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2021 Contractor of the Year: Pruss Excavation Refashions Fleet After Meeting Dual Flood Challenges

The construction lineage is deep in the Pruss family. Matt’s grandfather, Jim Sr., started Pruss Excavation in 1968. His father, also named Jim, joined him four years later, and Matt came on board in 2001.

But Matt’s start in construction goes much further back than 2001.


“I got on an excavator when I was 10 years old. When my dad told me to dig, I just kept on digging,” he says with a laugh. “Mom freaked out, but I enjoyed it.” And as he was growing up, both he and brother Scott, who now serves as superintendent with Pruss Excavation, pitched in when his father found himself shorthanded.

Matt went on to get a construction management degree, something he didn’t know was available until Freshman Day at the University of Nebraska. He had planned to go into business, but after the dean of the university’s construction management college learned his dad was a contractor, he convinced Matt to switch majors.

“We had some amazing professors who gave us real-world scenarios,” Matt says.

One example: it’s bid day and the students are estimating a project. The professor would go through the students with a handful of papers with vendor and sub quotes. “He would literally just throw them your way,” Matt recalls. “Some quotes didn’t have bonding and some didn’t include taxes, and you had figure out the good ones to develop the bid.”

Matt thought the exercise was exaggerated until he got back into the family business right after college. “It was not,” he says.

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When Matt came on board, his father’s first instinct was to put him behind the controls of a machine, because he knew exactly how much operator/machine hours translated to the bottom line.

Matt had other ideas, though. Working in what then were company offices – in the basement of his parents’ home – he started estimating and soon bidding jobs that were outside of the company’s typical work of building terraces for area farmers.

“I know Pruss Excavation grew because of my education,” he now says. “We could get into the commercial side and chase bigger work.”

So the company began to expand, eventually moving from the basement office to a separate structure on the family farm in Dodge, Nebraska, one and a half hours northwest of Omaha. 

Now Pruss Excavation logs $7 million to $10 million in annual revenues, has around 40 employees and does a variety of work, including dams and levees, roadwork grading, wetlands, landfill cell construction, site work and lagoons.

The transition from father to son was gradual as Matt took on bidding, contract management and submittals. And his brother Scott Pruss now manages several in-field duties, including serving as the firm’s quality control manager.

A turning point was a $3.4 million dam project in 2008; the company came in low by $13,000.

“It was a great job for us,” Matt recalls. Started right before the economy soured in the Great Recession, it also helped the company weather that economic storm.

Floodwaters

Pruss Excavation was to weather more storms, this time the meteorological variety. Major floods hit Nebraska in 2011 and 2019, and both changed the makeup of the company’s equipment fleet.

During the 2011 flood, Cat dealer NMC called and asked Matt if he still had the Challenger tractors with pull-behind scrapers. The company had eight at the time.

NMC was renting haul trucks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on levee repair work after the flood, and the Corps decided the trucks weren’t the right equipment for the job. It was spending too much time building roads for the trucks and not enough time hauling dirt.

Pruss soon had six Challengers with pull-behind scrapers on the job and then bought five more from a dealer in Florida. Even that wasn’t enough, and it had to rent additional machines.

“By the time that project was done, we had 70 machines running, including 23 pull-behinds along with support equipment,” Matt says. “That was our huge, giant boost. Before, we were doing around $3 million a year, and with that project, we hit more than $8 million.”

It didn’t hurt that the job had a $43-an-hour federal wage. “I had guys from all over the country wanting to work for us,” Matt says. “Finding labor was not an issue.”

Of course, high demand comes with its own challenges. Pruss’s competition was doing the same thing, and everyone was scrambling for equipment and parts.

The 2011 and 2019 Nebraska floods helped Pruss Excavation up its equipment fleet and project management skills.
The 2011 and 2019 Nebraska floods helped Pruss Excavation up its equipment fleet and project management skills.Pruss ExcavationThe 2019 flood also had an equipment fleet impact, with Pruss buying six dozers to handle the flood mitigation work. “We were going in with 40 additional people, so I was buying things up like crazy,” he says. “We had nine dozers on that site running every day.” The job also racked up machine hours. “At one time we were working 12-hour days seven days a week. My operators were making amazing money.”

Pruss also put two mechanics on the 18-month job. “I knew stuff was going to fail and what we had to do to fix it,” he says.

In assessing the levee repairs done on the project, a reviewer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ranked Pruss’s quality and scheduling as “exceptional.” The review said: “Not only was the levee repair a phenomenal effort and of exceptional quality, but the Pruss Excavation team even went out of their way to ensure that all work areas were clean and properly grade.”

The Corps took special note of how the two Pruss brothers worked together: “Matt and Scott’s combined teamwork really and truly enabled the success of this project…[they] were always synchronized in all efforts and activities and any absence by one was seamless with no disruption in performance.”

Regarding cost control, the Corps assessment added: “It was a skillful performance, and Matt’s pricing and responsiveness rivals that of much larger organizations observed over the past two years performing similar work. The best aspect of working with them is that they always construct a great product.”

Of course, the all-of-the-sudden levee repair work had to be managed with prior commitments.

“They had a very challenging project with us, and they continued to push through on our job and honor their obligations even while they were doing the levee work,” says Luke Ridder with Hawkins Construction.

Pruss Excavation jobsite huddle.
Pruss Excavation jobsite huddle.“A lot of contractors would just chase the flood work,” he adds, “but Matt stuck around, and he kept the job moving. It was a big deal. Matt knows he can’t just be an owner and pick up a paycheck. He’s very involved and he drives the ship on their modeling.”

This flood remediation experience came into play when the company bid on an emergency $1.05 million contract with a 144-hour turnaround.  The job required over 33,500 tons of materials to be imported to close a breach that was 350 feet long and over 25 fee deep with flood water still flowing through it.  “We had a pre-bid meeting at 1 p.m., they wanted bids at 4 p.m. and would sign the contract at 4:05 p.m.,” Matt says. “We were low by $11,800 and got it done early.” The project required a dozen operators and 30 trucks. 

“A week later we were low bid on another fast-track levee repair,” Matt says. “We were low by $55,000 on a $2.8 million contract with a 168- hour completion.  We successfully completed that repair on-time as well.”

Matching fleet to job demand
The company's fleet of pull-behind scrapers -- now at 32 -- has helped them tackle wet conditions.
The company’s fleet of pull-behind scrapers — now at 32 — has helped them tackle wet conditions.

“We have had more machines than people throughout the years, and we’re still that way,” Matt says. This also allows Pruss Excavation to stage an upcoming jobsite while finishing another and thus lessen time spent on mobilization.

Its fleet of pull-behind scrapers now numbers 32. “Pull-types are awesome in the wet and the sand,” Matt says, noting that the company also uses Cat 627 self-propelled scrapers in drier conditions.

Although the bulk of his fleet is in the large machine category – including dozers, excavators, articulated trucks, scrapers and scraper tractors – Matt also uses skid steers as support machines. “We’re also heavy into Topcon GPS,” he says, “and in addition to dozers, scrapers, and motor graders, we also put the excavators on grade control. We’ve found it very user friendly.”

While operators are responsible for daily greasing, Pruss uses NMC to handle PM tasks. “They’ll service my entire fleet, no matter the brand,” he says. Engine, transmission and other major repairs go to dealers.

Today’s machine telematics also help with service, he says. “When we get a warning, dealers can diagnose and know where the machine is and what they need to fix it.” 

But he’s also learned these convenient diagnostics can eat up tech time if an easy fix is not readily apparent. “I always press my dealers for warranties that cover diagnostics,” Matt says. “I don’t want to be billed for the time it takes them to figure out a problem.”

Legacy
Father Jim Pruss (left) and brother Scott Pruss (right) flank Matt Pruss at the Contractor of the Year event.
Father Jim Pruss (left) and brother Scott Pruss (right) flank Matt Pruss at the Contractor of the Year event.

Being named the 2021 Contractor of the Year has special resonance for Matt: His father, Jim Pruss Jr., was named a Contractor of the Year finalist in 2004. Both his father and brother attended the Contractor of the Year event last month and witnessed his win.

Neither is surprised he came away with the award. Matt’s clients and vendors also notice his attention to detail in how he approaches his jobs.

“He’s a heck of a businessman,” says his dealer representative Kevin Peterson with NMC. “And you can see it in the way he’s grown.”

“They know the type of leadership it takes to run a great small business,” says Ridder. “They just get it done.”

“We let our work to speak for us,” Matt says. “We want to under-promise and over perform instead of the other way around.”

Watch Matt Pruss receive the Contractor of the Year award below:

 

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2021 Equipment Rentals Up 3%, But Hang On for Big Growth Next Year

Rental equipment revenue will grow a moderate 3% over 2020 through the remainder of 2021 – but hang on in 2022.

The American Rental Association says it now expects the combined construction/industrial and general tool rental revenue to grow by almost 10% next year, reaching a record $52.4 billion. That number even tops the rental industry’s 2019 height of $50.9 billion.

The news is even brighter for the construction equipment segment, which ARA forecasts will grow 12.3% in 2022, reaching $38.7 billion. ARA says it did not include the impact of the proposed infrastructure bill now making a tortuous path through Congress  in its calculations.


American Rental AssociationJohn McClelland, ARA vice president for government affairs and chief economist, says most of the benefits of increased infrastructure spending will not occur next year since it takes time for projects to be approved and funding obligated. IHS Markit, which produces the ARA forecast, will incorporate the infrastructure spending “once we have a clear indication of final passage” of the bill, McClelland says.

IHS is monitoring the market to see to what degree inflation which has not been an issue for more than a decade is inflected in rental-rate increases.

ARA also issues a five-year projection with each forecast. It now projects rental revenues to grow 5.5% in 2023, 2.5% in 2024, and 3.3% in 2025 to reach $58.6 billion.

ARA says rental companies slashed construction equipment and general tool capital expenditures by 44.4% in 2020, dropping equipment investment to $7.64 billion. Now on the rebound, ARA predicts equipment investment will grow by 36.2% this year to $10.4 billion, followed by another 36% increase to $14.2 billion in 2022. Additionally, this investment will grow by 10.9% in 2023, 2.3% in 2024 and 3.8% in 2025 to total more than $16.6 billion, according to ARA.

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Cat 578 Forest Machine Boosts Operator Comfort, Productivity

Caterpillar upgraded its 568 Forest Machine with new features to boost productivity, comfort and safety and reduce maintenance time and cost.

With a 347-horsepower Cat 9.3B diesel engine, the 568’s electrohydraulic control system puts out 10% more swing torque and 14% more drawbar pull, which makes grabbing and moving heavy logs faster. Smart mode controls match engine output and hydraulic power to the load resulting in 5% lower fuel consumption.

The reinforced certified forestry cab structure and 1.25-inch-thick polycarbonate windshield protects you from logs and limbs that may break loose while loading. The interior of the heated and cooled cab has been increased 25%, which allows most operators to stand up without hitting their head. Cat also narrowed the cab pillars and added larger panoramic windows and a flat hood to give you 50% more visibility. For cab access, you have the option of side or rear entry. A rearview camera comes standard, and three cab riser heights are available: 22, 48 and 72 inches. For easy transport, the cab tilts with hydraulic assist.

The new electrohydraulic control system eliminates the need for a pilot filter and pilot oil. Fuel-filter change intervals have been pushed out to 1,000 hours, double the life of the previous model. And the hydraulic-oil return filter offers a 3,000-hour service life, 50% longer than the previous forest machine. The on-demand cooling fan works only when needed, and the fan reversal can be programmed to come on at different intervals to clean out debris.

If you’ve grown to like push-button start on your truck, you’ll appreciate the same option on the revamped 568. Starting can also be accomplished with Bluetooth key fob or a unique operator ID function. With the operator ID, you can program the machine to remember individual settings and attachment preferences using the 10-inch-high resolution touchscreen.

If you’ve had trouble locating attachments in the past, Cat’s PL161 Attachment Locator can help you find where you last put your work tool, even if it’s overgrown with debris or vegetation.

Given that many forestry operations are in extreme cold or hot weather, the Cat 568 boasts a cold-start capability down to minus-32 degrees Fahrenheit and in hot weather up to 126 degrees. And should your contract call for cutting trees high up in the mountains, the 568 will operate without derating at altitudes up to 9,842 feet above sea level.

Cat 568 Quick Specs>

Engine: 347 hp>Operating weight, forestry:  104,280 lbs.>Operating weight, log loader:  105,380 lbs.Max reach, forestry: 38 ft. 4-in.Max reach, log loader: 2 ft. 5 in.Drawbar pull: 84,978 lb.-ft.Swing torque: 120,222 lb.-ft.

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Snyder Wins AEMP Technician of the Year: “He’s motivated by big jobs and challenges.”

Chase Snyder of Manatee County, Florida, has been named the 2021 Technician of the Year by the Association of Equipment Management Professionals Education Foundation.

Coworkers and supervisors at Manatee County government described Snyder as always willing to tackle the big mechanical problems, having a strong work ethic and constantly looking for ways to save taxpayers’ money.

Snyder is a senior fleet technician for Manatee County’s landfill shop, where he has worked for three years.

“The bigger the job, the better. The bigger the equipment, the better,” said Tracy Brooks, maintenance operations chief for the Manatee County Fleet Department, in describing Snyder’s attitude. “Given the choice of a light-duty repair or going to a call-out on a hill for a broken down compactor, he will choose standing ankle-deep in trash sludge every single time.”

Speaking during the awards ceremony Wednesday at the AEMP EquipmentShift Conference in Savannah, Georgia, Brooks added:

“It’s in his blood and he just enjoys it. Because he enjoys his job so much, it makes him better at what he does.”


Chase Snyder, AEMP tech of the year, enjoys working on heavy equipment, like this large mower attachment.Manatee CountyThe county’s landfill shop tracks and keeps running more than 170 pieces of equipment, everything from golf carts to heavy-duty construction equipment. Snyder can fix and maintain it all, but his favorite is the yellow iron: excavators, landfill compactors, dozers and motor graders.

He’s always been fascinated by the heavy construction equipment, but the local trade school, Manatee Technical College, offered a degree in general automotive maintenance, not heavy diesel equipment. So he got his start on the automotive side in college and worked full time during the day on transit buses for a nearby municipality. After college, he landed at Manatee County.

His supervisor, David Alligood, remembers the job interview with Snyder at Manatee County. “We knew then that we had someone special,” he says.

Alligood should know. He was the 2020 AEMP Technician of the Year.

“He has a very strong work ethic,” Alligood adds. “He’s motivated by big jobs and challenges. His focus on the county’s budget and smart spending makes him an asset to our team. He is constantly self-educating.”

Coworker Christopher Brooks described Snyder as easy to get along with, smart and a talented technician. “He’s a go-getter – never says no to anything. If you ever need a hand, he’s willing to help you. He knows the equipment very well.”

Another colleague, who also worked with Snyder at the transit bus shop, says Snyder is always available to lend a guiding hand. “If I have a question, he always takes a few minutes to explain…how something works. He also keeps a great attitude, not only helping me but everyone in the shop.”

The Technician of the Year Award by the AEMP Education Foundation has been presented each year since 1989 to “the individual who exemplifies the heavy equipment profession’s best technician.” The award seeks candidates who constantly update their education, demonstrate a strong safety record, improve fleet operations and are always professional.

As this year’s winner, Snyder will receive a custom-built John Deere toolbox and merchandise and complimentary one-year membership to AEMP. He will also be the subject of an in-depth cover story on equipmentworld.com.

Deere has sponsored the award for 32 years.

 

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Loftness debuts Battle Ax H Series mulcher for skid steers, CTLs, tractors

Today’s skid steers and compact track loaders crank out lots of hydraulic horsepower, and Loftness is taking advantage of that with its new Battle Ax H Series mulching attachments.

Designed for machines with 33 to 62.9 gallons per minute and 50 to 150 hydraulic horsepower, these heavy-duty models chew up the brush with an 88-inch cutting width. The H series has a V-drive variable displacement piston motor that automatically shifts the rotor rpm from high to low for increased torque as needed. The result is less stalling and a shorter recovery time, which allows you to concentrate on the work instead of the power settings and repositioning the head.

A two-stage cutting chamber processes material thoroughly, and the primary shear bar is adjustable for controlling particle size. Other standard features include a synchronous belt drive, bearing anti-wrap protection, adjustable skid shoes and an on-board pressure gauge. Options include hydraulic or manual adjusting push bars, custom mounts and universal skid steer mounts, a hydraulic or manually adjustable tree pusher bar, and a trap door to help prevent the attachment from throwing material underneath the tractor.

The Battle Ax models feature a rotor with built-in depth gauges that function like the raker on a chain saw, preventing the cutting teeth from engaging too much material at one time. The mulchers can be used with reversible planer knives, hard-surfaced planer knives or double-edged carbide teeth. Single-bolt mounting allows the blades to be reversed or replaced on the jobsite with a hex socket and wrench.

And if you don’t have a skid steer or CTL, Loftness also introduced a new Battle Ax attachment for compact tractors. Designed for tractors with a 540 rpm PTO and 36 to 70 PTO horsepower, the PTO Battle Ax has a 61-inch cutting width and comes with a Category I hitch, but is adaptable to Category II, free-link or quick hitch.     


Loftness Battle Ax attachment for tractors with PTOs.Loftness   

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Will Construction Workers Walk? Implications of the Vaccine Mandate

Contractors with more than 100 employees are sitting in limbo as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration finalizes its guidance on vaccine mandates. OSHA sent its recommendations to the White House for review last week, and the final approval may be granted as soon as this week.

Once the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completes its review and publishes the rule in the Federal Register, the rule will go into effect.

President Biden announced the executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for employers with more than 100 employees in early September. Employees of contractors who do business with the federal government must get the vaccine; there is no option for routine testing in place of immunization.

Failure to comply will result in penalties costing $14,000 per violation. Large companies will also need to provide employees paid time off for vaccination as part of the rule. The policies will affect 100 million American workers.

Lagging Vaccination Rate

Vaccine mandates could have dire consequences for the construction industry, which is already plagued by worker shortages. Currently, 53% of the construction labor force is vaccinated, according to data from the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), a nonprofit founded by building trade unions. Forty-one percent of the construction labor force says it’s hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, CPWR says, with the top barrier being distrust of the government.

Because of the hesitancy to receive the vaccine, contractors with more than 100 employees may face the real threat of workers walking. Those reluctant to get the jab may opt to move to a smaller business that falls outside of the mandate.

Industry Groups Respond

Construction workers were among the first groups eligible to receive the vaccine, and industry associations have encouraged voluntary COVID-19 vaccination for their members and employees from the start. The Associated General Contractors of America and Associated Builders and Contractors say a mandate could put a strain on the industry, as well as the country’s infrastructure needs.

“Many of the challenges affecting contractors are being driven by the pandemic and policy responses to it, instead of typical market conditions,” said Stephen Sandherr, AGC chief executive officer,. “This federal contractor vaccination mandate could further exacerbate the industry’s workforce and significantly increases federal project costs and delays to the detriment of meeting vast federal government infrastructure needs.”

Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs, echoed that sentiment, stating, “This guidance will result in additional compliance burdens, exacerbate the construction industry’s skilled- workforce shortage and increase costs for federal contractors and taxpayers. ABC is philosophically opposed to federal mandates that undermine the desired policy outcome.”

Conflicting requirements at the state level add to the confusion, with several governors announcing they will ban the vaccine mandate. 

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PCL Civil Constructors Cited After N.C. Bridge Worker’s Death

The investigation into a worker’s death on a bridge demolition project at the Outer Banks of North Carolina has resulted in a proposed penalty of $23,210 for the contractor.

PCL Civil Constructors, based in Tampa, Florida, overloaded bridge sections, exposed workers to struck-by hazards and failed to use engineering surveys or calculations to prevent collapse, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  

Jose Armando Maqueda Mejia, 42, of Manns Harbor, North Carolina, died April 14 after he fell more than 50 feet into the Oregon Inlet when a remaining section of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge bridge collapsed. The bridge was built in 1963 and was being demolished piecemeal after the new Marc Basnight Bridge opened in 2019 as its replacement.

Mejia, a welder, was cutting crossbeams on top of a bridge section where concrete had been discarded, OSHA says. The weight of the concrete caused the section’s collapse and Mejia’s fall, the agency reports.

According to the OSHA citation, PCL used “different demolition sequences, and developed its own plan, without performing any engineering surveys and calculations to determine the adequacy of the structure and the potential for unplanned collapse of any portion of the structure during demolition.” It added that workers “were exposed to struck-by hazards.”

The citation also said the structural members of the bridge’s last two spans “were overloaded beyond their load-carrying capacities.”

The two violations are deemed “serious” by OSHA, which means a hazard exists that could cause an accident that would most likely result in death or serious harm.

“PCL Civil Constructors violated federal safety standards and a worker needlessly died as a result,” said OSHA Area Director Kimberley Morton in Raleigh. “If they had followed well-known standards, this tragic loss of life could have been prevented.”

PCL won the $252 million contract to build the 2.8-mile Marc Basnight Bridge to and from Hatteras Island and to demolish the Bonner Bridge.

A PCL spokesperson said the citation is under review, and its policy is not to comment while it is still pending.

The company can request an informal conference with OSHA within 15 working days to contest the proposed penalty.

 

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The Importance of Having an Emergency Towing Arrangement

Emergency towing is basically when a car is towed temporarily to an auto repair shop, car repair place, or some other convenient location for safekeeping until an authorized driver or owner can come out on-site to take care of the vehicle. Road accidents do occur, and they happen more often than you probably think. There is an estimated six thousand road accident-related fatalities each year. Therefore, there are several reasons why it is essential to call Azteca Towingtruck company if you have a flat tire or if you need a tire change.towing

There are three standard emergency towing procedures. First, the tow truck will call 911 right away. The crew must then assess whether the vehicle can be towed without damaging the car or other property. If the damage is not too severe, the tow truck will file an emergency report with the local police. Next, the tow truck will inform the vessel’s master and the insurance company.

For larger vehicles, such as passenger cars, vans, or SUVs, the master will direct them to the nearest emergency towing service. Depending on how long the vehicle has been stranded on the road, the vehicle may need emergency towing services for at least twenty-four hours. Vehicles may need emergency towing service even longer if their batteries have failed and the engine has run out of gas.

The crew will also check for mechanical problems that could be the cause of the flat tire. It is important to note that emergency towing means different things to different people. For some people, it means only being able to safely get the vehicle to a nearby location. Other people may use emergency towing means to seek medical assistance during a roadside emergency. It is also possible for emergency towing services to provide emergency medical services in some circumstances.

In some cases, the tow truck driver may choose to call for an additional tow truck just to have two in the fleet. In order to make an emergency towing arrangement, the master of the vehicle and the second tow truck driver must meet. The agreement must include specific time limits so both will agree on the best time to make the pick-up gear changes. The time limits are usually thirty minutes to one hour.

There are a few requirements for this type of towing service. The first requirement is that a properly functioning emergency towing system is in place. Emergency towing requires a working engine, battery, alternator, spare tire, and sufficient fuel for the entire duration of the tow. Furthermore, a properly functioning tow rope is required. In the event of a flat, a tow rope that is attached to the rear bumper on a powerboat is recommended.

The second requirement is that the boat’s transom and bow area must be clear of obstructions. A strong point in the bows area is used as an anchor when a trailer is being used as well as when making the turn into the lake. This strong point, also called a tacking point, allows the tug to turn safely and not hit anything. Additionally, the tacking point ensures that the vessel will be balanced when it makes the turn. When the tow rope is attached to the second tow truck, this point is also used as an anchor.

In some situations, towing arrangements must be made when there is no strong point in the area that the vessel would use for an anchor. In these situations, the tug must make the best judgment call in order to make sure the right course of action is taken. In these situations, a professional technician must review the vessel and make any necessary adjustments. A professional technician is also capable of making alternative towing arrangements if another option is warranted. When there is no strong point in the area, there are many different types of towing equipment available. These options can include, but are not limited to, ski gear, ski lift, and a skipper.

Curry Supply Offers Keystone Service Bodies to Fit Contractors’ Sweet Spot

Curry Supply is introducing a new line of service truck bodies: Keystone and Keystone Pro. The Pro version features a crane body, and both models are built using light-weight, high-strength aluminum.

The crane tower on the Keystone Pro can handle up to a 25,000-foot-pound crane, while still providing compartment space for tool and equipment storage. Custom features and upgrades will be available on both Keystone builds, with work-ready stock trucks ready to ship nationwide beginning in the fourth quarter of 2021. Options include tool drawers and bolt bins, e-track, lube equipment, welder/generators, air compressors and multiple crane models.

Keystone bodies feature a 52-inch-wide and 129-inch-deep bed, with tie-down rings and a textured, slip-resistant floor for added safety. Each side features four compartments, three vertical and one horizontal, with at least 20 inches of depth and adjustable shelving. Protected door seals and stainless-steel rotary latches ensure compartments stay secure and watertight.

“Curry Supply’s introduction of the Keystone line of service bodies will fill a void in the mobile service truck market that we have experienced for quite some time,” says Jeff Shaw, company vice president of sales and marketing.

“Service trucks typically fall on the polar ends of both price and durability. You either have a robust, heavy-duty offering with tons of added content, or a light-duty offering that struggles to keep up in severe-duty environments and doesn’t accept application-specific modifications well. To find the middle ground, buyers are typically left to add light-duty options to an over-built body, or “heavier” options to a body that wasn’t designed to handle it.”

The objective at Keystone was to design a product optimized to hold up well in severe-duty environments and accept application-specific modifications at a lower price than most heavy-duty products, says Shaw. This resulted in features such as reinforced side packs with mounting rails to handle heavier accessories, robust doors, hinges, and weatherproofing.

“All of these address the common complaints contractors voice about light-duty service bodies,” says Shaw. “We reduced content by making crane reinforcement optional, and even still, we only engineered the reinforcements to some of the lighter duty electric/hydraulic cranes common to the applications this product was intended.” 

The Keystone and Keystone Pro will be positioned alongside Curry Supply’s current offerings of Stellar, Autocrane, Reading, and Wilcox bodies.

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Nimble & Productive: Bobcat’s New L65 and L85 Compact Wheel Loaders

Compact wheel loaders continue to grow in popularity as contractors discover their many attributes: how they can dump higher, travel faster and turn tighter than skid steers and compact track loaders. And did we mention they do all this with a smaller engine and great fuel economy?

Bobcat’s latest entries into the compact wheel loader field include the L65 and L85 with standard bucket capacities of up to 1 cubic yard and a Z-bar front linkage. In addition to buckets and pallet forks, the new loaders hook up to a wide range of Bobcat tools and attachments using the powered Bob-Tach system.

The new loaders run on a redesigned Tier 4 Final Bobcat engine with improved cold-weather starting capability and components simplified for routine maintenance. The 2.4-liter turbocharged diesel engines put out 55 and 68 horsepower on the L65 and L85, respectively. The attachment control mode enables you to vary the engine and travel speeds separately to optimize auxiliary hydraulic performance.


Bobcat L85 compact wheel loaderDoosan BobcatA large fuel filter protects the engine from contamination and results in a longer filter life and increased holding capacity. The lift pump and self-priming fuel system offers continuous forced air outflow and eliminates the need for a primer bulb. And a pre-filter protects the lift pump from debris and particles that increase wear and degrade performance.

Articulated steering on the new L65 and L85 loaders delivers high maneuverability and a tight turning radius. The electronic hydrostatic transmission (E-HST) makes quick forward-reverse direction changes efficiently, increasing acceleration and delivering seamless speed control. The combination of the E-HST transmission and horsepower management automatically adjusts the loaders’ drive system to maximize pushing and loading power while minimizing the chance of stalling. Unlike other anti-stall systems, operators can maximize engine and drive torque on the L65 and L85 to match the demands of heavy lifting and digging.

Standard features include two-speed travel, differential lock, inching pedal, LED work lights, bucket level indicator and a 5-inch display with jog shuttle. Upgrade options include an attachment control device (seven pin connector), automatic ride control, enclosed cab with HVAC, rearview camera and a cloth suspension seat.

Quick Specs

Bobcat L65>

• Rated Operating Capacity with Bucket (Straight) 3,133 lb.

• Rated Operating Capacity with Bucket (Articulated) 2,618 lb.

• Rated Operating Capacity with Forks (Straight) 3,759 lb.

• Rated Operating Capacity with Forks (Articulated) 3,172 lb.

• Operating Weight 9,944 lb.

• Auxiliary Std Flow 19.8 gpm

Bobcat L85 >

• Rated Operating Capacity with Bucket (Straight) 3,974 lb.

• Rated Operating Capacity with Bucket (Articulated) 3,257 lb.

• Rated Operating Capacity with Forks (Straight) 4,786 lb.

• Rated Operating Capacity with Forks (Articulated) 3,977 lb.

• Operating Weight 11,164 lb.

• Auxiliary High Flow 27.34 gpm