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California Dreaming: Wheel Loader Builds Luxury Homes

Construction isn't the first thing you think of when in Manhattan Beach, but when you do, you think of Casner Construction.

Wed June 11, 2014 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Manhattan Beach, Calif., is a prime location for those looking for the true experience of living in an oceanside community: mere blocks from the beach, it offers the best of California weather and culture. Construction isn’t the first thing you think of when in Manhattan Beach, but when you do, you think of Casner Construction.

"The term ’Casner Quality’ is synonymous with high-end residential quality in the South Bay area," said Art Jurado, sales consultant of Sonsray Machinery in southern California. "People ask for Casner homes by name because they know each home is crafted with care and built to the highest of standards while also offering a distinct California style."

When a Casner home goes on the market, the offers come in quickly — and often above asking price as bidding wars ensue. "Usually within a day or two, I have anywhere from three to 10 offers on the house," said Craig Casner, who has been in the home-building business in southern California since the 1960s. He earned his license in 1974, and his two sons, Jeremy and Josh (licensed in 2000) now work in the family business and carry on the "Casner Quality" legacy.

With his homes in high demand, Casner places emphasis on being a good neighbor, and completing as much of the heavy earthwork required for each new home as quickly and efficiently as possible. With that in mind, the company added a new Case 1121F wheel loader to its fleet in 2013, and the results have been encouraging.

"The last job we did here in Hermosa Beach, we had to export 500 or 600 yards," said Jeremy Casner. "It was a hillside job. The cut of the grade had to be flat with the street in about 80 feet, so we had some 10-foot verticals. This machine hogged the dirt out faster than any other machine I’ve ever seen."

Big Production on Small Sites

While it is the second-largest wheel loader available from Case and Sonsray, the 1121F fits nicely into the sitework performed by Casner. As the company began looking for a new wheel loader, size, speed and power were important. The 1121F weighs in at 59,191 lbs. (26,849 kg) and offers 320 hp (net) and 56,310 lbs. (25,541 kg) of breakout force. Casner outfitted this machine with a 6 cu. yd. (4.6 cu m) bucket and added radial tires and heavy-duty axles for greater traction and more robust lifting capabilities. The added strength and power were required as the earthmoving here is rarely a day at the beach.

"Some jobs you encounter clay or adobe material, the more expansive soil, very dense, very heavy, very wet," said Jeremy. "It’s definitely more difficult to work in and you definitely need a heavier-duty machine to work in that material."

"We have jobs like these where we have to move thousands of yards of dirt, and a backhoe will do it but it does it in a lot more time than this (wheel loader)," said Craig. "My son Jeremy is into grading, demolition, dirt hauling and dirt moving, and this machine just does the job three- or four-times as fast as using a backhoe."

"The power, the strength of the torque, the breakout power that the machine has as far as hogging into a hillside and going into stockpiles to load trucks, it kills it," said Jeremy. "I’ve been an equipment operator for probably 15 years on and off. I ran scrapers, I ran excavators, I ran wheel loaders and this machine by far blows those other pieces of equipment out of the water."

Tier IV Engine

Technology Reduces Emissions, Noise

and Maintenance

Part of being a good working neighbor in these tight-knit oceanside communities is bringing ecologically friendly equipment to the jobsite. California is at the forefront of emissions regulations, and the 1121F fits in nicely. The machine uses selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology to meet Tier IV regulations in reducing NOx and particulate matter (pm) emissions.

"The older machines that are belching out giant clouds of black smoke are not really friendly to the neighbors or the area," said Craig. "That equipment has slowly been (replaced) for newer pieces of machinery like this loader, and these new ones are completely environment-friendly."

SCR is well suited for wheel loaders because it’s an after-treatment system that let’s the engine do what it’s designed to do: generate power at varied engine loads. The technology, which has been accepted for several years for on-highway diesel applications throughout North America and Europe, also doesn’t require the use of regeneration to burn off accumulated particulate for faster throttle response time. The end result is full power and breakout force when needed. Additionally, SCR engines are optimized to create an efficient combustion process. The technology can actually improve performance because the engines breathe more freely, which in turn, results in significant fuel savings.

The machine also helps reduce another byproduct that is particularly sensitive to working in residential neighborhoods: noise pollution.

"It’s far quieter than any other machine of this size that I’ve ever driven or operated," said Jeremy. "Being inside the cab with the door closed, you feel like you are not in a piece of equipment because it is so quiet."

Optimum Visibility

for Working on

Tight Sites

The company recently put the wheel loader to work on a 100 by 100 ft. (30.5 by 30.5 m) lot. Although the job site was small, Jeremy said the 1121F is a safe performer in tight quarters. Key to those efforts is visibility.

"The cab of the machine is very open, very spacious, glass from ceiling to floor," he said. "You can see the ground really well, you can see on both sides of the machine, you can see between the front wheels and the bucket when the bucket’s in the air. When you put it in reverse, the backup camera comes on. You can see what’s behind the machine, if anyone’s back there. When you are backing up, you know when you are getting close to something."

A new, wide-angle lens provides optimal visibility to the rear of the machine through the back-up camera. The wheel loader also features the lowest and narrowest rear hood in the industry.

"Overall, the visibility is very good."

An Excellent Partner

Casner worked together with Sonsray Machinery’s Santa Fe Springs branch to select and spec out the 1121F. With the assistance of sales consultant Art Jurado and the backing of the company’s service department, Craig knows he has a partner in helping him optimize uptime and productivity.

"I have a great relationship with Art going back to the 1980s," he said. "I’ve always had great deals with him. I have bought a lot of equipment from him over the years. 20 or more pieces, including backhoes, skip loaders, skid steers and wheel loaders. I have always been satisfied."

Casner Quality — From Earthmoving to the Finished Product

Taking everything into account, Craig believes the 1121F fits in nicely to his primary goals of being a good neighbor and performing premium work. If he’s able to do it a bit faster with equipment like the 1121F, that helps contribute to an equally important quality: profitability.

"It’s time versus money," said Craig. "The longer a project takes, your profit margin is spread over the number of days you invest in a project. If you’re in and out of a project in eight to ten days, that’s a premium versus a project that takes longer because you’re going to make the same amount of money. It just took you twice as long to make it."

"This machine here, it’ll do all what we need in half the time or one-fourth the time that the smaller machine will need."

At the end of the day, it all culminates into a total package that Craig is happy to bless with his family’s name.

"Everything has to be premium, because when my name goes on the presale list they use the phrase ’Casner Quality.’ They expect everything to be first class. That’s what I give them."

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