November 16, 2015

Curing Gas Pains with Deere Iron

In 1929, the Union Electric Company impounded the Osage River at Bagnell, Missouri, creating the Osage hydroelectric dam, thousands of good jobs, and a reservoir named Lake of the Ozarks with 1850 km (1,150 miles) of shoreline and 55,000 acres of buoyant Midwest recreation. As a result, America had a new vacation playground and 215 megawatts of electricity heading out of the dam to Missourians via high-voltage lines.

Flash-forward to present day and you'll find another form of energy underground in the shadows of those same power lines. JF Construction is installing some 50 miles of six-inch steel pipeline over hill and dale in tandem with the electrical lines, and even under the Lake of the Ozarks itself.

I'm just a country boy from Dewitt, Missouri," says Jim Frock, owner of JF construction. "But with the expansion of natural-gas exploration, our company has grown quite a bit in seven years, and I'm proud to say we've employed a lot of great people every place we're called to work," the list of places and energy companies JF has worked is growing by the year, and includes several miles of pipe in Arkansas and a large natural-gas project in Pennsylvania.

As specialists of installing, welding, and burying steel pipe in mountainous areas, Frock and his JF managers and operations rely on their equipment and dealer to service the machines quickly and efficiently, no matter where the job takes them. On this subject, Frock is generous with his praises for John Deere as a company but also with the performance of his Deere dealer, Murphy Tractor.

Many Deere Make for Light Work

"On this project, we're running 350G LC, 290G LC, 240D LC, 200C LC, and 200D LC Excavators; three 700J and 650J side-boom Crawler Dozers; and a pair of 850J Crawler Dozers. And between this productive equipment and the performance of our dealer in keeping everything running at 100 percent, we started this project with only one of three phases and have since been awarded all phases.

"That's what happens in this business when you keep on time and on budget—you get rewarded with more work."

But Johnson missed working outside and running equipment, so he purchased A Concrete. The decision to buy the business was fortuitous. There was a concrete shortage, but because the company had established accounts, it always had the materials it needed. "Many other companies struggled to get concrete, but because our company had been loyal to our local ready-mix supplier, they always have taken care of us."

"Our Dealer Goes Above and Beyond"

Frock also credits his excellent crew for the fast pace on the project including his son-in-law, Operations Coordinator Luke Defibaugh. "Murphy is on it 24/7," Defibaugh says. "They really seem to do whatever it takes to avoid a machine-down situation. In fact, with the size of this project and the fact we're about in the country 90 minutes away from an equipment dealer, Murphy has come up with a unique solution—a parts trailer that's parked here for the duration of the project, stocked with common wear parts. They stock it, control the inventory, and only charge us for parts we use.

"We have an onsite technician, and he has a key so he can access hoses, bucket teeth, or other common items without having to make a call of wait for parts to arrive. It's a 'very Deere' approach to keeping the machines working, and it has been helpful in keeping us on schedule."