Not surprisingly, D-Series excavators also are popular among small excavating companies. One such company is Hathaway in Fredericktown, OH, which owns a 35D and a 50D. Hathaway performs mostly light residential work, including work in basements — a tight spot for a backhoe, but no problem for a D-Series machine.
"We're able to put these excavators just about anywhere we need to dig," said owner Kim Hathaway.
Despite the compacts' smaller size, Hathaway has actually seen production increase. "They move so much dirt, it's just amazing," he said. "By the time you're done lifting the outriggers on a backhoe, a mini-excavator has already dug the next section."
Prior to entering the excavating business, the Hathaway family farmed more than 5,000 acres. "We've run Deere for years. The equipment is dependable and reliable, and you can always find the parts you need. I'm really glad we went with Deere."
Filling a niche
Gehl compact excavator success leads to fleet expansion at AAA Rentals
AAA Rentals in Redwood City, CA has been operating the past 42 years with one goal in mind: to meet the continually changing equipment rental needs of its customers by offering everything from chipping hammers to propane heaters.
Founded in 1964 by Ken Brown, AAA Rentals has carved its own niche by specializing in landscaping equipment and specialty tools. Brown recently saw an opportunity to expand the rental yard into the compact equipment sector, due to the retirement of a long-time competitor.
"People were used to coming to this side of town and being able to rent whatever they needed," says Ed Dobbs, manager at AAA Rentals. "We had two choices when they closed up shop: either step up to the plate and expand our rental offerings or lose potential market share to other local competitors."
AAA Rentals rose to the occasion and purchased a Gehl compact utility loader from WB Equipment in Livermore, CA. Seeing the market potential and success with the utility loader, management at AAA Rentals quickly realized that they were going to need to expand their compact equipment fleet.
"Warren [Hansen] at WB always let us know what was out there in the way of larger equipment," says Dobbs. "He helped us pick the right equipment that has been economically beneficial for us and provided consistent results for our clients."
AAA Rentals purchased two Model 223 compact excavators. In addition to the spacious operator compartment and ergonomic design, this model includes the industry-exclusive house leveling feature. This allows an operator to work on hills or steep slopes and level the house up to 15 degrees. Without repositioning the tracks, the excavator can dig a straight trench while on a slope.
"The house leveling feature has created a tremendous added value for the client and creates a need to return," says Warren Hansen of WB Equipment. "The operators get used to the leveling feature and can't get it elsewhere, so they return to AAA Rentals because they are the only one in the area with Gehl 223 excavators."
Consistent rentals of the excavators and a positive return on investment made further expansion of the compact equipment fleet a priority. Within the past 18 months, AAA Rentals has added a 3640E skid-steer loader, two 4640E skid-steer loaders and two CTL60 track loaders to its fleet.
In the last year and a half, AAA Rentals has added two 4640E skid-steer loaders, a 3640E skid-steer loader and two CTL70 compact track loaders to its rental fleet.
"The Gehl machines have become a steady, reliable money maker in our store," says Dobbs, adding that customers especially like the responsiveness and ease of use of the controls in the skid and track loaders. All the rental store's skid-steer loaders have "T-Bar" hands-only controls, allowing the operator to become familiar with the controls in a very short period of time.
Dobbs attributes the success of the yard to its loyal client base. "Our clientele appreciate the quick and efficient rental process and the overall AAA Rentals experience. AAA Rentals has gained the confidence and trust of our clients by having what they need when they need it and getting them in and out of the yard in a timely manner."