Next Generation Excavator Gets the Job Done for Fremar Corp.
Increased Control and Confidence: Fremar Corp. Sees Improved Efficiency with New Caterpillar 336 Next Generation Excavator
A new Caterpillar 336 Next Generation Excavator has helped Fremar Corp. of Valley Center, Kansas, improve its efficiency and precision on earth-moving projects. “This 336 excavator is one of the most balanced excavators we’ve had the opportunity to use,” says Hunter Martin, Vice President and General Superintendent of Field Operations for Fremar. “The capabilities of the excavator when it comes to control and confidence in the grade – it’s an impressive machine.”
Fremar uses the Caterpillar 336 Excavator for big cuts and other work. “Staying on the front line of technology is a big deal to us,” Hunter says. “It’s one way we set ourselves apart from the competition and helps us continually improve the way we work.” Steve Martin, Founder and President of Fremar, adds that technology has made the company more efficient and quickly pays for itself.
A Commitment to Family and Quality
Founded by Steve and Keri Martin in 1985, the company prides itself on its family roots, customer service excellence and its commitment to delivering the highest quality work on every job. Steve started with just a track hoe, excavator and a rig, digging basements on residential parcels. He soon added a loader and started back filling basements. During the next two decades, he added equipment and staff and expanded the scope of his work before transitioning entirely to commercial projects. But it has not always been easy. “We were hit hard in 2002,” Steve says. “But in 2008, we grew through the downturn in the economy. We added equipment and never stumbled.”
Fremar invested in equipment and diversified, purchasing a local sand plant, Central Sand Co., and has continued to add locations. “It was a small operation, and now it’s a big operation,” Steve recalls. “We got into recycling and crushed a lot of concrete and asphalt. With our portable crushers, we can crush the concrete on-site and put the materials back into the job. We’re leveraging technology across the board to improve efficiency and reduce costs.”
The company remains family owned and operated, performing dirt work and trucking for road, airport, and commercial projects. Both founders, husband and wife, are actively involved in the business, which now has more than 15 employees. Keri works as Secretary-Treasurer and Bookkeeper. “My wife has been a big part of the company ever since we started,” Steve says.
Their eldest son, Hunter, manages daily operations and scheduling, in addition to running the company’s excavating and earthwork division. “Hunter has taken a lot of pressure off of me,” Steve says. “We’re blessed to have a good crew who are like family. We have very little turnover.”
Twins, Breyer and Blayne Martin are both heavily involved in the company. Breyer is the Shop Foreman in charge of maintenance and repairs of the company’s equipment fleet. Blayne serves as an Estimator and Project Manager. Garrett Martin, another son, manages the Central Sand Co. plants. “The Caterpillar equipment is by far the best,” Garrett Martin said. “It’s durable, has low maintenance costs and can perform in any type of environment. We’ve had good luck with it, and the dealership helps us take care of it.”
Fremar operates in Kansas and Oklahoma and has found its niche in 200,000- to 300,000-yard jobs and specialized site work, primarily negotiated. The company specializes in commercial, industrial and civil infrastructure projects ranging from small building pads and pond excavations to complex jobs requiring a high level of technical expertise.
Current work includes a three-year project to construct a new area high school, where Fremar is completing subgrade preparation for the parking lots, and building pads. Nearby, the company is performing sitework for access roads, parking lots and a building pad for a new retail center. On another recent job, the company removed 17 inches of tarmac, crushed the material onsite and used it as select fill on a 200,000-square-foot pad on the same job.
“It’s quality over quantity,” Hunter says. “We are about doing every job right the first time.” Soon it will be the younger generation’s turn to lead. The family is a cohesive and successful team, with positive outcomes ahead.
The Next Generation CaterpillarExcavator
Fremar purchased the Caterpillar 336 Excavator from Foley Equipment of Wichita, Kansas, a Caterpillar dealership with 18 locations throughout Kansas and western Missouri. “Fremar is the first company in the territory to have a Next-Gen Excavator,” says Ryan Overstreet, with Foley Equipment. The Caterpillar 336 features built-in technology, including 2-D Grade and Slope, which can easily be upgraded to a 3-D. “Today, we run six machines that are fully GPS controlled,” Hunter says. “With these high-tech machines, we can meet any project specification. On a recent airport job, we were within a one-eighth of an inch tolerance.”
With the Caterpillar 336, “you can use the swing assist function to help limit your left and right swing along with cab avoidance proximity sensors to prevent cab damage,” Overstreet says. “Along with the safety features, the Caterpillar 336 now includes integrated built-in scales to assist in loading on-road trucks as well as three power modes: eco, smart, and power. While taking advantage of the smart mode, the hydraulic and engine power will match the real-time requirements of digging conditions.”
In comparison to previous models, Overstreet reports that the new Caterpillar 336 has 45 percent increased operator efficiency, 15 percent more fuel efficiency, and has 15 percent lower maintenance costs. The cab interior has been redesigned with an emphasis on comfort. It features automatic climate control, wide seats, wide spacing between consoles, reduced cab vibration, in-cab storage, and USB ports and Bluetooth technology for hands-free calls. Fremar and Foley Equipment have worked together on multiple projects.
“We have a great relationship with Foley,” says Steve. “When it comes to construction equipment, Foley gets us what we need.”