Ditch Witch’s Mini Machines Making a Mark in Florida

Mon June 06, 2005 - Southeast Edition

In order to think big, Ditch Witch of Central and South Florida is looking small.

“The trend over the past few years has been moving to compact equipment and the addition of these products is a logical extension of our traditional line of underground construction equipment,” said General Manager Kent Stephenson. “Their productivity, ease of operation and the versatility offered by more than 70 attachments makes these machines multi-purpose tool carriers capable of doing many different jobs.”

The popularity of the smaller machines comes from their ability to move in areas that would otherwise require hand labor.

Among the equipment creating the most buzz is the XT850 tool carrier, Stephenson said.

“There is nothing else on the market like the XT850,” he said. “It excavates like a mini-excavator, including offset digging, but can do a second task with the tool-carrier component without the need to change or add attachments.”

This machine accomplishes offset excavating with a dual-pivot arrangement. As on mini-excavators, the boom’s pivot point is at the front of the machine where the boom is connected to the tractor. The second pivot point is near the center of the machine beneath the floor of the operator’s station. It rotates the boom assembly, including the boom swing pivot.

To offset dig, the assembly is rotated in one direction from the center point and the boom is swung at the front pivot point in the opposite direction.

“Sales of our compact utility models are growing at a rapid pace,” Stephenson said of the line, which also includes three mini-skid steer models, six mini-excavators and more than 70 attachments.

The name Ditch Witch has had a strong presence in Florida for more than 40 years. And during those decades of rapid growth and development, Ditch Witch equipment has carried much of the workload for building the state’s expanding underground utility infrastructure.

Ditch Witch of Central and South Florida, based in Leesburg, took over sales and service responsibilities in 2001 and opened a branch in Pompano Beach in 2003.

“Customer support is a primary focus of our entire organization,” Stephenson said. “We recognize that customer service begins with attitude, and we have assembled a team of professionals totally committed to the importance of service. Long hours, late nights, working through the weekend … we do whatever it takes to fill the needs of our customers.”

Trenchers and vibratory plows still comprise an important segment of the Ditch Witch product line, but the dealership also sells and supports many new products developed to meet the changing needs of evolving underground construction markets.

Historically, users of Ditch Witch equipment have been providers of telecommunications, electrical power, natural gas, and water and sewer services and organizations and the contractors who service them, along with specialized contractors such as electricians, plumbers, landscapers and others.

“Our product line has changed over the years,” Stephenson said. “Horizontal directional drills have become increasingly-important underground construction tools, and we offer a full line of directional drills ranging from 5,000 to 80,000 lbs. pullback, along with Subsite tracking equipment and utility locators. Dual-purpose vacuum excavators are not only important for directional drilling operations, but a versatile stand-alone product for a variety of applications, such as potholing to confirm the locations of buried utilities.”

The ability to place pipe and cable beneath street improvements without extensive applications has extended directional drilling’s role beyond conventional utility work. In Florida and other environmentally-sensitive areas, horizontal directional drilling often is the only method that can be used for underground installations.

Ditch Witch trenchers range from compact, self-contained 11-hp walk-along models through 184-hp machines. Popular mid-range models offer interchangeable attachments including utility backhoe, vibratory plow and combination trencher-vibratory plow. Saw and other specialized trenching attachments with different tooth and chain combinations are available for working in various types of soils, including rock and coral.

Ditch Witch of Central and South Florida stocks a broad selection of parts, provides service including routine preventive maintenance and repairs, conducts operational and maintenance training in its facilities or at customer locations. Training is tailored to individual customer needs with both group and individual training available. Stephenson said parts inventories are above levels considered standard for an equipment dealer and that the dealership ranks in the top 10 of the worldwide Ditch Witch dealer organization in terms of customer satisfaction in filling parts orders.

“Florida is a large state, and we recognize it isn’t always convenient or possible for customers to come in to pick up parts or bring equipment to our shops,” Stephenson said. “So our philosophy is to bring service to our customers — either to their facilities or construction sites. With our mobile service trucks and trained service personnel, we can change out attachments, replace parts, and make adjustments and most repairs in the field. We also deliver and pickup equipment as customer needs require.

“We believe we have made great progress in our customer-service efforts. But we recognize it takes continuing effort to sustain excellent service, and we are determined not to relax. We will continue to improve to do the best we can in every way to make users of our equipment successful. It’s a team effort, and it’s all about people taking care of people.”

Ditch Witch equipment is manufactured by The Charles Machine Works Inc. in Perry, OK, the company that introduced the world’s first service line trencher in 1948.

For more information, call 352/638-9126 or 954/782-3552.