Family-Owned ACI Construction Evolves with the Next Generation
Making the Grade: Tough Equipment Helps ACI Construction Power Through Mountainside Project
ACI Construction of Logan, Utah, is the latest evolution of a long running family business. Dad, Sid Crookston, started pouring concrete at age 15 with his father, who also had deep roots in the construction industry. Sid Crookston’s sons, Chris and Alden Crookston, and Bronson Twitchell, re-branded dad’s business nearly three years ago. Sid Crookston is angling towards retirement and has taken a role as an equipment operator, advisor and all-around sage, while the three boys are responsible for much of the day-to-day business operations.
The company is currently working on the third phase of a 23-lot, 15-acre subdivision called Providence Hollow in Logan. The neighborhood is being constructed into the side of a foothill, which brings its challenges. The company is responsible for the roads, sewer, drain lines, retention ponds, gutters and sidewalks for the community.
“There’s a lot of rock, which is the hardest challenge, and you’re always on a hillside. All it is, is hillside,” says Crookston. “There’s nothing flat, so you’re dealing with a lot of grade changes. You may have a cut of 10 feet on one side of the road… and on the other side that’s probably 45 to 50 feet. That’s a lot of the challenge.”
In examining how to best develop the site, the company weighed a number of options. They knew that a scraper wouldn’t operate efficiently on a site with such extreme grade changes. ACI instead deployed a combination of CASE Construction Equipment’s CX250D excavator, 2050M dozer, and a haul truck to cut and move earth. The set-up typically involves the dozer pushing material to the excavator as the excavator loads out haul trucks, although both machines are used extensively on the site, from trenching with the excavator to final slope work with the dozer.
Crookston owns one of the very first CASE D Series excavators released in 2015, and has put more than 3,800 hours on it. He takes pride in the fact that his CASE ProCare expired from hours before it did in time.
CASE D Series excavators are designed to provide significant operational gains, including cycle times up to 12 percent faster, improved responsiveness and multifunctional control and up to 14 percent greater fuel efficiency.
“It digs fast. It’s never down. It’s always running hard and we work it hard,” says Crookston. “The CX250D has been a good machine. I don’t have any complaints.”
Faster cycle times are the result of a new, electronically controlled pump, a larger control valve and multiple sensors. These features combine with the CASE Intelligent Hydraulic System and its four integrated control systems to make the best use of the machine’s hydraulic power and momentum, resulting in added strength and fuel efficiency.
“I like the power it has and I like the fuel economy,” says Crookston. “We’ve had other brands and the fuel economy on this is a lot better. Fuel is a big deal nowadays. Fuel costs are high. If you cut out the fuel obviously it’s going to put more money in your pocket.”
CASE excavators also feature best-in-class cab space, excellent visibility, and a pressurized and viscous-mounted cab that keeps noise and vibration down.
“That cab’s been my favorite cab that I’ve ever ran to be quite honest,” says Crookston. “That cab’s a lot more comfortable. It sits you up, the monitor sits up higher, and it’s a lot bigger cab. It’s easy to see. If you’ve got a question, you just look in the camera. It will tell you right where you are. It’s got a lot more visibility than other machines.”
A Great Match Up
The company matches the CX250D up with the 2050M dozer, the largest dozer in the CASE Construction Equipment lineup.
When ACI Construction began the subdivision project, they were trying to level out the hillside with just the excavator. The addition of the 2050M has allowed them to move material and hit grade much more efficiently.
“We’re able to go through, rip the ground, loosen it up and it’s able to push,” says Twitchell about the 2050M dozer. “I was shocked when I got in it and climbed right up a hill over rocks. It gets us to our accomplished state a lot sooner than we could without it. It’s impressive.”
The 2050M has proven successful even through the treacherous terrain of the foothill. It delivers power and productivity through best-in-class drawbar pull, increased horsepower ratings, proven SCR engine technology, a hydrostatic drive system and an advanced load management system. The advanced load management system automatically reduces track speed with a heavier load on the blade, and increases track speed with a lighter load on the blade, ensuring the machine is working at optimal power and efficiency.
Twitchell finds the 2050M to be effective both in making the primary cuts, as well as in tackling the finer grading that comes along with giving the land its final topography.
“It’s amazing the push power on this machine. You hit a pile of dirt and it just keeps going,” he says. “We can cut feet out in hours and it takes us a long ways. Afterwards, we’ve got to go through all our cuts and slope the hillsides three-to-one. We also had a few hillsides that were two-to-one, which is pretty steep.”
ACI Construction’s 2050M features a six-way blade, and the machine allows the operator to set blade sensitivity, steering sensitivity and shuttle sensitivity to smooth, moderate or aggressive. This allows the operator to adjust machine responsiveness and controls to their preferences and ground conditions.
“A new guy on our job site could jump in and figure it out in no time,” says Twitchell. “I love the six-way blade. You could control it all in one hand, side tail, both sides, angle, forward and back, also up and down. It's easy.”
The 2050M from CASE features a cab-forward design with floor-to-ceiling glass doors to provide industry-leading visibility down to the blade. A sloped hood, and the position of the operator in the cab, provides excellent visibility to the ground in front of the machine. CASE dozers feature a sealed and pressurized cab that helps keep dust and other materials out of the operating environment. Noise is significantly reduced, helping to further reduce operator fatigue.
“The cab’s perfect,” says Twitchell. “You fit right in there. You can see all around you. You can see the guys. If you have a guy checking the grade, you can see that. If you’re on a hillside, it’s real easy to use.”
Both machines are covered under CASE ProCare – a suite of product assurances that includes a three-year Advanced CASE SiteWatch telematics subscription, a three-year/3,000-hour full-machine factory warranty, and a three-year/3,000-hour planned maintenance contract. ProCare allows business owners to invest in new equipment while helping to make owning and operating costs predictable for the first three years of lease or ownership.
ACI Construction’s local CASE dealer is Century Equipment. “Century Equipment has been really good to work with. I wouldn’t have another machine without ProCare ever again,” says Crookston. “Century Equipment takes care of us, works with us and they get problems resolved.”