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Mini Excavator Powers Homebuilder’s Utility Crew

CX57C Cuts Through Hard Tennessee Clay

S&E Properties relies on the CASE CX57C mini excavator to cut through hard, compacted red clay as it installs utility lines on its residential developments around Knoxville, Tennessee. The CX57C provided the right combination of size, power and speed for the work.

S&E Properties has been in the single-family residential development business for more than 20 years.

In that time the company has successfully developed 16 neighborhoods with more than 1,000 lots in the greater Knoxville, Tennessee area — and those numbers continue to grow. Owner Scott Smith attributes the company’s success to his team’s ability to provide added value to homebuyers by doing the majority of their own site utility work.

“We typically hire a grading contractor that moves the mass dirt, and my crew—which we've had for about 20 years—we do pipe work,” Smith explains. “We do sewer lines, water lines, electrical conduit, storm drainage, anything with a pipe. And so our crew comes in and we pretty much do this for ourselves, because we're fast and we can provide home sites at a much cheaper rate than we could hire it to be done.”

This practice helps keep costs manageable, allows them to work at their own pace and allows the crew to make adjustments in the field.

“The guys that we have working on our crew here, we have about a 10-man crew that does our pipe work. And these guys, utility companies tell me that my crew is some of the best people they deal with in town. I feel like we have a very good reputation and that is 100 percent due to our employees.”

His crew is currently working on "The Glen at West Valley”, a new single-family residential development of semi-custom, all brick homes.

In order to dig through Tennessee’s famously hard red clay (especially when packed down by construction traffic) and keep his projects on schedule, Smith needed a machine with both power and digging depth. The solution: a CASE CX57C mini excavator.

The 66.9 horsepower CX57C stands out among the CASE C Series line of compact excavators due to its more “conventional” tail design along with a relatively large counterweight—this provides a significant amount of power and stability for a machine of its size. It features 9,550 lbf of digging force and digging depths of up to 13 feet 4 inches (depending on arm configuration). It also comes standard with a hydraulically powered backfill blade that assists both in machine stability during excavation as well as simplified backfilling when needed.

For digging utility lines, Scott outfits the CX57C with a narrow trenching bucket. This provides a slimmer trench that requires less backfill, allows for a more stable trench, improves productivity and provides additional downstream cost savings/efficiencies — essentially removing as little material as required to install the utility lines.

The power of the CX57C cuts through the compacted red clay with ease. “It's just fast,” Smith says. “When we have to backfill with stone, we don't spend a ton of money... We've got a narrow bucket, we've got a strong machine and it just allows us to go a lot quicker.”

S&E Properties works with Contractor’s Machinery of Knoxville for all of its equipment needs. “I've had a great experience with all the guys at Contractor's Machinery, Smith says. “The only machines we've bought from these guys were CASE machines, and we've been really happy with them. The service they provide is excellent. If we have a problem, they bring us a machine. They get us taken care of.”

S&E Properties’ highly experienced crew is the true core of the operation, but the added support from a trusted dealer allows them to continue to work at their own quick pace and keep their projects moving forward. “Just being responsive, we can't afford to have somebody that doesn't pay attention to us after we buy something,” Smith says. “I've been happy with them.”

“I just don't think of it. I don't have a problem,” he concludes. “And if I don't have a problem, that's a good thing.”

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