As the project to expand Interstate 40 in central Arkansas was announced, it was a pretty good bet that some of the grading work for the highway would be handled by A&B Dirt Movers Inc. Since 1954, the company has done site preparation, grading and storm drainage work on hundreds of projects throughout the Conway region. This included roads and highways, colleges and universities, airports, retail centers, office complexes and more.
Not coincidentally, in the 60 years since the company was formed, Conway itself grew from roughly 6,000 people to more than 60,000 residents today. This massive growth helped fuel the need to expand the highway between Conway and Little Rock from four to six lanes.
When A&B was awarded the site preparation work for a 4-mi. (6.4 km) stretch of the highway expansion in 2013, owner Jerry Nabholz knew he was going to need the right hydraulic excavator to get the job done on time and on budget.
Working with Damon Jones, the branch manager of Scott Equipment, A&B acquired a Kobelco SK260LC, a nearly 30-ton (27.2 t) excavator with a 176-hp (131 kW) engine (2,100 rpm) and a bucket capacity of up to 1.83 cu. yds. (1.4 cu. m).
"I needed this excavator to move the dirt efficiently. This machine has a lot of power — but also great fuel savings, which is important," Nabholz said. "It’s been getting the job done for us and we plan to use it at some other sites as well."
A&B Dirt has spent most of fall of 2013 and early 2014 on site preparation for the Interstate, including grading, storm drainage work and preparing the base.
"Basically everything but the asphalt and the pouring of concrete," Nabholz said.
Jones said he had worked extensively with Nabholz’s company during his career, and knew the Kobelco machine would be ideal for the highway grading work.
"I was glad to recommend the SK260LC to A&B," Jones said. "There’s so much about this excavator to talk about, and it seems like Jerry’s been really pleased with how it’s performed."
Jones listed the excavator’s greater performing capacity and its overall cost efficiency as two of the primary drivers of the SK260LC’s appeal. The machine’s HINO engine provides strong fuel efficiency and reduced emissions with no loss of digging proficiency. The SK260LC has a maximum bucket digging force of 38,464 lbs. and a maximum arm crowding force of 28,600 lbs.
"Kobelco is big on selling the three E’s: enhancement, economy and environment — and those all really come through with this machine," Jones said. "For example, Jerry can save up to two and a half tanks of fuel a week, and depending on the price, that can mean saving $750 dollars a week."
Nabholz said getting up to $3,000 in monthly fuel savings makes a huge financial impact when bidding on jobs.
"It can mean the difference between getting a job and not getting it," Nabholz said. "It also means you might make some money on the job."
Another benefit Jones discussed was the Komex system that allows Nabholz to use the Internet to manage information about the excavator at all times, no matter where the machine is located.
"There’s a GPS in the machine that uploads information about the unit online which you can access from your computer. It tells you if anything is wrong with how it’s operating — like if it’s operating hot," Jones said. "It also helps with security, because it will alarm you if it’s operated or moved where it shouldn’t be."
According to Jones, the excavator has a bigger cab with wide windows and a rear-view camera for safety.
"The nine-position seat can really cut down on operator fatigue," Jones said.
At the job site, Nabholz said the excavator is on the job from 6:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
"I’ve really liked working with this excavator. It performs well and is really comfortable," said Nabholz’s son Jesse, who is the primary operator of the company’s SK260LC.
A&B Dirt Movers Inc. was founded in 1954 by Jerry’s father, Alfred Nabholz. Today, the company employs 22 people and owns more than 40 machines while serving the Conway area.
As the family business continues to flourish, Jerry is joined by his three sons Jesse, Zach and Tony. Nabholz says that 90 percent of the company’s projects are within 20 mi. of Conway. In addition to the I-40 highway expansion, A&B Dirt also is working on grading and site preparation work at Conway Municipal Airport and the University of Central Arkansas, Hendrix College and Central Baptist College.
"We’re looking at a good 2014 and we’re going to put all our Kobelco excavators to use this year," Nabholz said. The company also operates the SK210LC and the SK350LC models.
Scott Equipment Company is headquartered in Monroe, La., and began in 1939 as an agricultural store using mules as trade for farm equipment. From its humble beginnings with one store and 10 employees, the company today has 25 locations in five states.
For more information on Kobelco visit www.KOBELCO-USA.com.
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