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Patrick “Tuffy” Bakaitis services all his own equipment and still operates his first dozer, a John Deere 450D purchased in 1987. He is also a proud owner of a new 450K dozer.

A Rare and Diverse General Contractor

In 1985, a large road construction project was underway on Route 7, in the town of Hoosick, New York. A brand-new and work-hungry entrepreneur, Patrick “Tuffy” Bakaitis, saw this as a perfect footin- the-door opportunity for his newly established business, Hoosick Sand & Gravel. After all, he was just five miles down the road from the project. Patrick approached the Callanan Industries foreman, the company that was overseeing the work, and offered the use of his one-and-only site truck. With that, he accepted his first job as the sole owner and operator of Hoosick Sand & Gravel. In just a matter of weeks of working on Route 7, Hoosick Sand & Gravel went from owning just one truck, to owning and running three dump trucks with three drivers every day.

A few months later, Hoosick Sand & Gravel was hired to do their first major job. Patrick determined he needed a rubber-tired backhoe, which he did not have, nor did he have the money. Despite his discouraging circumstance, Patrick visited the local John Deere dealer in Clifton Park, NY. Here, he was introduced to the late salesman, Bob Eastman, whom Patrick would later regard as a dear friend, and one of the reasons why he would become the successful contractor he is today. Patrick explained the job to Mr. Eastman, and his plans of appropriately executing the situation – if only he had a rubber-tired backhoe. Trusting the brilliant and motivated twenty-six-year-old entrepreneur, Mr. Eastman recommended Patrick take and try out a new 1985 John Deere backhoe. “He told me if I didn’t like it, just bring it back. No problem,’” Patrick recalls. “He really listened to me and trusted me. He didn’t blow me off because of the way I dressed, my age, or my circumstance, which is what any other place would have done. He gave me a chance.” That day, Patrick left the lot with the rubber-tired backhoe. Days later, he called Mr. Eastman and they set up an easy payment plan that would work for the new business. Laughing at the memory, Patrick tells, “A few weeks later, I went back down and asked Bob for a brand-new bulldozer for another job I had taken. He let me take a new, 1987, 450D dozer – the same one we still use today.” Patrick boasts that the machine has been used so much, that the skin on the blade has been replaced once, and the tracks have been changed three times. “But still no engine problems, though, I can always count on that,” remarks Patrick.

Fast forward to today, Hoosick Sand & Gravel recently purchased a new John Deere 450K dozer. “We should have done it ten years ago,” Patrick chuckles. He and the crew enjoy all the newest features that have been added to the dozer since 1987 – such as air conditioning, sound-proof cab, radio, and finger controls – to name a few. Today 95% of their fleet is John Deere with Patrick doing his own maintenance. “My John Deere equipment has never given up on me, it has never broken down. I trust it to work for me. Whether I am six miles up a mountain, in the middle of the forest, or working on a busy intersection in town, I never worry about my John Deere equipment leaving me stranded,” says Patrick. He adds that servicing his equipment is easy, and therefore, always running the way it’s supposed to. Patrick adds that the controls on his John Deere equipment “makes sense” and makes it easy to learn and run it quickly. Patrick’s 24- year old daughter, Samantha, and 22-year old son, Jacob, are co-operators in the business and work alongside their father. Patrick’s mother, Peg, oversees the office work and keeping track of accounts and billing. The company is completely owned and operated by the close-knit Bakaitis family.

Since his first time being sub-contracted out with just one dump truck, Patrick has not only been a part of but has played much bigger roles in even larger commercial projects. In 1994, Patrick was hired as a sub-contractor to close the Hoosick Falls landfill. A few years later he was hired to help install the Hoosick Falls sewer treatment plant, operate and own his own gravel pit, and help excavate several large area commercial projects. He was the head sub-contractor at the Walloomsac paper mill for twenty-six years, until it closed in the early 2000’s. “I outlasted three different owners!” Patrick remarked. During the entire summer of 2017, Patrick was contracted out by the H&B Bridge company to haul material to and from the job site, “In my thirty-plus years of business, that has been my favorite contractor to ever work for,” smiled Patrick.

“We are a fix-it company. We fix everything. Whether it be a problem-flooding basement, a defective septic system, failed foundation, driveway wash-out, a leaky pond, a wet yard, or other types of erosion control, we fix those things. That’s mostly what we do,” Patrick explains of Hoosick Sand & Gravel. “I would call myself, ‘A Diverse General Contractor’ – one of the last of its kind,” Patrick explains that he doesn’t see future companies being able to “cover all of the ground that we do”. In addition to being a “fix-it company,” Hoosick Sand & Gravel also does general excavation work, such as foundation installations, digging water/electric lines, making roads and/or driveways, and Patrick’s favorite, building ponds. Many of these jobs require topsoil, which the company also produces via the screening plant that Patrick built for himself in 1988, at the age of twenty-seven.

From 2014-2015, Patrick co-starred in National Geographic’s first DIY reality television series, “Building Wild”. He has the show to thank for his popular nickname, “Tuffy”. The combination of Patrick’s positive rapport that extends far beyond Hoosick Falls, his vast knowledge of the surrounding area’s landscape, and his extensive collection of large equipment, landed him as the ideal personality for what the executive producer of the show, George Verschoor, was looking for. Not only did Tuffy own the equipment the show production required – and then some – but he also had, and possessed the knowledge to invent, “homegrown inventions” (as he refers to them) – the unique tools and attachments that worked seamlessly with Hoosick Sand & Gravel’s John Deere equipment.

Patrick says of his time on “Building Wild”, “It was a unique experience. It taught people how to overcome build site obstacles in difficult locations, in a safe way, and without wrecking the surrounding environment. It was a great experience to test my limitations – and show off my skills in the machines.”



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