everything in one location.”

Grimsley said when Dura-Line hires new sales people, they often are sent to Georgia Underground. “We tell them that this is what a stocking distributor should be,” he added.

Birth of a concept

Reflecting on the establishment and early days of the business, Bartosh said pneumatic piercing tools played a role in developing the Georgia Underground business model.

“When I was still at the rental store, we were renting a lot of TT Technologies piercing tools to underground contractors,” he explained. “But we didn’t repair them, and there was no place locally that did it either.

“After a demo one day, Eddie Ward [TT Technologies representative for Grundomat] and I were talking about that, and Eddie said, ‘Why don’t you start a company and take over the line, sell them and repair them, too.’”

It wasn’t long before Bartosh did exactly that. He left the rental company, started his distributor business and entered into an agreement with TT Technologies to sell and service its piercing tools.

“The lessons I learned were that when a contractor needs something, he needs it now,” said Bartosh. “And further, if something breaks down on a job, it needs to be fixed or replaced immediately. I wanted my supply company to be ‘different,’ and these were two ways to do it.”

Georgia Underground continues to be a distributor for TT Technologies products.

“Georgia Underground has been a great business since day one,” said Chris Brahler, president and chief executive officer of TT Technologies. “Great people, great work ethic. Very good outside people who know how to take care of customers. Everyone is committed to customer service.”

Growth continues

Bartosh sees a bright future. Additional stores are possible, and he is considering manufacturing some of the light equipment used by the industry.

“We serve the same basic market categories we always have,” said Bartosh, “but we are flexible to make changes and adapt to changing needs.

“We’re seriously into fiber now, selling cable, cable blowers, fiber installation and testing equipment, closures, everything fiber. With companies such as Google, Verizon, AT&T and all the independents expanding and upgrading their systems, we continuously find new opportunities to expand and service the underground construction sector in a comprehensive manner.”
Georgia Underground hasn’t done much advertising, depending on recommendations of satisfied customers to bring in new customers. The company began publishing catalogs and introduced a website that has become a source for online sales throughout the country.

Georgia Underground,

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