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Attention to Detail Spurs Trophy Tractor's Success

Wed April 05, 2023 - West Edition #8
CEG


The huge service area at Trophy will accommodate the maintenance of its 200 rental machines in addition to its customers’ repair needs.
(Photo courtesy of Trophy Tractor.)
The huge service area at Trophy will accommodate the maintenance of its 200 rental machines in addition to its customers’ repair needs. (Photo courtesy of Trophy Tractor.)
The huge service area at Trophy will accommodate the maintenance of its 200 rental machines in addition to its customers’ repair needs.
(Photo courtesy of Trophy Tractor.) Trophy Tractor’s new facilities sit on 15 acres just off I-35W in Burleson, Texas.
(Photo courtesy of Trophy Tractor.) The company will add 12 water trucks to its existing fleet of 70 trucks during the second quarter of this calendar year, and even more by year end.
(Photo courtesy of Trophy Tractor.) Jeff Miller (L), president, and Maxx Miller, vice president, discuss adding to their rental fleet at Trophy Tractor’s new location in North Texas.
(Photo courtesy of Trophy Tractor.) Miller said his machines, like this Cat D10, are kept in like new condition.
(Photo courtesy of Trophy Tractor.) Among the machines in Trophy’s fleet is this Cat 730 articulated truck fitted with a 6,500 gal. Klein water tank.
(Photo courtesy of Trophy Tractor.)

Jeff Miller cares for his fleet of heavy equipment as if it was one of his grandchildren.

But the meticulous attention he pays to each of the "tractors" in his fleet, doting on their condition, appearance and well-being, in part contributes to the staggering growth of his rental company, Trophy Tractor, over the past decade.

"Every tractor out there is mine," Miller said of his approximately 200 machines ranging in size from skid steers to D10 dozers. "I'm very protective of each piece. We've always tried to set ourselves apart from the rest and one way we do that is by the quality and condition of our equipment. You can rent a 30,000-pound excavator or D10 dozer from lots of places, but ours are basically new."

Contractors in the DFW area have taken notice and have fueled Trophy's expansion to a 22,000 sq.-ft. facility on 15 acres in Burleson, Texas, just south of Fort Worth. The space gives them three times the yard acreage, two and a half times the shop area and five times the office space as compared to the previous location in Grand Prairie.

And that may not be enough.

"We've nearly outgrown the facility already," Miller said. "I designed it five years ago and at the time thought it we allow for growth for a decade or so. But we already plan to add a second floor for office space which is badly needed."

Meeting Expectations

"I don't want our customers to deal with down time," Miller said, "and that philosophy guides decisions we make. Historically, in the pre-covid years, we'd sell a machine at 4,500 hours and just replace it with a new one. Now, because of the availability of new equipment, we have to run things a little longer, probably in the 6-7,000-hour range. Our customers expect a machine that will keep running on the job."

Miller said his company is even particular about where its machines work.

"Honestly, we avoid sending equipment to the Austin area because the rock there and in San Antonio is very hard on a machine," he said. "We don't push the Houston market because I really don't like our machines in that salty air and water. Our customers do not want rusty or rock beat tractors."

The new campus in Burleson even includes a building dedicated to keeping tractors out of the weather when needed, according to Miller.

Having newer, better machines makes support easier when necessary, Miller added.

"Where we have everyone else beat is how we support our fleet," he said. "Instead of a one-week downtime, we'll have someone there within 24-hours, if a machine goes down."

More Growth

While Trophy's fleet has doubled in size over the last five years, Miller expects it to double again in the next 24 to 36 months.

Currently, there are approximately 220 machines in inventory, ranging from skid steers to D-10 dozers.

"We do a lot of renewable energy work," Miller said, "and that is very hot right now. A big part of our fleet at any given time is out on wind and solar farm projects. Commercial work in Texas is also strong, of course. We do keep a lot of equipment out on-site work for new subdivisions too."

Miller is already negotiating for an additional ten acres in the same industrial park in Burleson, but plans to expand outside of the North Texas market soon.

"We plan to go to west Texas to add another facility, probably in the Abilene, Midland, San Angelo area," he said. "There is room for us in that market, and in the busy oilfield of West Texas and New Mexico."

Maxx Miller, Jeff's son and company vice-president, will be pivotal in Trophy's future growth.

"As we expand, we want to stay in our lane," Maxx offered. "Our main focus will always be heavy equipment, heavy rents. We may never be the biggest, but we do want to be the best. We want to be known as having best machines with the lowest hours."

With machines out on rent as far away as California and North Dakota, the Trophy formula seems to be working, even if not exactly what Miller initially intended when he stepped out on his own.

"We always thought we'd be a sales company that would rent a machine once in a while," Jeff said. "We've become a rental company that sells an occasional tractor."

Trophy Tractor Adds to Fleet, Grows Its Water Truck Business

As Trophy Tractor's heavy equipment enterprise has grown exponentially over the years, one segment of the business has exceeded even the owner's expectations.

The company will add 12 water trucks to its existing fleet of 70 trucks during the second quarter of this calendar year and even more by year end.

"We expect to have more than 100 water trucks available for rent by the end of 2023," said Jeff Miller, Trophy's founder and president. "These trucks have become a major part of our business and we take pride in the truck we are bring to market."

Miller said his company got serious about trucks for dust control and soil compaction applications in 2011 when he ordered two trucks and the supplier advised that a truck spec'd out like that would not be cheap.

"Well, we weren't looking for cheap," Miller said. "We were looking to set the standard for water trucks going forward. We think we've done that."

Trophy's trucks are typically on Peterbilt and Kenworth chassis, but there's much more that sets them apart, according to Miller.

"Our trucks are heavy spec, double frame trucks, most often with 64,000 GPW chassis and 20,000-pound front axles. We offer a 6x6 option on our on-highway trucks for better flotation on the job site. Those are the ‘beefy' things that matter, but we do a lot of other things as well."

Among other notable features, Miller pointed at these:

  • Six sprayers: two front, two side and two rear. Each individually controlled;
  • Suction loading for drawing from a stock tank;
  • Most come standard with a water cannon;
  • Upgraded, larger pumps;
  • Automatic transmissions; and
  • Adjustable spray volume from the knob.

Miller said each feature results in benefits the customer can see and appreciate. A single operator when two might be necessary with other trucks; lower water usage resulting in cost savings are examples.

Manufacturer Relationship

Trophy sources its trucks from Klein Products, a manufacturer Miller said they trust.

"We're one of the largest Klein dealers in the world, if you take into account its full line — on road, off road, tanks and pumps. The folks there work very closely with us, especially Barry McManus, their president. He's been very good to us.

"Barry and his company developed a constant velocity pump," he added. "A hydraulic motor runs off the PTO to run the pump. We can get full pressure at only 700 rpm. The operator can ramp up the spray volume from the cab. Customers really like it. Klein has been a big reason we've grown from two trucks ten years ago to over seventy now."

Believing price is not always the most important consideration for the end user, Miller is constantly tinkering on his water truck product line, with Klein's help.

"They just finished the most expensive 2,000 gallon water truck ever built," he said. "We had them put a 2,000 gallon tank on a 4x4 International. We're real anxious to see how that goes.

"Just like in the dirt moving world, I'm always trying to set us apart." CEG




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