Breaking into the construction market using only a 1967 pickup, an old skid-steer loader and a borrowed wheelbarrow may have seemed like an uphill battle to most aspiring entrepreneurs in the 1980s. To Jim Linhart, it was a challenge he was more than willing to accept.
Linhart, Owner of Omaha, Nebraska-based Linhart Construction, Inc., was not afraid to take on the rigorous tasks of operating a construction company.
"I had worked for my father for several years before starting my business, so I knew what hard work was like," Linhart says. "For the first five years, I worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, primarily building concrete and brick patios with the help of a couple full-time employees. Starting my own construction business was difficult and demanding, but it was one of the best things I could have done for myself."
Linhart's business has made quite a few changes since its inception, expanding its employees and equipment, as the business has gained notoriety. Today, Linhart owns approximately 100 pieces of construction equipment, including five Bobcat compact track loaders and a Doosan crawler excavator. The DX140LCR-5 excavator, with reduced tail swing, helps to install complex retaining wall systems for large-scale commercial, roadway and residential projects.
"The ability to use my own machines on all of my projects gives me a leg up in the construction market," he says. "I don't have to worry about whether a piece of equipment will be available to rent or the costs associated with renting. I buy the best pieces of equipment available so my crew can efficiently work on seven to eight projects at a time."
No Job Too Big or Small
At the time Linhart broke into the construction market, his specialty was centered on small-scale retaining wall projects. However, in 1989, Linhart was presented with his first large-scale project: installing 350,000 square feet of paving brick at ConAgra Foods Inc. corporate headquarters in Omaha.
"Our first large-scale project was laying paving bricks with the help of only two skid-steer loaders," Linhart recalls. "After that project, word got around about the work we were doing and our business took off from there."
Later, in 2002, the company installed 126,000 square feet of retaining walls for the State of Nebraska, as part of the Antelope Valley Project - a flood control, traffic improvement and community revitalization effort - in Lincoln. The Antelope Valley Project included removing more than 1,000 structures from the floodplain, helping to create an open waterway; repairing 12 bridges; and pouring more than 6 miles of new concrete roads. Linhart recalls that his crew removed more than 150,000 tons of sand, making it one of his company's most challenging projects.
While many metropolitan areas in the United States were struggling economically during the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009, the City of Omaha was maintaining, and even experiencing economic growth. Linhart took advantage of the economic conditions during this time by completing some of Omaha's largest construction projects, including building retaining walls and installing brick and stone as part of the 2-mile-long Dodge Street overpass project. That same year, Linhart Construction built a 28,000-square-foot retaining wall at Shadow Lake Towne Center, a shopping center in Papillion, Nebraska.
Although Linhart has completed a variety of segment walls, as well as interstate and residential street repairs, in the Omaha metropolitan area, he has not shied away from the basis of his company - completing small, residential wall projects and laying brick.
Lift. Place. Repeat.
Over the years, Linhart has developed his own hassle-free maintenance policy - buy new and trade frequently. So, in 2014, when Linhart was looking to buy a new piece of construction equipment to help complete commercial and residential retaining wall projects, he decided to give the unfamiliar Doosan brand a try.
"I've had a great relationship with my sales specialist, Dave Goodsell at Bobcat of Omaha, since he sold me my first Bobcat skid-steer loader 27 years ago. He has a genuine interest in his customers and their well-being, making it that much easier to purchase Doosan construction equipment and Bobcat compact equipment."
After Linhart demoed a Doosan DX140LCR-5 Crawler Excavator, equipped with optional two-way auxiliary hydraulics, quick coupler and a hydraulic clamp, he knew the machine would be his next equipment purchase. The excavator has just 9 inches of tail-swing overhang, making it an ideal machine when working on congested jobsites without sacrificing performance contractors expect from a traditional crawler excavator.
"I needed a machine that had a greater lifting capacity and a shorter tail swing than other competitive models, giving my operators the ability to work in more confined spaces without sacrificing performance," he says. "During the demo, I quickly realized the DX140LCR-5 would be versatile enough to install retaining walls on a variety of jobsites."
Since Linhart purchased the DX140LCR-5, the machine has played an important role in the retaining wall installation process by helping to excavate the soil around various structures including concrete, asphalt, wood, gravel and established lawns. Recently, Linhart completed a two-week retaining wall project in Granite Falls, a new housing development in Papillion, Nebraska, using the excavator.
With the machine's lift height at approximately 15 feet and lift capacity up to 10,000 pounds, Linhart's crew can easily place concrete blocks using the excavator's lift eye. In addition to lifting, Linhart made the most of a two-way dozer blade on the DX140LCR-5 to simplify backfilling and enhance the machine's stability.
"The dozer blade complements the bucket, allowing the excavator to easily fill, smooth and level trenches more efficiently," Linhart says. "The smooth cutting edge on the bucket allows my operators to clean right up to the edge of the dozer blade, reducing the need for further cleanup and maximizing their time."
Plus, the excavator's robust design allowed Linhart's crew to moderately grade the site, reducing the need for other equipment on the jobsite.
Efficient operation is key to Linhart's success, he says, which is why he equipped the DX140LCR-5 with rubber track pads instead of traditional steel track grousers for the crawler excavator. "The rubber track pads allow us to go more places, which is great in our line of business," he says. "We are able to drive across concrete and curbs when working in residential areas without damaging surfaces."
In addition to purchasing the DX140LCR-5, Linhart recently purchased five Bobcat T595 Compact Track Loaders to assist in pushing and digging applications. "The loader's compact size is perfect for working in confined spaces such as residential and congested commercial jobsites," Linhart says. "Also, its rubber tracks reduce ground disturbance for fewer repairs to established lawns."
Although starting his own construction business seemed daunting at first, Linhart says his business has flourished through his unwavering dedication to the company, buying the best fleet of equipment possible and putting his employees first. Linhart Construction, Inc. is now one of Omaha's leading providers of retaining wall systems for large-scale commercial and residential projects.
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