Compact Equipment is a Perfect Fit for Digger Enterprises
The small to mid-sized contractor - perhaps more so than their larger counterparts - is forced to view every day, every purchase, every project, as a balancing act. In order to effectively compete, they must wring as much productivity as possible out of the most efficient fleet of equipment they can muster. Over-purchase and they risk having equipment that will ultimately sit idle. Under-buy and project schedules and deadlines could potentially slip. Good companies, however, know their strengths and know the equipment that will play to those strengths. In its more than 30 years in business, Digger Enterprises has learned what works best for them and, more often than not, their best solutions have been the result of the fleet of compact equipment upon which they've come to rely.
Formed in 1984, Digger Enterprises has been at times bigger, but tends to stay with less than a dozen employees, a size that Owner Danny Clegg feels is ideal both for the type of work they tackle on a regular basis and to afford him some personal "seat time."
"It's tough to put a label on the type of company we are," he says. "We're not a general contractor in the sense that we do any building construction. We do, however, focus on site prep and demolition for commercial jobs, including a good deal of work for High Point University, located here in High Point, North Carolina. They are a growing institution and, as they grow and acquire more land, those acquisitions often have older structures on them that need to be demolished. We will demolish those and do the site prep for new construction."
In the same way, he adds, as older buildings at the university need to be replaced or need to be prepped for expansion, his company will be called in for institutional demo. "The point is, we are not large enough to have a dedicated demo crew and a dedicated site prep crew - we have a single crew that does it all and depends on the equipment I provide for them to make their jobs easier, safer, and more efficient. We've had our share of all sorts of iron over the years but, within the last 10 years or so have settled on a range of Kubota compact equipment that has outperformed all the rest."
At one recent project in the High Point area, Clegg's crew could be found using a KX080-3 Compact Excavator and SVL90-2 Compact Track Loader (both from Kubota Tractor Corporation, Torrance, California) to convert a pair of roadway entrances at an assisted living facility to gated access. The company first used the excavator to remove existing asphalt from each entrance.
"The 80 was equipped with a Paladin bucket which easily slipped under the asphalt and removed it in good sized chunks," says Clegg. "Then, using the thumb of the bucket, the operator grabbed the chunks and loaded them into a waiting end-dump. With the old surface removed, the track loader was used to first clean up any smaller asphalt pieces left behind and then to spread 3/4-inch stone which would serve as the base for the new pavement. It was a smaller job, even by our standards, but those two pieces of compact equipment could not have been better suited to a project. As a result, we were in and out of there with no holdups and no surprises."
As perfect a fit as the SVL90 was on that job, Clegg says it was far removed from its usual place within the company. "I have a pair of Caterpillar 320 Excavators (C and D models) that we use for our bigger work, and we use an SVL90 in support of each of those machines. On jobs in which the Cat units are doing major earthwork, for example, we have an SVL90 - outfitted with a Spectra Laser display receiver - working alongside it trimming the site to finished grade. They compliment each other well and it's worked out great for us."
Other applications the compact track loaders can be found doing for Digger Enterprises include use in support of the company's pipe installation work.
"The SVL90s are each equipped with a hydraulic quick connect so it is easy for the operators to use a fork attachment for delivering pipe to different areas of the site, then, with a quick swap out from within the cab, switch to a bucket for backfilling and dressing up the area. They can get into so many areas that a standard loader can't and that just adds to their value for us."
Stayed With Sink
Digger Enterprises' affiliation with Kubota products - and their local dealer, Sink Farm Equipment - stretches back to 2006 when Clegg says he bought his first unit, an M7040 Tractor.
"At that time, we used it primarily for snow removal, for box scraper projects and for some rotary mowing work we did as a part of a sediment pond management service we offered," he says. "It was a great piece of equipment and dealing with Alan Davis at Sink really gave us an idea of what equipment support should be like. Hands-down, they are the most customer-oriented, service-focused dealership I have ever dealt with. So when we bought our first SVL 090, we saw how much more versatile it was, and instead of replacing the tractor, we later bought a second SVL90. That purchase, and every purchase since, has been driven by equal parts equipment satisfaction and dealer preference - we've never even thought about looking elsewhere."
Playing to Strengths
While Clegg has owned a KX161 compact excavator, he has since replaced it with the KX080, which has given Digger Enterprise the competitive edge it needs in a wide range of uses while working alongside a KX057.
"We do a good deal of backfilling for curb work and storm drain installations and the 80 has the power and versatility for both of those applications. The KX057, on the other hand, excels in tight access areas, doing silt fence work for sediment ponds and laying drainage for commercial buildings in which the access is limited. That drainage application is very labor-intensive, but someone has to get that call and we want to be the one's getting it. We have the equipment to get the job done -equipment that is far more effective than a standard backhoe could ever be."
When Clegg talks about his compact equipment, the conversation invariably returns to the role Sink Farm Equipment has played in putting all the pieces together for them. He says the dealer could very well be the poster child for service "over and above" what's expected.
"There have been several times when they have let me use - not rent, use - another machine if one of mine was down for any reason," he says. "When do you hear of that any more? There have also been times when I would drop a machine off for repair and their service manager, who lives near me, would bring it home with him and drop it off at my house saving me a trip to their shop in the morning. Any single act might not seem that big but taken collectively it is huge. Having the Kubota line and a level of support like that makes a really nice combination as we move forward."