Not the case for New Brighton, MN-based Belair Excavating. Founded by Henry Murlowski in 1953, the company began as Belair Builders, a residential contracting company. Today, under the operation of sons Mark and Michael, Belair considers improvements in safety, organization, production, and customer satisfaction part of their corporate mission. Substantial growth and additional offices in Batavia, IL, Henderson, CO, and Naples, FL, has not changed the company’s philosophy, one built on a strong commitment of service, extending to each employee and every jobsite, even when under the pressure of extreme deadlines.
|“We’ve found that no other dealer comes close when it comes to product support. Ziegler is very well organized with their support," Cannon says. "Belair’s owners’ philosophy is that we aren’t a repair facility. “We rely on our dealers. For budgeting, it’s to our advantage to plan our maintenance.”
Project Deadline Gives New Meaning to “Beating the Holiday Rush”
Specializing in integrated sitework services, including demolition, site development, environmental remediation, utilities, and more, the company works on projects ranging from residential housing complexes to large-scale commercial work.
Most, if not all development projects require adherence to deadlines – falling behind schedule can increase budgets and penalize your bottom line. Perhaps more damaging, a track record of missed deadlines or delayed completions can create a reputation that could lose a business future projects.
Working on a development for the sixth-largest United States retailer, Minneapolis-based Target Corporation ups the deadline ante to a whole new level.
“Target® only opens new stores on two dates each year to maximize time during the major selling season,” Belair dispatcher, Craig Erickson says. “When we start a Target job, we know exactly when they will be opening it – it’s a very deadline driven project.”
Belair crews may begin work on a SuperTarget site with the demolition of an existing Target store before moving to the excavation work. Meeting timelines for the first two phases of development are arguably the most critical to completing a project on time. Erickson acknowledges deadline-drive jobs like the SuperTarget development often require working longer hours or putting more equipment on the job. With tight deadlines, machine productivity is paramount.
Machine Selection: Demolition Conditions Require Performance, Deadlines Demand Productivity
Focusing primarily on earthmoving, Belair owns a fleet of equipment ranging from several large Cat® backhoes and excavators, to compaction equipment, and revolutionary GPS technology for precise grading. The company also relies heavily on four Cat compact loaders – three Cat 236B skid steer loaders and a Cat 252B skid steer with aftermarket tracks – on nearly every jobsite.
“Anything that needs to be done, the skid steer loaders are involved with it,” Erickson says. “We use them in a variety of conditions – mud, sand, concrete; our dedicated demolition machines are running through rebar.”
Tough conditions demand tough machines that perform. That’s why Belair relies on an evaluation process when selecting the best machines for the Belair fleet, critically comparing machines and dealers in three areas: productivity, product support, and price.
Prior to the introduction of Cat skid steers in 1999, Belair owned another make of skid steer. But after evaluating the Cat skid steer side-by-side with the other machine, Belair switched to an all Cat lineup.
“Obviously, Cat equipment meets our productivity requirements,” fleet maintenance manager Bill Cannon says. “We run our skid steers for 3000-4000 hours before we trade – that’s about three years. With the other makes, the longevity wasn’t there. And, we knew when we switched that Ziegler product support would be a notch up if a repair was necessary.”
Staying Steps Ahead: Better Machine History Records Reduce Unplanned Downtime
Belair most recently completed the Fridley, MN, SuperTarget. The company will work on another SuperTarget project in 2007. With little tolerance for schedule delays, staying a few steps ahead of the deadline requires careful planning. Yet, unexpected machine downtime can bring the best plans to a screeching halt. Belair relies on detailed maintenance and service records to better understand service needs and plan when to take equipment out of production.
“Keeping detailed maintenance and service records is important to the prevention of downtime,” Cannon says. “Having that history helps us make better business decisions.”
With machines operating at several Belair job sites, keeping current, accurate records becomes difficult. Inability to record machine statistics leads to missed maintenance, poor use of assets and wasted time. Belair relies on Cat Product Link, installed on many of their large pieces of equipment, to help manage record keeping. Product Link provides two-way information flow between machine on-board systems and web-based data accessible on the Ziegler Web site, www.zieglercat.com, from any desktop computer.
“We’ve found that no other dealer comes close when it comes to product support. Ziegler is very well organized with their support,” Cannon says. “Belair’s owners’ philosophy is that we aren’t a repair facility,” Cannon says. “We rely on our dealers. For budgeting, it’s to our advantage to plan our maintenance,” Cannon says.
Ed Johnson, Belair shop foreman continues, “Ziegler is there for us; there’s field service and extended shop hours – no other dealer offers that. Ziegler is someone we can depend on,” Johnson says. “Basically, they’re always there when we need them. And the rental selection is the best in town.”
Skid Steer Loader Product Information