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Bobo Grinding Finds Silver Lining in Machines’ Glitches

Thu April 29, 2004 - Southeast Edition

Six years ago, Jimmy Bobo, a suburban Atlanta land developer, and his brother, David, a grading contractor, realized that between the wood grinding needs of their two businesses and the needs of several of their friends who owned similar businesses, they could keep a wood grinder busy and make a little money on the side.

With this idea, the brothers started Bobo Grinding, based in Woodstock, GA, and contacted several wood-grinding equipment manufacturers.

“We came to the conclusion, after discussions with various individuals, that Morbark must be the standard because comparisons to their units were numerous,” said Jimmy.

The partners placed their first tub grinder order with Morbark on a Model 1200.

“Since we were new to the equipment, we wanted big-company support and service,” said David.

Bobo Grinding was already committed to a land clearing project with a local school district and the job required them to begin within a week of placing their purchase order with Morbark.

Starting on the

Wrong Foot

To help his new customers stay on schedule and meet their commitments, Tim Thomas, Morbark sales representative, arranged to have a Model 1100 tub grinder pulled from the used equipment inventory at Morbark’s headquarters in Winn, MI, and sent to Bobo’s job site within four days.

Upon its arrival and setup, David and Jimmy traded off running wood waste through the grinder. Soon after, the machine broke down and struggles ensued.

They contacted Thomas about the situation. Within a few hours, the mechanic arrived on site, and the problem was diagnosed as a faulty clutch power-take-off unit, or PTO.

After replacing the unit, the Bobos were up and running again. Unfortunately, they had lost at least a day of production. “We had the mechanic out there, but we all worked on it, including David and Jimmy,” added Thomas.

Shortly after the mechanic left the job site, the machine had another problem. This time the tub grinder broke down because of a driveshaft problem.

Thomas called the mechanic back for another round, this time in the pouring rain.

“Where we were working on the unit, we had an umbrella over us as we tried to heat up metal with torches and use sledge hammers. I’m sure we looked like a motley crew out there,” said Thomas.

Bobo only got 10 hours of production out of the Morbark 1100 in the first week. The upside: the brothers became acclimated to the level of support offered by Morbark.

“Admittedly, there was significantly more downtime [in the first week] than production time,” said Thomas.

Knowing that Bobo Grinding was getting further and further behind on their first grinding job, he phoned Morbark and requested another loaner be sent immediately.

After pulling the first model 1100 tub grinder off site and sending it back to the manufacturer for repairs, Bobo Grinding restarted production with the second unit and for a short time it ran well. Unfortunately, it too broke down with problems similar to the first tub grinder, but with the help of another regional Morbark service rep, the loaner tub grinder was back up and running within 48 hours.

“I’m sure Tim [Thomas] got tired of hearing from David and me because without reservation, we clearly expressed our dissatisfaction. But to Tim’s credit, he was calm and said, ’I’ll send you another grinder,’ and he did,” said Jimmy.

Thomas knew from his industry experience that anything less than his ability to locate a supplemental tub grinder to run in parallel to the Morbark loaner wouldn’t allow Bobo Grinding to finish the job on time. Thomas called a Morbark customer in Americas, GA., for help.

Pickle Logging was preparing to take delivery of a new Morbark 1300 tub grinder, and Thomas thought that he could negotiate a win-win situation for both of his customers.

Pickle Logging could solidify some contract work immediately on its new tub grinder and Bobo Grinding could get back on schedule. Pickle Logging agreed and re-routed its Morbark 1300 to Bobo Grinding’s job site, bringing with it their own operator, and began grinding.

Morbark agreed to pay for the majority of Pickle Logging’s contract with Bobo Grinding until its new Morbark 1200 was delivered.

“We were completely exasperated by the time our new Morbark got here,” said David. “For the first few weeks, we were paying other people more than what we were getting paid to do the work at the same time that we were repairing Tim’s grinder.”

Bobo Grinding finished its initial land clearing project on time and within budget.

A Silver Lining

Why would Bobo Grinding take delivery of its new Morbark tub grinder after the issues they had just faced?

“Tim was right. The new machine had all the bells and whistles. It was night and day when compared with the loaners we started with and we were pleased with it,” said Jimmy.

In fact, Jimmy noted that in retrospect their early difficulties with the Morbark tub grinders have helped Bobo Grinding’s business. The brothers learned how to build a grinder from one end to the other.

“To this day, I can walk up to a grinder and say, ’You need to check this, this, this and this’,” said David. “It was a good education. It got us off to a start that otherwise would have been slow-building and made us emergency and up-hours minded immediately.”

Since resolving the problems with their first tub grinder, the Bobo brothers have experienced phenomenal growth.

“Sometimes we jump and then ask if we have a parachute,” joked Jimmy.

Those jumps have landed Bobo Grinding a broad base of revenue sources for its processed wood waste and soil materials. Beyond traditional outlets of landscape and compost markets, Bobo Grinding has used its ground materials in wood fuel, bio-filter, industrial waste recycling and erosion control applications.

Today, Bobo Grinding generates more than 3,000 yards of mulch and soil products a day from four recycling yards in the Atlanta area. The company has 150 pieces of heavy and light equipment in its fleet, including eight Morbark tub grinders.

And that first model 1200 tub grinder? It operates six days a week, 10 to 12 hours each day, and has almost 10,000 hours of operation under its belt.