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Ralph Davis is the owner of RL Davis Contracting Services, a minority-owned hydro excavation company located in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley. Learn more at

When Ralph Davis, a retired 30-year veteran of We-Energies, started RL Davis Contracting Services in 2009, he knew there was a need in Milwaukee for experience and expertise in hydro excavation. This specialized digging process uses pressurized water to break up ground and remove it by vacuum into a debris tank. It is a non-destructive and more accurate way to excavate soil and locate underground utilities.

Fast forward nine years. RL Davis now has four employees, a roster of satisfied new and repeat customers, and a bright future. Earlier this year, Ralph was able to buy a new piece of equipment, which is allowing him to significantly increase the volume and scope of customer projects for his small business. That purchase was made possible through a loan from LRC.

Ralph recalls that the road to his second hydro excavator got off to a bumpy start.

“I had been to a number of banks with no success,” he said. “None of them seemed to want to take the time to really understand my experience, my business or my industry.” Ralph added, “Hydro excavating is a unique process, and I know it well. That’s not something you can understand just from a balance sheet.”

Ralph met Terese Caro, LRC’ chief lending officer, in late 2016 at a small business roundtable event in Milwaukee, which led to a formal meeting to discuss a loan.

“She was brutally honest with me,” Ralph remembered. “I left that meeting knowing just what I needed to supply, so they would see that my business really was a good investment.”

According to Ralph, it’s what happened next, that made the difference. “Legacy was the only lender that took the time to ask questions and really listen to my answers. They treated me like a person and not a balance sheet,” he said.

Terese said, “RL Davis Contracting Services is exactly the type of business that we want to invest in. LRC is uniquely focused on nonprofits and small businesses, many that are minority-owned.” She added, “By helping entrepreneurs find ways to buy that new piece of equipment or expand, LRC is able to revitalize Milwaukee neighborhoods, one loan at a time.”

LRC loans also help to secure futures. Just ask Ralph.

“My son Felando is my right hand man,” Ralph said. “I’m passing on to him everything that I learned over my long career. He’ll continue the good work of RL Davis Contracting Services for at least another generation.”

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