Down to Earth and Down to Business
Success in the site-development game is about being more efficient and cost-effective. To maintain its competitive edge, SEH, based in Finksburg, Maryland, employs the latest, greatest equipment – tools that make the company more adept at meeting ever-more-demanding schedules on tighter and tighter jobsites.
"We’re always looking for the newest, easiest solutions," says Scot Hare, president of SEH. "Smaller machines, such as the John Deere 135G Excavator, give us more versatility in tight spaces. And GPS-equipped crawlers ensure we get it right the first time. We started using them about two years ago, and now they are standard equipment on all of our jobs."
When we visited SEH at a residential site, the company was demoing a new John Deere 700K SmartGrade™ Dozer. A few weeks later, they ordered one. Unlike traditional aftermarket grade-control systems, which are prone to theft and damage, and take time to set up, Deere SmartGrade Dozers are purpose built. They features a fully integrated grade-control system that is easy to set up and run
"Because GPS is integrated, you don’t have masts that can snag tree limbs or cords hanging down that are easily damaged," says Superintendent Jason Gouge. "Setup is much faster and easier, too. We don’t have to calibrate everything every time we get in the machine. It takes a half-hour instead of several hours."
Gouge proudly claims to have converted SEH over to Deere almost 20 years ago. “My brother, who is also a superintendent, and I demoed 650J and 850J Crawlers against comparable competitor machines. The Deere machines held a steep slope, while the competitor machines slid all the way down. We bought both dozers, and we still run them today.
"We keep upgrading to newer Deere dozers. The machines keep getting more comfortable and user-friendly. And with enhancements, such as Eco mode and Total Machine Control, the performance keeps getting better and better. They’re just phenomenal grading machines – when you’re done, it looks like a golf course."
SEH has been in business for 27 years. Hare started out on his own, digging foundations for a custom-home builder in the area. "My first jobs were excavating and backfilling using a track loader," says Hare. "Eventually I wanted to get into more site-development work, so we acquired some dozers and rollers, and grew from there."
Word began to spread about SEH’s high quality of service, and the company began to take off. "We take a lot of pride in getting the job done right and on time," says Hare.
Today the company employs 115 people and provides full-service site development at commercial and residential locations around the Baltimore area and in Maryland. It runs 17 crews handling approximately 30 jobs at any given time.
The company purchased its first piece of John Deere equipment in 1998. Today it owns almost 50 Deere machines, including crawlers, excavators, wheel loaders, and articulated dump trucks. "Deere machines are incredibly durable. And once our operators get ahold of one, they don’t want to run anything else. The visibility, the comfort, the controls – Deere puts a lot of thought into everything they engineer," says Hare.
FLEET MANAGEMENT MADE SIMPLE
To manage SEH’s large fleet, Service Manager Jamey Hooper oversees a team of 13 people, including shop technicians, road mechanics, laborers, a welder, and a fabricator. Hooper has been working for SEH for nine years, first as a shop mechanic and then a field mechanic.
"Deere machines are extremely easy to service and maintain," observes Hooper. "One of the key features for me is the onboard diagnostics. The monitor provides easy-to-understand messages that really speed servicing and reduce downtime."
JDLink™ telematics help Hooper centrally manage the entire fleet. The machine-monitoring system helps minimize downtime and maximize productivity and efficiency by providing real-time alerts and utilization data. Hooper receives alerts from JDLink on his smartphone. "I can quickly dispatch one of my road technicians to a machine before something becomes a major problem."
If needed, Hooper can have the dealer establish a remote-diagnostics connection with a JDLink-enabled machine. "If it’s a software issue, they can perform the update remotely. Or if they determine a service visit is needed, they can send a technician to the jobsite with the right part the first time, avoiding the time and expense of an initial diagnostic trip."
The dealer can also set up a virtual fence that alerts SEH if an unauthorized person is trying to move the machine. And JDLink allows Hooper to monitor fuel usage, idleness, and service intervals. "Idle time is one of our worst enemies. It’s just fuel and money going up the tailpipe. JDLink helps us identify where we have issues. Plus the auto-idle and auto-shutdown features on some of our John Deere wheel loaders further prevent needless idling."
Support from local John Deere dealer JESCO helps ensure SEH machines are always up and running. JESCO calls itself "The Down-to-Earth Equipment People™," a perfect fit for the down-to-earth Hare and his company. "We’ve had a very good, long-lasting relationship with JESCO," says Hare. "They’re more of a business partner than a supplier. They’ve been very supportive – they’re always there to stand behind us and get us whatever we need."
Through the flexible Deere Ultimate Uptime program, JESCO works with SEH to determine whatever its machines need to provide more uptime. This includes standard John Deere WorkSight telematics solutions, including JDLink machine monitoring. It also includes extended warranties and any customized solutions to meet SEH's unique needs. "Ultimate Uptime gives you a lot of peace of mind," says Hooper. "Having an extended warranty ensures your costs are fixed and predictable. You don’t have to worry about getting a huge repair bill at the end of the month."
"Deere machines have always been very reliable," says Hare. "Add the excellent support we get from JESCO and Ultimate Uptime, and we get a good value for our money. Our equipment is our largest asset, so it's important that it maintains its value. We’ve been very happy with John Deere over the years."