Although most contractors realize they can increase utilization of compact equipment by using attachments, there are those who have turned it into almost an art. Such contractors have managed to take a small fleet of carriers and convert them into multipurpose workhorses capable of taking on most any task a project owner or general contractor can dish out.
This strategy is proving especially effective as the construction economy slows in certain market areas. Consider Egnoski Excavating & Construction, Whitewater, WI. Tom Egnoski and his son perform a variety of trenching, digging, landscaping, demolition and other work for both residential and commercial clients. The fleet includes two Caterpillar 247 multi terrain loaders and two IHI compact excavators (Models 20JX and 40JX).
?Back a couple years ago, when we saw the recession coming, we were wondering what would happen,? Egnoski says. ?So we keyed in on every job no big contractor would want to take. We went out and talked to general contractors, electricians, plumbers.?
Thanks to a sizable collection of attachments, Egnoski Excavating & Construction has been able to take on numerous smaller jobs for these contractors on a subcontract basis. The result has been the company?s busiest year ever. ?I?ve never seen anything like it in 30+ years in the trades,? Egnoski asserts.
?I think [the attachments] doubled my business, because it?s basically just that much more versatile,? he says. ?I can offer something that most people don?t have.?
Adaptability brings in more work
Perhaps no one has done a more thorough job of using attachments to their advantage than Dee Willingham, owner/president of AAA Grinding and Trenching, Ventura, CA. He estimates he has as many as 35 different attachments for his two Caterpillar 287 multi terrain loaders, and he?s not afraid to add more, if needed, to get the job. ?A call could come in tomorrow and I would go out and buy one,? he says.
This mind set has enabled Willingham to rapidly expand his business. Although it specializes in road repair and asphalt prep for parking lots using Coneqtec/Universal cold planer attachments, AAA Grinding and Trenching is able to take on most any task that can be done with a compact machine. Willingham has equipped the loaders with asphalt rock saws to perform sawing for pipeline companies; trenchers for installing conduit between landing lights at airports; augers for a variety of drilling work, including 36,000 fence holes along the Coachella Canal in Southern California; and brush buckets for clearing debris in confined areas, such as freeway medians.
The attachment arsenal also includes dozer blades, 4-in-1 buckets, barrel grabs, breakers, brooms and even a berm grinder that Willingham invented. The berm grinder came about when a guard rail company hired him to come up with a solution for removing old berm. ?They said, ?We?ve got about 85 miles of berm right now that we need to take off, and here?s $10,000 to make it,?? Willingham recalls. Now, in addition to using it in his own operation, the berm grinder is being marketed and sold to other contractors through Coneqtec/Universal.
Bill Broach, owner of Bill Broach Co., Blythewood, SC, is also ready to add attachments as needed. ?Usually, when I get a big job that will actually pay for the attachment, I?ll go ahead and buy it,? he says.
Bill Broach Co. focuses on smaller trenching projects and concrete slab removal inside buildings. In addition to various types and sizes of buckets, breakers and augers are commonly mounted on the company?s two Bobcat skid steers and two Bobcat compact excavators.
Size limits/requirements on a project often play a role when purchasing new attachments. ?On our Bobcats, we?ll use the biggest bucket we can because it carries the best payload out the door. But if it can?t fit through the door, you have to buy a bucket that will fit,? Broach points out. ?Six months ago, we did [a job] where we had to have a 30-in. trench... so I went ahead and bought a 30-in. bucket. When it requires it, we?ll get it.?