A Special Issue of ON Y OUR O WN Magazine 7AEDC0583 Cat ® C-Series backhoe loaders get even better —page 8 Ride Control is a big hit with Louisville contractor Cat ® C-Series backhoe loaders get even better —page 8 —page 4 —page 4 Ride Control is a big hit with Louisville contractor
Ride Control is a big hitwith Louisville contractor
Cat ® C-Series backhoeloaders get even better
—page 4—page 4
Ride Control is a big hitwith Louisville contractor
Now you can conquer any road—even
when there isn't one. With our new advanced
Ride Control option and standard air-suspension seat,
the C-series backhoe gives you a smoother ride and better
load retention. Its superior visibility lets
you clearly see what’s ahead. Contact your
Caterpillar dealer and discover how to work hard
and rest easy at the same time.
YOU’LL SEE EVERY BUMP IN THE ROAD, BUT YOU WON’T FEEL ‘EM.
T h e C - S e r i e s B a c k h o e . H a r d W o r k . E a s y C h a i r.
IN THIS ISSUE
ON YOUR OWN • 3
Backhoe Loader Focus Issue is a special issue of On Your Own magazine. It is published by Northbrook Publishing, a division of Randall Publishing Company, Inc., on behalf of Caterpillarand your Cat dealer. Every attempt has been made to assure featured equipment specifications are accurate. Because specifications are subject to change without notice, check with yourCat dealer for latest equipment information. Northbrook Publishing, a division of Randall Publishing Co., Inc., 21420 West Greenfield Ave., New Berlin, WI 53146. Phone (414) 650-9260.
7 Racing BHL winnerColorado contractor places topbid for specially painted 416 ITracing backhoe loader.
8 1999 EnhancementsCat C-Series backhoe loaders get even better.
10 Canadian On SiteCat 426C takes on the frozen tundra.
12 BHL inspectionSharpen your competitive edgewith a daily walkaroundinspection.
14 Simple formula for success
17 416C ITMaximum machine utilization iscritical to highway contractor’ssuccess.
20 Machine versatilityNot just your average Joe.
23 Staying powerQuality work keeps contractor inbusiness for 31 years.
26 Backhoe loader operatorefficiency tips
At 33 years old, Tim Filiatreau would most cer-tainly be considered a young man. But the
managing member of Filcon ConstructionLLC, Louisville, Kentucky, brought more than 15 years of construction experience to the compa-ny he started a little more than two years ago.
Filcon is a site preparation and utility contrac-tor, concentrating on commercial projects andresidential subdivision work that includes gradingand installation of storm and sanitary sewer andwater lines.
“Our strength is the smaller job,” Filiatreausays. “In my opinion, there’s more profit in jobsless than $500,000. We have more control overquality and scheduling because we can managethe projects hands-on. And, because we usesmaller machines, we don’t have as much workingcapital tied up in larger, more expensiveequipment as a larger contractor. Backhoe loadersand smaller dozers fit the type of work we do.”
In his last position, Filiatreau worked as a fieldsuperintendent for a large contractor. He saw thatbigger companies shied away from the type ofprojects he goes after because they had to keep asizable workforce and large fleet of machinesbusy, even if the project didn’t offer a reasonable
profit margin. Success at Filcon is based onestimating the job correctly and completing thework as efficiently as possible.
“We try to be very aggressive and efficient inour approach to the jobs we do,” he says. “It’simportant to stay on top of crews to make surewe’re as productive as possible. That’s anotherreason smaller work is better for us.”
Run latest Cat 416C IT backhoe loader
Filcon owns several pieces of Caterpillarequipment, including D5C, D6R and D5M XLdozers; 225D LC excavator; 953C track loaderand a 1997 416C backhoe loader. The contractoris leasing a Cat 416C IT backhoe loader and isconsidering the purchase of a 325 excavator.
Filiatreau demo’d the 416C IT earlier this yearat Caterpillar Building Construction Productsheadquarters in Clayton, North Carolina, andwas impressed with the Power Shift transmissionand new features like Ride Control.
“Power Shift is very efficient,” he says, “and it’sa reliable, durable transmission. When anoperator is carrying material for any distance, theability to upshift with the flip of a switch is a realplus. The machines moves along faster, as
opposed to the operator having to reachand shift gears. The result is that themachine is getting back and forth fasterand more efficiently.”
Caterpillar’s new Ride Control featureis a big hit.
“Everyone likes it,” Filiatreau contin-ues, “and it’s made a big difference forseveral reasons. I can see where it willreduce wear and tear on the front of themachine. I’ve never seen a backhoe withthe front end loaded that wasn’t bounc-ing and beating the machine whileroading on an uneven surface. WithoutRide Control, travel is rough, which ishard on the machine and operator. Timeis money, and if our operators can workmore quickly that’s to our advantage.”
GETTING MORE DONE
4 • ON YOUR OWN
Hands-on profitabilitySMALL CONTRACTOR FOLLOWS
EVERY PATH TO EFFICIENCY
made a big
difference.”— Tim FiliatreauFilcon Construction
Work tool versatilityWork tool versatility is the main rea-
son Filiatreau selected the 416C ITbackhoe loader with an Integrated Tool-carrier linkage. A bigger bucket (1.25yards compared to 1 yard for the oldermachine) is more productive for movingbedding material, stone and pipe. Whenit’s time to carry pipe, the operator switch-es to the fork attachment, which iscompleted in seconds without leaving the cab.
“Operators have told me the visibilityis better with this new Cat backhoe,” hesays. “The parallel lift feature is impor-tant when we’re unloading pipe from atall truck; there’s more reach. And, withan IT machine we can add more tools. Infact, we’re looking at a broom attach-ment.”
Filcon finds the 416C IT to be theright size machine for the type of work it does.
“We don’t do a lot of heavy digging,”Filiatreau says, “and when we do we usea Cat 325 excavator. The 416C IT isfaster and more efficient for jobs likefinish grading around buildings. For abusiness our size and the type of work wedo, a machine this size is a necessity. Wechose the IT option because it makes themachine so much more versatile. Oneday the 416C IT might be packingtopsoil and finishing around a building,and the next it’s packing rock, workingwith a pipe crew or loading topsoil
on a truck.”If Filiatreau keeps a machine for a
long period, he buys it. In fact, Filconhas been adding about three pieces ofequipment a year.
“I’ve always been a Caterpillar man,” hesays. “I have a lot of faith in their equip-ment and Caterpillar stands behind itsproduct. That’s worth a whole lot to me.”
Filcon is too young a company tohave established a realistic equipmenttrade cycle, but Filiatreau won’t let toomuch age get on his primary machines.
“Downtime is too costly during thepeak work season,” he says. “I can’t affordit. We’re leasing the 325 excavator toreplace the 225. I don’t want to dependon an older piece of equipment as a pri-mary machine. The new 325 will workday-in, day-out with no downtime.”
Filiatreau has a long history withCaterpillar and his local dealer.
“I know I’ll do better with them,” hesays. “I know I get better service fromthem than I could get with anyone else.”
Contractor starts strongFiliatreau got into the construction
industry at age 18 as a laborer. For 11years he worked for a site and utility con-tractor, the final period as general super-intendent in charge of day-to-day fieldoperations.
Filcon was started in April of 1997.The company did $1.5 million in busi-ness its first eight months and $3 million
last year. Rev-enues for 1999are projectedat $4 million.
“I saw dif-ferent ways ofdoing thingsto becomemore profitable,” Filiatreau says. “It’salways been a goal that some day I wouldhave my own business. We go after$300,000 to $400,000 jobs in theLouisville area and surrounding counties.I don’t see us growing a lot more; we won’tadd much more than $1 or $2 million inrevenue. I want a smaller company whereI can stay involved with what’s happeningon a daily basis. Today, we have aboutthree projects going on at once, and I usu-ally see them every other day.”
What are the keys to success? Accord-ing to Filiatreau, it’s knowledgeable, expe-rienced supervision and good, dependableequipment.
“Estimating correctly is critical forany job to succeed,” he says. “On the onehand, we’ve got to keep work for ourpeople; but on the other side we can’tstarve the company by doing work thatisn’t profitable. I’m not out here just tothrow a bunch of hours on equipment. Iwant to have something down the road.We’re trying to build a future for every-one involved in this company.” ■
ON YOUR OWN • 5
“We chose the IT option because itmakes the machinemuch more versatile,”Filiatreau says.
6 • ON YOUR OWN
Versatility. It’s the name of the game in today’smarketplace. The more tasks your backhoeloader can perform, the fewer single-pur-
pose machines you need.With versatile, multi-task backhoe loaders
from Caterpillar, you can be more efficient oneach job, and you’ll be able to put more on thebottom line.
Caterpillar C-Series backhoe loaders are avail-able with an Integrated Toolcarrier linkage andstandard hydraulic quick coupler. This innovativeconfiguration makes it fast and easy to takeadvantage of numerous Cat IT work tools. And,you can add a quick coupler to the backhoe end,too, for versatility on the front and rear of yourmachine.
Many work tool choicesThe most common attachments used on the
front end of a backhoe loader are general-purposebuckets, multi-purpose buckets, pallet forks andbrooms.
The most common applications for GP buck-ets are earthmoving and grading. MP buckets areused for earthmoving, grading and stump anddebris removal. Pallet forks are used for unloadingtrucks and moving palletized material such asbricks, pipe, mortar mix and other constructionmaterials.
The most common attachments utilized onthe rear end of a backhoe loader are buckets ofvarious sizes, hammers, augers, and compactors.Bucket widths range from 12” to 60” and can bedesigned to handle a variety of materials. Forexample, heavy-duty buckets are a more ruggeddesign than standard-duty buckets, extreme-ser-vice buckets are able to withstand highly abrasive
materials, and high-capacity buckets combine thedesign and construction of the heavy-duty bucketwith a longer tip radius, resulting in a bucket withincreased volume for more productivity in manymaterials.
Backhoe buckets can also be fitted withthumbs for pinching and grabbing, and are avail-able with ripping teeth along the bottom of thebucket for extra ripping action in frozen or com-pacted material. Swinger couplers or tilt-ditchbuckets assist in applications such as ditch clean-ing. Hammers are used in road construction anddemolition as well as in breaking concrete torepair water mains, bridges and parking lots.Augers can be used to dig postholes or holes forplanting shrubbery or trees. Compactors are usedto help finish jobs by compacting material thathas been backfilled into a trench.
Cold planers are used to grind and removeasphalt or concrete. Grapples are common onhydraulic excavators and are now available onbackhoe loaders.
Versatility spells successVersatility has always been critical to the suc-
cess of backhoe loaders. As Caterpillar and worktool manufacturers expand the versatility of thesemachines, Cat backhoe loaders will continue tobe in high demand. The use of quick couplers onthe front and rear of the backhoe loader will expe-dite the use of compatible work tools. Quickhydraulic disconnects will speed the interchangeof hydro-mechanical tools.
At Caterpillar, versatility is such a vital issuethat we have a dedicated group, Work Tools andServices, to focus on this business for BuildingConstruction Products. ■
Let work tools helpgrow your business
Gene Bonds was surprised — and very pleased —when he was told he placed the winning bid forCaterpillar’s specially painted 416C IT racing
backhoe loader.“I never imagined
I’d win this machine,”he says, “but now thatit’s part of our equip-ment fleet, I’m going tobe pretty picky aboutwhich of my operatorsgets to run it.”
Bonds is owner ofBonds ConstructionCo., Durango, Col-orado. The contractor,in business since 1983,does excavating, roadbuilding and commer-cial site preparation.
And Bonds is no stranger to Caterpillarmachines. His fleet includes 426, 416C and416C IT backhoe loaders, 950E wheel loader,D3 and D5H dozers, 307 excavator with anarticulated boom and a 140G motor grader.The company is renting two 315B excavators.
“I bought my 426 backhoe loader in 1990,”he says. “It’s logged more than 10,000 hourswith no problems. I purchased a 416C ITabout a month ago, so I knew what I was get-ting with this special racing edition machine.Caterpillar equipment is very dependable, andthe parts availability from my local Cat dealer isgreat. This new machine will fit right in, eventhough it’s bound to stand out.”
The bid competition was in celebration ofthe production of Caterpillar’s 100,000th backhoeloader. Caterpillar will split the proceeds of the auctionof this 416C IT race backhoe between the Motor Rac-ing Outreach program and Special Olympics. ■
ON YOUR OWN • 7
And the winner is . . . Colorado contractor places top bid for speciallypainted 416C IT racing backhoe loader
Gene Bonds, left, andhis wife, Lori, whohad an equal part inthe bidding process.
Caterpillar® backhoe loaders are very versatileand popular machines because they combinemany features of a wheel loader and an excava-
tor. In fact, many contractors started their businesseswith only a backhoe loader because of its versatility,maneuverability, transportability, low operating costand overall value.
C-Series improvements continueSince their introduction in 1996, the added ver-
satility and comfort of C-Series backhoe loadershave been well received. The introduction of thePower Shift option a year ago further improved easeof operation and productivity. C-Series improve-ments continue with changes that provide you withbetter horsepower and hydraulic performance, asmoother ride and increased productivity.
A stronger backhoe with greater lifting capacity isthe result of many key changes. A larger bore boomcylinder gives the backhoe more lift capacity. Theheavy-duty boom structure provides greater strengthand durability. The new, open boom nose designprovides easier access for inspections in high-hour,severe applications. The backhoe Quick Coupler hasbeen improved for higher rotation and therefore bet-ter vertical wall digging capabilities.
A much smoother ride is very noticeable with thenew Ride Control option. Improved operator effi-ciency, better load retention and improved cycletimes will be achieved with Ride Control.Combined with the new, standard air-suspensionseat, operator comfort is significantly enhanced.
The advanced controls of the Cat load-sensinghydraulic system will continue to offer superior per-formance while saving you money in fuel andcomponent wear and tear. A new dual-setting torque
limiter automat-ically optimizesthe hydraulicsystem for back-hoe or loaderapplications.
Better liftingbackhoe With the new
larger diameterboom cylinder,actual lift num-ber s have in -creased up to 20
percent over current C-Series machines. These newmachines will provide industry-leading lift capacitywhile maintaining fast cycle times.
Improved boom designThe new heavy-duty boom structure design
matches the backhoe’s larger lifting loads and moreaggressive digging performance. This new design isopen at the boom-to-stick pin bore and is supportedby 30 mm (1.18 inch) thick solid steel boom siderails. In addition, the new boom nose allows easyinspection and access for second-life repair on high-hour, severe-duty jobs.
Splined boom pins with longitudinal grease slotstrap grease between the pin and bushing providingmore lubrication in highly-loaded applications.
12 degrees more rotation for better vertical wall dig-ging and easier changeout of tools without changingbucket pins. This increases rotation to 175 degrees.The new Quick Coupler allows digging a deeper ver-tical wall while still being able to close the bucket fortruck loading. Clamping distance is improved by 1to 3 inches for the ability to close the bucket forloading materials like concrete or asphalt slabs.
This coupler is a pin-grabber type, which willpick up all standard pin-on work tools such as buck-ets, hammers, augers, cold planers and rippers. Thisimproved coupler not only offers the ease of chang-ing work tools quickly, but also the added value ofmore rotation, eliminating the need to switch pinlocations. Most work tools can be changed in aboutone minute.
Ride Control SystemThe Caterpillar Ride Control System is now
available on all C-Series backhoe loaders. The systemincorporates a nitrogen accumulator in the loaderlift circuit to smooth the ride in all conditions,including load-and-carry, highway roading or gener-al maneuvering around the jobsite.
The system is easily engaged with a flip of theswitch on the front console. On the Power Shiftmachine, the Ride Control switch offers three posi-tions: On, Off and Automatic (on machines withoutPower Shift, positions are on/off ). In the automaticposition, the ride control engages automatically astravel speed increases to 6.2 mph. At low speed (lessthan 4.4 mph), the system disengages for loading,grading or finishing applications.
Cat C-Series backhoe lo
ON YOUR OWN • 9
aders get even better
Ride Control benefits include smoother ride, which reducesmachine loping while roading, better material retention duringload-and-carry operations, and increased operator comfort.
There is a Ride Control kit available for field installation orretrofitting earlier C-Series machines.
Air-suspension seatThe exclusive Caterpillar air-suspension seat is standard on all
Cat backhoe loaders. The seat utilizes an air adjustment mecha-nism instead of the traditional mechanical linkage found in mostbackhoe loaders. This allows for a greater operating range andsuperior ride in all conditions. By simply pressing a button, theseat can be tailored to offer support to different body weights. Thevariable height and weight adjustments provide a wide range ofsettings so every operator is comfortable operating the Caterpillarbackhoe. The seat swivel has been improved for quieter and moredurable operation.
Hydraulic system improvementsEnhancements to the variable displacement pump in the load-
sensing hydraulic system now provide better performance in bothbackhoe and loader operations through a dual setting torque lim-iter. The new pump torque limiter control improves powerdistribution to the hydraulic system during backhoe operationsand optimizes power balance between the loader hydraulic circuitand drivetrain during front loader operations.
The operator will notice this primarily when using the loader inproduction digging by providing more engine speed under load,therefore leading to more efficient production. The advanced con-
trols of the Cat load-sensing hydraulic systemoffer superior performance while reducing fuelconsumption, component wear and coolingcosts.
More product and reliability improvements• Newly designed control kits reduce the labor
required for installation from approximatelyfour hours to one hour. The improvement indesign from a multi-piece kit to a pre-assem-bled kit will facilitate quick changing of con-trol patterns and at a reduced cost because oflabor savings.
• E-stick wear pad retention has been improvedwith larger bolts to ensure that the pads stayin place in the most severe applications.
• Stabilizer cylinders have an improved seal sys-tem for long, leak-free life.
• A new steering hand-metering unit provideslower steering efforts and eliminates feedbackthrough the steering system if tires impactcurbs or other objects.
• A new steering spinner knob is available as an option.• The heavy-duty axle is now standard on all-wheel-drive machines.
This axle provides wider planetary gears and bearings for moreendurance and durability.
• The front axle oscillation bearing is now grease-free for reducedmaintenance costs. Self lubricating and sealed for the life of themachine, this improvement removes all potential for leaks.
• Caterpillar Electronic Technician is standard on Power Shiftmachines. Electronic Technician allows for diagnostics and trou-bleshooting as they apply to the Power Shift system. Failures arelogged and retained up to 100 hours.
Versatile performance, proven valueWhether you dig, load, grade, trench, backfill or handle mate-
rial, you can do it better with a backhoe loader from Caterpillar.Versatility is one reason for this capability. You can easily andquickly change work tools on any Caterpillar C-Series machinewhen equipped with front and rear quick couplers. And, Cat leadsthe industry with state-of-the art design features like the excava-tor-style backhoe, load-sensing hydraulics, All Wheel Steer,integrated toolcarrier (IT) linkage and Power Shift transmission.
These machines are designed from the ground up to help youtackle more jobsite chores and extend the range of tasks that yourbackhoe loader can perform. No matter what job you’re workingon, or which Caterpillar backhoe loader you’re using, it’s built towork as hard as you do, and be more than a machine, a partner. ■
Ride control benefits include smoother ride, better material retention during load-and-carry,and increased operator comfort.
10 • ON YOUR OWN
Although Ken Palson Enterprises handles anytype of commercial excavation, the contractor’s spe-cialty is environmental projects such as gas stationtank removal and site cleanup. His equipmentworks a l l year round throughout theprovince, and as far as Thompson, 500 to thenorth, so the frozen ground is a frequent adversary.
Six years ago, the company became one of onlythree firms issued a permit to haul contaminatedsoil. Now Palson has contracts with several majoroil companies.
This year, the company became only the thirdoperation in Manitoba to receive a safety accredita-tion. Independent jobsite audits consistently foundPalson’s crews working safely and wearing hard hats,safety glasses and boots.
“Being safety conscious has gotten us into the oilcompanies,” Palson says. “We talk safety everyday.”
Integrity builds businessAnother major reason for the company’s success
is keeping its word.“If we say we’re going to be there, we’ll be there,”
Palson says. “We have good equipment that doesn’tbreak down and good operators who know how todo a variety of jobs efficiently and productively. Weprefer to hire young guys and train them to operateequipment our way.”
Ken Palson Enterprises’ equipment list includesfour backhoes, three wheel loaders, one track loader,one dozer, three excavators and five tandem axletrucks.
Almost all their earthmoving equipment isCaterpillar equipment. “We bought the first Cat426 backhoes in the province,” Palson says.“Caterpillar stuck by me when I started this busi-ness. I didn’t have anything, and they financed myfirst pieces of equipment.”
Need powerful machinesIn winter, frost goes to depths of two to three feet.
However, it’s not uncommon to encounter frozenground seven feet below the surface. Taking on jobsin these conditions requires a powerful machine.
“We like the extra power of the Cat 426C,” Palsonsays. “It gives us plenty of extra force. Operatinghammers all day long in winter is very tough onmachines, and our Cat backhoes haven’t let us down.Also, the curved boom on the C-Series gives us extra
Digging a trench in mid-winter in Winnipeg,Manitoba, can be a job so tough that it takestwo Cat 426C backhoe loaders. One machine
hammers away at two to three feet of frozen ground,while the other delicately digs around undergroundpipe and conduit.
“Working like this for 10 hours in winter is like20 hours in summer when it comes to wear and tearon a machine,” says Ken Palson, president of KenPalson Enterprises, Ltd. “In summer, we just dig.Now we’re chopping and banging; it’s like diggingin concrete all day long.”
“Necessity is . . .”The beginning of Palson’s commercial excavating
business was inauspicious, but promising. Releasedby his former employer 11 years ago, Palson enter-tained several offers from other construction firms.
“I’ve been around equipment all my life,” hesays, “and I’ve been in the industry so long I knowit inside and out. I decided it was time to go on myown.”
Palson didn’t own a machine his first year in busi-ness, opting to broker with independent contractors.“I had five to 10 machines working and made $5 anhour with each of them,” he says.
In 1988, Palson purchased his first Cat 426backhoe loader. Over the years he’s bought 11; thelatest two were C-Series machines last year.
CANADIAN ON SITE
Since frozen ground canextend to seven feetdeep, Palson says,“We like the extrapower of the Cat 426C.It gives us plenty ofextra force.”
Cat 426C takes on frozen tundra BACKHOE LOADERS POWER THROUGH FROST AND ICE X
ON YOUR OWN • 11
reach, which is important for loading trucks.”Versatility is extremely important to Palson,
because oftentimes equipment must be traileredlong distances. The backhoes use buckets rang-ing from 12 to 36 inches, as well as smooth-edgebuckets for cleanup, frost hooks, compactors,concrete breakers and custom-made snowplows.“I’ve probably got more than a dozen attach-ments,” he says.
The Cat 426Cs are specified with optional all-wheel-drive.
“In our conditions of ice and frozen ground,”Palson says, “we’d spend the entire day spinningwithout all-wheel-drive. Because of this optionwe can push material and load easily, and thatmakes these Cat backhoes all the more versatile.”
Equipment is reliableWhen Palson says he pushes equipment hard,
he’s not exaggerating. In their first 10 months ofoperation, each of the Cat 426Cs logged morethan 2,000 hours.
“In 10 years,” he says, “we’ve put more than75,000 hours on our Cat backhoe loaders andnever touched an engine or transmission. I thinkthat says something about Caterpillar machines;they’re being built right.”
“I find I get maximum trade-in value on themachines,” he says, “and I don’t take a chance onhaving a major component failure that I’d have topay for. I always add the extended service agree-ments to take care of the little things. To providegood service to my customers, I have to havedependable equipment.”
Oil analysis is partof the company’s pre-ventive maintenanceprogram.
“Oil sampling hasalerted us to somemetal particles in dif-ferentials,” Palson says.“If a machine pops an O-ring, for example,that just creates otherproblems if it goesundetected. Comparedto a major componentrepair bill of $3,000 to $4,000, what’s the cost ofoil analysis? We’ve always believed it’s easy to jus-tify its use.”
Pride in performanceKen Palson Enterprises built a reputation on its
ability to tackle specialized work and do the jobwell, even in frozen ground. This takes experi-enced operators and the right machines.
“We do a lot of jobs no one else will touchbecause of the liability,” Palson says. “We firmlybelieve the key to our success is experienced oper-ators on reliable equipment. If a man stays on onemachine, he gets to know it. If there is a strangenoise he recognizes it; he can even feel an unusualvibration in the seat.
“And don’t forget the pride factor,” he contin-ues. “Our operators treat their Cat machines likethey are their own. And why not? Those backhoesare their bread and butter. If they look after themachines and take care of them, they’re working.If equipment is broken down, they stay at home.There’s no question that one of the reasons we’rethriving as a business after 10 years is the effortwe’ve expended to acquire experienced, talentedoperators and dependable, productive Caterpillarequipment.” ■
“In 10 yearswe’ve put morethan 75,000hours on ourCat backhoesand nevertouched anengine or transmission.I think that says some-thing aboutCaterpillarmachines;they’re beingbuilt right.”
— Ken PalsonPresident,
Ken Palson Enterprises
EQUIPMENT MAN AGEMENT
12 • ON YOUR OWN
On the track or on the jobsite, winners main-tain their machines. “To expect peakperformance day in and day out, you’ve got
to take care of your equipment,” says Mark Barden,customer service manager at Caterpillar’s BuildingConstruction Products division in Clayton, NC.
Ken Clymer, veteran operator at Caterpillar’sproduct demonstration area in Peoria, IL, agrees.He says, “The old advertising slogan applies: ‘Youcan pay me now, or you can pay me later.’”
On Your Own interviewed these experts to getsome quick guidelines for a daily backhoe loaderwalkaround inspection.
Let’s beginBarden begins his walk around the machine by
looking for obvious problems such as damagedhoses or where paint has been rubbed off the hose’sprotective outer wrapping. He looks for dust onhose fittings that indicates the beginnings of a leak.
Both men pay close attention to tires. “Properinflation is important,” Clymer says, “because itcreates an equal cutting edge for the front bucket.Low inflation also increases tire wear.”
Barden judges tire pressure by placing the frontbucket flat on the ground.
“If one bucket edge is up,” he says, “I know themachine has low tire pressure on one side.”
Next, they check wheel lugnuts to ensure theyare all on and tight.
The last stop on the initial check is a cab inspection. They look for cracks or breaks in theglass and make sure doors work properly. Theycheck lights and turn signals. And they check other safety items such as steps. Are they bolted ontight, or are they bent? What is the condition ofthe grab handles?
On closer inspectionTaking a closer look at the machine, Clymer
visually inspects all mechanical joints, hoses andhose fittings and check their condition, looking foranything that might be broken, loose or leaking.They say it’s important to make a horizontal andvertical scan, not just an eye-level look.
At the front of the machine, Barden and Clymercheck for excessive wear on the cutting edge or endbits. They inspect loader pins and the linkage.With the bucket flat on the ground, they check thebolts on the cutting edge.
The daily walkaround is a good time to lookunderneath the machine for oil or other fluid leaksthat might have occurred overnight.
Time to lubeWhen the visual walkaround is completed, it’s
time to check fluid levels. To do this properly,it’s very important that the machine is parked
A daily visual inspection includes walking around the machine to ensure that:❏ Hydraulic hoses and fittings are dry❏ Electrical harnesses and connections look good❏ Mechanical joints are well lubricated❏ Tires are properly inflated and in good condition❏ Lugnuts are tight and valve stems intact❏ Steps and grab handles are clean, straight and secure❏ Work tools and GET are in good condition -- bucket tips and
pins are secure❏ Pins are in place for attachments like E-sticks and quick couplers.LOOK FOR DAMAGE AND EXCESSIVE WEAR:❏ Signs of fatigue such as cracks, chaffed or chipped surface paint❏ Signs of stress or exposure such as stressed or kinked hoses or
wiring harnesses❏ Breakage -- cracked windows or mirrors❏ Damage -- hydraulic cylinder
wear or scratchFLUID CHECKS:❏ Check engine oil cold❏ Check transmission fluid hotCHECK THE OPERATION OF:❏ Lights ❏ Parking brakeOTHER TIPS:❏ Check for concentrated dust
on hose ends❏ Check the ground under the machine after overnight parking❏ Fuel and grease at night
TAKE CARE OF YOUR PARTNER
Sharpen yourcompetitive edge
Begin your walkaroundby looking for obviousproblems such asdamaged hoses.
ON YOUR OWN • 13
on a level surface.“If the machine is not level,” Clymer says, “you
won’t get accurate readings on dipsticks or sightgauges.”
“Check the hydraulic oil sight gauge on the left sideof the machine,” Barden says. “Open the hood andcheck the rest of the fluids. Refer to the lubricationguide decal on the underside of the hood to help locatethe grease fittings. From the top step, check engine andtransmission oil, coolant and brake reservoirs.”
At this point you could give your backhoe loaderits 10-hour lubrication. You could even find yourselfdoing this more than once a day, but check the hourmeter.
Barden offers another pointer. “I like to fuel andgrease the machine at the end of the shift,” he says.“Fueling displaces moist air in the tank, and lubricantsflow better when joints and grease are warm. Also,lubrication will push any moisture out of the joints socorrosion can’t develop overnight.”
“It’s all right to lube and fuel atnight so the machine is ready to goin the morning,” Clymer says, “butstill do a walkaround inspection first thing. Something could haveleaked overnight and you wouldn’thave seen it in the evening. Exceptfor the transmission oil, it’s better tocheck fluids when the machine iscold. That way you’re sure to get thetrue fluid level. Sometimes oilsexpand when they’re hot, and youwouldn’t get a totally accurate checkat night.”
Inside the cabInside the cab, Clymer and Barden advise operators
to do their housekeeping. A clean cab is very impor-tant. Keep window areas and floors free of trash, rags,grease guns, lunch boxes and anything else. Catmachines offer plenty of storage space, both inside andout, for such items.
“Keep the floor free of debris so nothing obstructsthe accelerator,” Clymer says, “and most important,the brakes.”
So remember, whether its racing or construction,a thorough daily inspection can give you thecompetitive edge to keep you out in front. Plus, awell-maintained machine looks good and reflects wellon your business. ■
To do an accurate walkaround inspection, Mark Barden says, “It’s very important that the machine isparked on a level surface. If not, you won’t get accurate readings on dipsticks or sight gauges.”
Check wheellugnuts to makesure they are all ontight. Thebeginnings of rust may signalone is gettingloose.
Visually inspect all mechanicaljoints, hoses, hose fittings andcheck their condition.It’s importantto make a horizontal and verticalscan, not just an eye-level look.
The father and son team of John and JoeMauris likes to keep things simple. TheseAlpine, California, utility contractors stick to
the work they do best and maintain tight controlover their operation.
“Staying small is the No. 1 reason for oursuccess,” John says. “We watch all our costs likehawks and take very good care of our customers.”
John and Joe position themselves as subcontrac-tors. For them, the best way to generate repeatbusiness is to makesure general con-tractors are alwaysbusy. That meanstrenches are ready soworkers don’t standaround.
“We give ourgenerals an excellentjob at a very com-petitive price,” Johnsays. “We have goodrapport with thecontractors we work
for, and that’s the best way we know to generaterepeat business. Combine cost control and thatmakes us successful. We find well-managed opera-tions get good contracts. That’s the name of thegame.”
Modest beginningsJohn, 63, started in 1967 with one backhoe. The
business prospered, and by 1977 he needed help.Joe, 41, came on board. The pair gradually added
machines and otherequipment, includingan excavator, trackloader, motor graderand a dozer.
Today, they workthroughout San DiegoCounty, going as far asthe Imperial andCochi l la va l leys .Projects are pr i-marily commercialtrenching for plumb-ing and electrical utili-ties and some finegrading. Their most
recent job involved 35,000 feet of utility trench at theheadquarters of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet in SanDiego. Containment pipes installed undergroundwill be used to separate oil from a ship’s bilge water.
Years of experience with utility work offersmany benefits to customers. Simply put, John andJoe can easily identify problems before theyhappen, which saves contractors and customersconsiderable time and money.
“We know how to correct a potential situationbefore it becomes a major problem,” John says. “Ifthere’s a problem with the ground, we take care ofit. There are no surprises for our customers.”
John and Joe say they have the option to staysmall or get very large, up to 40 employees.
“With too many employees,” John says, “we’dbe working for them instead of ourselves. Bystaying small, we can watch every expense item andalso be selective on the jobs we do.”
14 • ON YOUR OWN
EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS
Simple formula for VERSATILE CAT 426C WITH POWER SHIFT
KEEPS CONTRACTOR PROFITABLE
At right: John (left) andJoe Mauris watch alltheir costs like hawks
and take very good careof their customers.
Below: The exceptionalmaneuverability of the All Wheel Steercapability of the 426Clets Joe work in tighter areas.
Common pitfalls facing small contractors areoverextending themselves or bidding too low. Onthe Navy project, for example, John and Joesurveyed ground conditions ahead of time toidentify potential problems. They arranged withtrucking companies to have equipment available sohauling away material would not be delayed.
“To submit an accurate bid on a job,” John says,“we have to acknowledge our limitations and makesure we have the equipment to do the work.”
Machine versatility is criticalJohn and Joe have the equipment they need to
perform efficiently on each job.“Six machines may seem like a lot of equipment
for two guys,” John says, “but when we set up at ajobsite we can do anything.”
In addition to several machines, there arenumerous attachments, including concretebreakers, compactors and pile driver.
“We have acquired a number of machines overthe years,” John says. “We have what we need to dothe kind of work we specialize in.”
Success for John and Joe is more than justadding equipment. Because they’re a smallcompany, they can’t have everything. As a result,every machine must be very versatile.
The two recently purchased a Caterpillar 426Cbackhoe loader with a Power Shift transmission.This machine is expected to dig trenches, backfill,compact and perform many other tasks. It isequipped with a backhoe Quick Coupler, sochanging attachments is fast and easy.
“The 426 is good for small and bigger jobs,”John says. “The additional reach of the 426 (onefoot compared to the 416C) is important to us. Sois some extra breakout force because we’re preparedto handle unknowns at the jobsite. We want themost production from each of our machines, andthe 426C does the trick.”
Power Shift breaks the tieJoe has always operated Caterpillar equipment,
while John was more experienced with anotherbrand. When the two decided to purchase a secondbackhoe, the Power Shift transmission was one ofthe reasons for choosing Caterpillar.
This option increases productivity and operatorcomfort because with one easy motion a singlelever controls speed and direction, as well as shift-
on-the-go under load. An additional gear wasadded between the normal working and roadingrange for smooth modulation for a total of fiveforward and three reverse gears. And, operatorshave more floor space because a twist-grip on theforward-reverse lever replaces the conventionalfloor-mounted gear shifter.
With 4th forward gear selected, the Power Shiftcontrol system can shift automatically between 4thand 5th gears to maintain road speed. Whenhigher speeds are not needed, a manual 5th gearlockout switch prevents automatic shifts. This isespecially desirable during load and carryapplications.
ON YOUR OWN • 15
The 426C was selectedfor its additional reach(one foot compared tothe 416C) and someextra breakout force.
“We were very interested inthis option,” Joe says. “We triedthe Power Shift transmission,liked it and bought the 426C.We do a lot of load and carry,mostly picking up debris andcarrying it somewhere else.Instead of having to shift andmaking a jerky transition, oreven trying to watch thetransmission, my efforts arefocused on what I’m doing —that’s what Power Shift lets medo. I just flick my wrist to shift.With other machines, I had tostop to shift. With Power Shift,I can work faster and moreefficiently and there is lessfatigue over the course of mytypical 10-hour day. The 426C with Power Shiftis just easier and smoother.”
Joe also appreciates the All Wheel Steer capa-bility available on the 426C. This option
includes: two-wheel steer for normal job con-ditions and roading; circle steer for tighter
loading cycles; and independent rearmaneuvering for crabbing to back-fillwhile driving parallel to a trench, grad-ing on a side slope with greater stabilityor negotiating the tightest turns in con-fined areas.“All Wheel Steer lets us work in tighter
areas,” he says, “and when I have to getmaterial into a ditch I can square up the
machine to get a straight bucket so the entire loadgoes into the ditch, not just a portion of it.Maneuverability is easy, so I get jobs done morequickly, which is a cost savings.”
Newer equipment paysJohn and Joe are convinced that newer, more
reliable and dependable equipment is another keyto their success.
“We try to stay with the latest equipment,”John says. “Without dependable machines wecan’t deliver the goods. We can’t afford break-downs because contractors don’t want us if wedelay them. They can’t afford to have their crewssitting around. My motto is: ‘Why run a Model Twhen I can have a new pickup?’”
The 426C is specified with an enclosed cab,rare in southern California. “We need airconditioning in the desert,” Joe says, “and we staycleaner. We have a radio to listen to news or musicso the day goes better. Plus, it seems I’m just notas tired at the end of the day. This Cat machine
has good visibility. I can see everything. It’sanother feature we really like.”
New technology and continually updatedfeatures are another reason John and Joe chooseCaterpillar machines.
“I didn’t grow up with Cat,” John says, “butmy experience tells me they have a great product.The 426C is my first Cat backhoe and I like itvery well. I just wish our other backhoe hadPower Shift and All Wheel Steer. These newfeatures are why we’ll stay with Caterpillar. Wecan work faster and do a better job.”
Serviceability is importantService sells. Chalk up yet another factor in the
Mauris’ decision to select Caterpillar.“If machines are unreliable or service from the
dealer is poor,” John says, “word gets aroundamong contractors. Service is a very, very impor-tant item, and Caterpillar is second to none. Wecan get parts anytime, even on Saturdays andSundays.
“We had a job in Escondido,” he continues,“and I needed a starter for our track loader. It wasSunday morning. I called my sales representativeand he met me at the dealership. I got the partand was back to work in just a couple of hoursinstead of days. That’s another reason why I likeCaterpillar. We like to work on our equipment onweekends, and if we can’t get parts it is a big factorin our equipment selection. Parts availability andservice are critical. We want to spend our fullweek working.”
Versatile, dependable machines, a strong workethic and taking care or their customers is theformula that adds up to success for John and JoeMauris.■
16 • ON YOUR OWN
The Caterpillar Power Shift transmission provides a single lever to control speed and direction.
All Wheel Steer (AWS).The independently-maneuvered rear axlereduces the turningdiameter by more than4 feet, giving thetightest turning circle.
The three modes ofoperation are:
(1) Two-wheel steer
(2) Circle steer
(3) Independent rearmaneuvering
ny takes the cost of each machine and determinesan hourly charge based on the time of each job.Added to this is the cost of fuel and maintenance.Labor and parts are charged individually to eachmachine.
“If we can generate more useful hours permachine,” Lorusso says, “we can bring down ourcost per hour. The more hours we can put on amachine, the less the cost of operation.”
Lorusso Corp. produces crushed stone and bitu-minous concrete. The company does municipaland state highway resurfacing and reconstructionand related site work in the eastern two-thirds ofthe state. There are 90 pieces of paving and con-struction equipment and 175 employees.
416Cs join the rosterEarlier this year, the company purchased four
Caterpillar 416C backhoe loaders. Already, twomachines have loggedmore than 500 hoursof productive opera-tion.
The addition of the416Cs was actuallybrought about byLorusso Corp.’s expe-r i ence w i th twoCate rp i l l a r IT28Integrated Toolcarriersit owns. “We reallyliked the versatility ofthese machines,” heavyequipment supervisorEd Kettell says, “sowhen the 416C wasintroduced, we knewit would be a greatmachine for us. Manyof our jobs are small
Oh, how times have changed since GerryLorusso bought his father’s constructionbusiness 18 years ago.
“It’s a difficult environment today,” says thepresident of Lorusso Corp., Plainville, Mas-sachusetts. “We used to compete against anotherfamily business. Today, our competition is amultinational corporation. It’s caused a realchange in how we compete for business.”
Paving contractors like Lorusso need to behighly organized and must operate more efficient-ly. Part of this success formula means betterequipment utilization.
“We must constantly refine our operation andbecome more efficient,” Lorusso says. “Theconcept of fewer machines using more tools thatcan do more jobs becomes very important.”
To measure productivity, an hourly cost isassigned to every piece of equipment. The compa-
Cat 416C IT versatility provides competitive edge
ON YOUR OWN • 17
Maximum machine utilization is critical to this highway contractor’s success
“The 416has powerto handleeverythingthat’sthere.”
— Ed Kettell Heavy Equipment
CAT 416C IT VERSATILITY PROVIDES COMPETITIVE EDGE
enough that the 416C can handle everythingthat’s there.”
The machines use general and multi-purposebuckets, a material-handling arm, pallet forks andbrooms; and each is equ ipped w i th theoptional Quick Coupler for fast tool changes.
“If a machine is digging,” Kettell says, “it takesonly a few minutes to put on the forks and rundown the street to grab a pallet of material from atruck. From a time and labor standpoint, thesebackhoe loaders work out great.”
Safety firstLorusso says there is another major advantage
of the 416Cs, a benefit that doesn’t necessarilyshow up on the balance sheet. Take, for example,a subdivision job requiring a lot of pipe
installation. It could take three or four workerswith slings and cables to unload and lay out thismaterial. The same job is accomplished with one416C and its operator.
“It’s much safer to use a machine that’sproperly equipped for the job,” Lorusso says, “asopposed to two laborers wrapping slings aroundpallets of pipe. Using the Caterpillar backhoes forthis task, no one is in an at-risk position with asuspended load.”
Other 416C features were important to thecompany’s purchase decision. There is improvedvisibility, increased by 40 percent due to themachine’s sloped hood, divergent lift arms andlarger windows. Plus, comfort features such as airconditioning and an ergonomically-designed seathelp reduce operator fatigue.
The nimble 416C IT usespallet forks to transporta manhole section in anew subdivision, thenquickly switches to thebackhoe to place thesection (page 17).
18 • ON YOUR OWN
ON YOUR OWN • 19
Strict PM programLorusso Corp. strictly adheres to an already
precise preventive maintenance program. Atmachine start-up, each operator is responsible forchecking fluid levels, completing a walkaroundinspection and filling out a daily report. Thecompany just started using a Caterpillar dealermaintenance program on 20 machines.
“Our Cat dealer comes out any time of the dayor night to service our machines,” Kettell says. “Inour peak season, we’re running 12 hours a day.With this program, we don’t have to havemechanics come in late or send two guys out tothe jobsite to fix a machine. Our Cat dealer evengoes to the job and takes waste oil and filters withhim so we don’t have to truck that around.”
Lorusso’s Cat dealer recently extended certainservice intervals to 500 hours, but the companycontinues to perform regular S•O•S fluidsampling every 250 hours. The contractorspecifies only genuine Cat parts and filters.
“We changed over completely to radial seal fil-ters,” Kettell says. “Because this two-stage filter actsas an air cleaner and precleaner in a single unit, iteliminates a hood-mounted precleaner. It’s a bettersystem and saves time. We used to change filtersinside compartments every winter. If there was aproblem before that, no one wanted to take thetime to pull out the old filter. With the radial sealfilters, we can change two filters in three minutes.”
Exclusively CaterpillarLooking down the list of Lorusso equipment,
it’s nearly impossible to find anything other thanCaterpillar machines. “We like to standardize onequipment,” Kettell says. “We probably wouldn’tbe so focused on Caterpillar equipment if it wasn’tfor our dealer’s high level of parts and serviceperformance. More and more highway work hasto be done at night, and machine availability iscritical to us. We simply can’t afford downtime.The maintenance program our dealer offers letsus operate without a double shift of mechanics.”
Lorusso remains focused on a machine’s totaloperating cost, which includes resale value.
“As our work shifts from period to period,” hesays, “we may find that we don’t need as manyexcavators three years from now. Maybe we needmore rubber tired machines or dozers. If we havethe comfort level that when we buy a machine wecan get a good price at resale, it makes thepurchase of that equipment much easier.” ■
“If we cangeneratemore usefulhours permachine, we canbring downour cost perhour.”
— Gerry LorussoPresident,
Excellentmaneuverability and improved visibilityhelp this 416C IToperator load and carrybroken concrete out of anarrow, sunken railroad bed to loadwaiting trucks on a busy highway up above.
Does this sound familiar? Young man graduatesfrom high school. Unsure of future but enjoysbeing around equipment. Buys backhoe
loader and starts own business. Earns a respectableliving but can’t get to the next level.
This story line is played out day after day in theconstruction industry. What makes this profilestand out is that Joe Singleton did find success on alarger scale.
Joe, 34, graduated from high school in Sumter,South Carolina, in June of 1982. He started doingyard work, bought a backhoe loader and moved onto site clearing and grading.
As jobs got bigger,Joe was forced to sub-contract grading andpaving. It didn’t takelong for problems todevelop. He would tella project’s owner thatthe paver would bethere on Wednesday.Meanwhile, the sub-contractor had nointentions of adheringto that schedule. Joereasoned that to besuccessful, he had tobe self sufficient.
Self sufficiencymeans control“Our customers only
want to make onephone call and haveone person be respon-sible for their project,”he says. “This is ourcompetitive advan-tage. When we’reready to pave, wedon’t have to wait foranyone. We get ourclients’ projects com-pleted on time. For usto be able to promise
to meet deadlines, we have to be in control of eachfacet of the job.”
Joe Singleton Co. has 26 full-time and 15subcontracted employees and 30 pieces ofequipment. Serving a 50-mile radius aroundSumter, the operation posts annual revenues of$5 million.
The contractor specializes in complete packagesof small- to medium-sized retail or office buildingprojects. This includes jobs from site clearing ordemolishing existing structures all the way toasphalt paving.
“Quality people with experience in every facet ofthe project are critical to the success of a businessthat wants to provide a total job,” Joe says. “Besidespersonnel, we need good equipment to produce theresults we’re looking for. Machines must be avail-able all the time. If equipment goes down, gettingit back up is a key issue. We need the part the nextmorning so the machine is back up and running.We don’t have the luxury of having a stable of spareequipment. Every piece we have, we need.”
Watching Caterpillar grow Joe is not a lifelong user of Caterpillar
equipment. It was only in the last two years that hepurchased a pair of 416C IT backhoe loaders.
“I watched Caterpillar come into the backhoeloader market 12 years ago,” he says, “and have seenthe product mature. Caterpillar always seemedsensitive to the end user. I was impressed by theeffort they put into eliminating areas that led todowntime. For example, they’ve done a great jobrouting hoses to make machines more productiveand available. Cat also uses beefier pins andhardware. Plus, their parts availability is fantastic.”
At present, Joe has two 416Cs with IntegratedToolcarrier linkage and hydraulic quick couplers fortheir versatility. He uses forks, buckets and astacking rake on the front end of the machine.
“Our operators can drop a bucket right from thecab and pick up forks or the stacking rake and movepipe,” he says. “We call that a key play because itsaves time and is more convenient. Jobs flow moresmoothly if attachments can be changed quickly,and work quality is better because operators aren’t
Not just your average JoeK E E N B U S I N E S S S E N S E P R O P E L S
S O U T H C A R O L I N A C O N T R A C T O R
20 • ON YOUR OWN
Singleton’s 416C ITs doa little bit of everything.The controls are sosmooth and responsivethat operators can do a variety of tasks withthe backhoe.
stressed as much. It’s little things like this that addup to the overall success of a project.”
Versatile machinesJoe’s 416C ITs do a little bit of everything.
Operators excavate with the backhoe and performload and carry tasks with the front. The rakeattachment is used for clearing small areas and alsohandles pipe. He expects to order a broomattachment soon that will circulate among crews toclean up jobsites.
“The Cat 416C is sized right for the type ofwork we do,” he says. “We like the IntegratedToolcarrier design because of its parallel lift featurefor material handling and higher lift and breakoutforces.
“We currently have six backhoe loaders,” hecontinues, “and Caterpillar ITs are the way we’ll begoing on future purchases because our options arelimitless. Instead of buying another machine, I canget an attachment that can be used among all themachines. I can justify adding work tools to myinventory, but I don’t want extra machines sittingaround. I’ve done that in the past and it’s cost me. Iwon’t do it again.”
Joe purchased the first Cat machine and severalmonths later decided he needed another backhoeloader. His operators were worried that he mightreturn to the previous brand and talked him intorenting another 416C IT.
“They really like Caterpillar’s cab design and theease of operation of the machine,” he says. “For mypart, Caterpillar machines are just built better.That’s how the second machine got here. We triedone, and when it came time to get a secondmachine my operators asked for anotherCaterpillar. They’re more powerful and they roadbetter. Plus, as far as my operators are concerned,there’s a real advantage to running a Cat machine.”
The Cat 416C ITs were purchased withCustomer Support Agreements for maintenanceand service.
“We want to focus on being the best at what wedo,” Joe says. “We don’t want to be mechanics.We’re a one-stop-shop for our customers, and that’swhat we want from our Caterpillar dealer. Theirlevel of support is better than anything we’veexperienced during our 16 years in business.”
ON YOUR OWN • 21
Hydraulicquick couplerslet operatorsdrop a bucketright from thecab and pickup forks or astacking raketo performother jobsitechores.
Pictured with foremanWillie T. McFadden,Joe Singleton (right)says, “I watchedCaterpillar come intothe backhoe loadermarket 12 years ago,and have seen theproduct mature.”
“I just liked machines”Joe says he just always liked working outside.
And, he really liked those big, yellow machines.Credit Joe’s mother for his early venture into
construction. One day she arranged for him towatch a crew construct a railroad crossing. He wasmesmerized watching the backhoes work, and bythe end of the day he was hooked.
That early fascination with equipment led tohis successful career as a site contractor.
“It was fairly obvious to me that in order togrow and become more profitable,” he says, “I hadto continually move into areas that were tougherto get into. The payoff is greater profit potentialbecause the sheer quantity of competition isdecreased. However, I also learned that the qualityof competition increases because this field requiresexperience and business acumen.”
Four steps to successJoe developed a four-step program for success.
His No. 1 priority is finding, training and keepingcompetent people. New, state-of-the-art equip-ment is step two, quality is step three andproductivity is step four.
“The office might burn down and all myequipment could be stolen,” he says, “but as longas my people are here I’m still in business. If wetend to the first two steps, the next two willnaturally follow. I’ve seen too many otheroperations that put productivity first at theexpense of human resources. This may workbriefly, but soon a contractor will be forced towork with disenchanted crews, abused equipmentand on low budget projects.”
Joe pays competitively and offers completebenefit packages including 401K retirementprogram, health insurance, two weeks paidvacation and paid holidays.
“We never send an employee home with a shortpaycheck in winter,” he says, “and we insist on asafe work environment and equipment.”
Joe says it’s important to let his people knowthey’re appreciated and that the company caresabout them.
“This doesn’t take a whole lot from me,” headds. “Just a simple word of praise, showingconcern about an injury or asking about anemployee’s family lets people know we care aboutthem, and that goes a long way.”
Joe is a firm believer in momentum.“Young companies can create a magnetism that
attracts good people and retains them because theywant to be part of something that’s successful,” heexplains. “At times, that can mean more than a fewmore dollars on a paycheck. Having the chance tobe on a winning team that has a future and you’recontributing to it means a great deal these days.”
Controlled growthCharting his company’s growth plan, Joe wants
to handle a larger volume of the same size jobs heis doing today.
“Too often contractors grow by tackling biggerand bigger jobs,” he says. “We have done this inthe past and it is very difficult. It requiresconstantly expanding our personnel and fleets andaltering our management style. In doing so, littleattention is paid to details. We are set up forcertain types of projects and are becoming moreefficient at this work. The 416C ITs, with theirmulti-task capability and ability to change worktools quickly from the cab are a good example ofattention to detail. This may only save a smallamount of time, but it adds up.”
Joe often explains his thoughts throughanalogies. This time the metaphor is car racing.
“On the NASCAR circuit,” he says, “the leaderdoesn’t usually win by a mile. Victory is measuredin car lengths or seconds. This is due to making goodoverall decisionsand fine-tuning theteam. The same istrue for businessowners. We mustpay attention toour people and beknowledgeab leabout equipment.For us to win therace, we need tomake key moves inevery way, every-day.” ■
FOUR STEPS TO SUCCESS
22 • ON YOUR OWN
A rake attachment isused for clearing, pipehandling and othertasks.
won’t do it. Our base is eight inches. What I don’twant to have happen is my name associated withthat driveway on the day it breaks up. If we can’tdo the job right, we don’t do it. That philosophyhas worked very well for us.”
J.A.M. is a full service excavating and pavingbusiness with 14 pieces of construction equip-ment, 11 dump trucks and 30 employees.
Marshall has something of a captive audienceof customers. He confines his territory to a 15-mile-long, 5-mile-wide island that includes theboating headquarters and upscale community ofNewport. To call Marshall hands-on is an under-statement.
“I touch everything,” he says. “I am involved inevery job. As good as my men are, there are alwaysdecisions that have to be made by the boss. My
John Marshall’s career spans 31 years, and theMiddletown, Rhode Island, contractor seesno reason he couldn’t remain in business
another three decades.“My longevity is based on my reputation,” the
president of J.A.M. Construction says. “I do whatI tell my customers I’ll do, and I make sure everyjob is quality work. When business gets tough,and I’ve seen that over the years, lesser contractorsfall by the wayside. For example, if a customerwants a driveway with only 2 inches of gravel, we
ON YOUR OWN • 23
Quality workkeeps RhodeIslandcontractor inbusiness for31 years.
being around actually speeds upjobs. My feeling is, if you’ve got anentire orchestra, they can’t playwithout a conductor.”
Switch to CaterpillarJ.A.M. relied on one backhoe
manufacturer for 31 years. Thecompany had a good experiencewith the product and had somehigh-hour machines. But it’s 1997,
and that make of machine is no longer available.J.A.M.’s parts inventory was rendered obsolete;and initially, that was reason enough for Marshallto switch equipment manufacturers.
“Today,” he says, “the key to machine perfor-mance is comfort, speed and production.Caterpillar has more pluses than other backhoemanufacturers, such as visibility, speed andsmoother operation. I also chose my 426C IT forits serviceability. Service access is easier than anyother machine I looked at.”
Initially, Marshall shied away from the 426CIT because of its multiple attachment features. Hedidn’t want the Caterpillar backhoe because hethought several tools were just something more towear out. That impression lasted only until hespent five hours on the machine one Saturday.
“I started on amachine 31 yearsago,” Marshallsays. “It’s therapyfor me to jumpon one; andwhenever I can, Ido it. I couldn’tbelieve how quietand comfortablethe 426C IT cabwas, and howproductive I was.This backhoeloader is respon-
sive and quick. Compared to my oldmachine, this Caterpillar 426C IT islike getting out of a compact and into aluxury car.”
Until that day, Marshall had neverexperienced attachment versatility, so hedidn’t see the value. His 426C IT usesthe backhoe quick coupler system with12- and 24-inch high capacity buckets.With its integrated toolcarrier’s frontlinkage the machine is also used extensively with the broom and multi-
With their new 426C IT,J.A.M. Construction hasdiscovered true machineversatility — fromtrenching with thebackhoe to load andcarry with their multi-purpose bucket or site clean-up with a broom.
24 • ON YOUR OWN
ON YOUR OWN • 25
capacity of a largermachine and themaneuverab i l i ty I need.”
Dealer support When Marshall
switched toCaterpi l lar, he found much moreto his liking in addi-tion to equipmentperformance.
“My Cat dealeris very easy to workwith,” he says. “Irented the 426C ITfor several monthsbefore I decided tobuy it. The termswere very reason-able, and this ishow I plan to purchase most of my newmachines.”
Service is another Caterpillar dealer advantage.“I’m a fanatic about preventive maintenance,”
Marshall says, “and my Cat dealer’s parts availabilityand service support is second to none. If a machine isdown, it’s critical to get it up and running as soon aspossible because I don’t have extra equipment.”
Looking back, does Marshall have any othertips for staying in business 31 years?
“I have good relationships with customers anddo quality work,” he says. “Long-time employeesare a tremendous asset, too. We have customerswho want a certain operator on a job. And, I try
to provide value-addedservices. We always cleanup the site and leave thejob looking good. Thiskind of reputation meanseverything.” ■
purpose bucket attachment.“Normally, a guy wouldn’t change attachments
on our older backhoes because it was too muchwork and he’d get his hands full of oil,” Marshallsays. “That’s not the case with the 426C IT.What’s more, the job gets done faster because theoperator is using the right tools. For example, oneday we’re putting in 1,800 feet of gas main, sowe’re using the 12-inch bucket. That afternoonwe’re in downtown Newport on sanitary sewerproject with a wider trench, and we can use thesame machine with a different attachment.”
Marshall plans to add a grader bucket. “There’sno end to what we can do with this machine,” he says, “and when I buy another Cat backhoe loader, the attachments I have now will be inter-changeable.”
New-found versatilityJ.A.M. never experienced such machine
versatility.“With other backhoes,” Marshall says, “we’d
try to do the job with an unsuitable attachment,or bring in another machine. It would take anoperator 30 to 45 minutes to change tools witholder machines. He might be alone, trying to lineup the pin and it’s never level. At the same time,there are laborers standing around waiting for themachine to get up and running. Today, time ismoney and we can’t afford that. I’m very happywith the versatility of the 426C IT.”
Marshall appreciates the amount of work hecan do with a smaller machine.“We do a lot of res-idential work,” he says, “and there are backyard jobswhere turning radius is very important. The 426CIT is big, but it’s small; I have the reach and
According to Marshall,“This backhoe loader isresponsive and quick.Compared to my oldmachine, this Caterpillar426C IT is like getting outof a compact and into a luxury car.”
“There’s noend to whatwe can dowith thismachine . . .”
— John Marshall
operations. Steady digging, asopposed to slashing deep to fill thebucket each time, makes you moreproductive because the cut is moreprecise the first time through.
Start digging “short” —(method #2) speed and productivi-ty, dig short of the point you wantto reach, then gradually extend thestick. Using this method, the dirt isalways coming to you instead ofrolling away. You won’t spend timecleaning up what you’ve alreadyexcavated.
Use the right stick — for dig-ging in sandy soil or clay, the C-Seriesextendible stick option is ideal. But insevere digging conditions (rocky soilor early spring ground frost) or close-crowding applications, it’s better todig with the E-stick retracted to avoiddamage.
Practice smoothness —blend the four functions of the back-hoe loader (swing and boom controlwith stick and bucket control) to cre-ate a smooth-operating machine. Fast,jerky motions can result in sloppytrenching and can even damageequipment. Slowing your movements can makeyour machine’s operation smoother and more pro-ductive.
Leave the bucket flat — when using thefront loader, many operators angle the bucket for-ward and attack the pile in a scooping action. Thiscan cause you to lose traction and maybe even theload. It is also more stressful on the drive train. It’sbetter to keep the bucket flat on the ground as youapproach the pile when loading, then lift and skimthe pile.
Operating a backhoe loader can be a stressfuljob. Often, you’re working in tight spaces.So you have to be aware of what’s going on
at both ends of the machine at all times. Seasonedoperators are able to plan their moves ahead oftime. And, they handle the controls with finesse.
The new C-Series Backhoe Loader and Inte-grated Toolcarrier from Caterpillar have several fea-tures that make these machines the easiest to oper-ate ever. These include increased forward visibility,a boost in lifting capacity, greater stabilizer spread,better operator comfort and more.
Besides enhancements, the C-Series machinesalso kept several time-proven innovations such asthe excavator-style backhoe boom (a Cat innova-tion) that digs deeper and reaches over obstaclesbetter than a straight boom, plus smooth, load-sensing, variable-flow hydraulics.
But as operator-friendly as the C-Series may be,the machine cannot “think” for itself. This part isup to you. Here are several tips from an expertoperator that may help you and your backhoeloader become an even more productive team:
Keep it clean — wipe your machine downdaily, clean the windows and pick up any debris inthe cab. By keeping the exterior clean, you can eas-ily spot any fluid leaks before they get worse andresult in downtime. Debris in the cab could getlodged in the controls and cause a problem.
Check before you dig — contact your localutility company for the location of any under-ground utilities or communication lines in the area.
Get a good stance — before you dig, makesure the backhoe loader is stable. Your stance willvary according to terrain and the application, buta rule of thumb is to set out the stabilizers and thenraise the tires no more than three inches off theground. Also, set your loader bucket on the groundfor even more stability.
Don’t grab it all — (method #1) make con-sistent 3- to 4-inch deep cuts during trenching
26 • ON YOUR OWN
Backhoe loader oper
Mike Taylor,CatDemonstrator/Instructor atEdwardsTrainingCenter nearPeoria, IL,has beenaround back-hoe loadershis entirecareer.
strength with your machine in low gear. The C-Series has 20 percent greater rimpull than the B-Series in second gear. So select the the gear thatwill provide the proper rimpull without allowingthe tires to spin out.
Finally, although the C-Series backhoe loadersfeature all wheel drive as a valuable jobsite option,it’s best to stay in rear-wheel drive as much as pos-sible especially on hard surfaces. This will save wear-and-tear on the drivetrain and tires.
Like anything else, you get better with practice.Following the above tips from an expert backhoeloader operator can help turn you into a real“smooth professional.” ■
Drag the cutting edge — in grading andleveling operations, it’s recommended that you rollthe loader bucket over, with the cutting edge to therear. Using the bucket’s top and cutting edge givesyou two leveling surfaces for better machine sta-bility and control. Also, when you backdrag, drag-ging the cutting edge minimizes gouging and theneed to grade an area a second time, as is commonwith the more traditional bucket up and angledforward position.
Let the hydraulics do the work — load-ing operations do not necessarily require brute
ON YOUR OWN • 27
ator efficiency tips
Improving backhoeloader operating techniques can boostprofits. Our dealershiphas literature and other ideas to help you increase your productivity.
AN AGREEMENT TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY AND LOWER COSTS
Every Caterpillar machine is designed and built to providemaximum productivity and operating economy throughout itsworking life. Maintaining that built-in value takes carefulplanning and ongoing attention. When you have a CustomerSupport Agreement (CSA) with our dealership, you have moretime to do what you do best. Our highly trained technicians canthen do their part to maintain your machines and drive operatingcosts down. In the end everyone’s goal is the same: getting morework done at a lower cost.