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Going Pro a Boom for Excavation Business

  • Published Fri Dec 12, 2014

South Dakota homebuilder takes control of residential excavation and grows business.

Professional Excavating (owner: Daene Boomsma) has grown quickly – almost tripling in business each year. To handle that growth, the company doubled its fleet from one 16-ton excavator to two. Thanks to fuel savings, the support of the local dealer, and an ambitious maintenance, telematics and warranty package offered by the manufacturer (CASE ProCare), he’s been able to grow the business with minimal impact to his bottom line.

“During my five slowest months – we made half the payment on fuel savings alone,” says Boomsma. “It was the difference between my operators running a 10-year-old machine or a brand new machine. When I can do that and not cost myself any more because of fuel savings – now I’ve got happier operators and an image that says ‘we care about our equipment and we buy good equipment.’ [And] it’s not costing me anything because of the fuel savings.”

Size, Fuel Savings Drive Choice

Boomsma specified a machine in the 16-ton size class because it’s easy to haul in and out of residential areas, and it could be outfitted with larger buckets for greater productivity. “He does a lot of residential work, and you don’t want to be bringing a lowboy in and out of some of these [residential areas],” says Marcus Lavake, complex manager, Titan Machinery. “But you still need the biggest machine to move the amount of dirt that is required.”

“We can get in and out a lot quicker than other contractors because we have equipment just big enough that we can do the work twice as fast, but just small enough that we can still fit in all of our sites,” says Boomsma.

Initially, he only intended on adding one new machine to his fleet to complement the 16-ton excavator he already owned. But a head-to-head analysis of his machine convinced him to trade it in and add two new CASE CX160Cs.

“We discovered that, depending on the use and what we were doing at the time, we were going to save between 2 and 5 gallons an hour with the CASE CX160C versus the 160 that I owned,” says Boomsma.

Using the conservative end of that range (2 gallons per hour) and average diesel prices in South Dakota on Nov. 4, 2014 ($3.43 per gallon), Boomsma can save about $343 per week on one excavator and $686 per week on two . Over the course of one month, savings can be as much as $2,744. With fuel savings in some applications ranging up to 5 gallons per hour – and diesel fuel fluctuating above $4/gallon – the actual savings could be significantly higher. Annual savings start at just under $33,000.

“The fuel savings alone made half of my payments that I had on my two machines,” says Boomsma. “[And that doesn’t take] into account any production [advances].” “At the end of the day, he’s actually spending less money on better equipment,” says Lavake. “We were able to double his fleet, double his capacity and reduce his expense.”

Increasing Uptime and Making Total Cost of Ownership Predictable

Fuel savings is only a part of the equation for Professional Excavating. Titan Machinery and CASE were able to make owning and operating costs for the first three years of ownership predictable through CASE ProCare. ProCare includes a three-year Advanced CASE SiteWatch subscription, a three-year/3,000-hour full-machine factory warranty and a three-year/3,000-hour planned maintenance contract.

That combination – warranty, planned maintenance contract and telematics – fully protects Boomsma from unexpected owning and operating costs. It also helps boost his return on investment. CASE estimates that the maintenance/service-related cost savings for those first three years of ownership with ProCare is $9,540 per machine, $19,080 for two. ProCare also creates a new level of customer service from his equipment dealer, who monitors the machines’ telematics feeds and schedules service at times that won’t slow work down.

“I literally do nothing besides grease and fuel the machines for the first three years,” says Boomsma. “When the service manager is calling us at 250 hours [for a fuel filter change] and he’s going to do it after hours – I have no downtime, I have no maintenance cost.”

“A company of my size, when we are running as hard as we do all the time, I can’t have downtime. It screws up the schedule, and that’s one of the advantages of why people hire me – they know I’m going to be there when I say I’m going to be there. I can’t do that with equipment failures.”

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