December 08, 2015

Rugged People and Tough Equipment: One Father, Two Sons in Tucson

It isn't every day we speak with a contractor who started out in 1971, let alone one whose first backhoe was a used John Deere 2020 Tractor—produced at Dubuque Works between 1960 and 1965—mated with a Deere 93A Backhoe attachment. But that's just what we were looking at when we met Bucky Strunk. Owner of Tucson's R W Strunk Excavating, and his sons, Shiloh and Shane. Today, his company specializes in excavating for fiber-optic lines and other utilities. But in the early days, Strunk, like most new contractors, learned the business on any job he could bid on.

"Forty years ago, I was fresh out of the service where I worked as a jet-engine mechanic working on F-1005. I scraped up enough to buy a Ford Ferguson Ag tractor, the last non-Deere machine we've owned. In 1973, Deere gave me a chance by financing their first backhoe model—the JD330. That machine set my preference for this equipment. The boom never broke on the 310 like other backhoes of the day, and as a mechanic, I appreciated its rugged build and easy maintenance. I've owned over 50 Deere machines and many of them 15,000 hours or more."

Grading with Shane

"I really enjoy operating the 770D Motor Grader," says Shane Strunk. The glass goes from floor to ceiling so you have great visibility. I like having the choice between a steering wheel and control levers—I prefer the levers when I'm grading and the wheel when I'm roading the machine. Most other machines on the market just have the levers, but Deere gives you both so you always have the choice to switch from one to the other."

Of course, like his dad and brother Shiloh, this Strunk has always preferred John Deere iron. "I was operating a 310C Backhoe for my dad back when I was in high school, and every day I run newer Deere machines like this John Deere 770D and our 624J Loader."

Work Hard, Play Hard. Together

When the Strunks aren't blading or digging up the desert with their Deere, they're racing across it in the famous Baja 500 in Baja, California. Every year Bucky Strunk Racing runs their quad ATVs in the grueling race across 500 miles of desert, and everyone—from the thirty-something Shane and Shiloh to the fifty-something Bucky—crosses the finish line no worse for the wear.

Whether they're breaking through rock-hard Caliche dirt or racing through the Baja Peninsula under the desert sun, R W Strunk knows tough. And their machine of choice for over 40 years has been John Deere.