Last summer, JW Demolition, Charlotte, N.C., decided to invest in four of Komatsu’s new 2011 HB215-1 excavators, primarily because the model’s eco-friendly technology offers its owners such a big savings on fuel costs — as much as 40 per
For Will Dellinger, buying four new Komatsu hybrid excavators for his burgeoning demolition and recycling firm was a no-brainer.
Last summer, Dellinger’s North Carolina-based company decided to invest in four of Komatsu’s new 2011 HB215-1 excavators, primarily because the model’s eco-friendly technology offers its owners such a big savings on fuel costs — as much as 40 percent.
To his way of thinking, then, there was very little risk involved.
“These hybrids are 20-ton-class machines,” explained Dellinger, founder and part-owner of JW Demolition in Charlotte. “Some of the tasks I was doing with the larger machines, such as loading trash trucks, you can do it as efficiently with these machines. You are just swinging back and forth at a trash pile and with this technology, the more you swing, the more you save.”
Dellinger said that the way they figure it, he and his partner, Tony Pizzo, are seeing more of a fuel savings than most contractors would.
“We just identified all the areas where we could use a smaller class machine and realize more hybrid savings,” Dellinger added. “Those savings were instrumental to taking on the payments because they almost offset one another.”
Besides the fuel cost savings, Dellinger also liked the warranties and the aggressive financing offered by Komatsu and the dealer, Linder Industrial Machinery, in order for him to take on the new technology.
“You take all those factors into consideration, even though the excavators were $25,000 to $30,000 more per machine, and they made for an affordable package for us,” he said.
As a result, JW Demolition was the first company in the country to order so many of the new excavators right off the factory floor, according to Bill Cross, the salesman at Linder who sold the machines to Dellinger.
Cross said that for a company to be that aggressive in buying equipment in this tight economy is almost “a miracle.”
“It is unusual that anybody would buy that many new hybrid excavators at once because they’re brand new and they’re more expensive due to the new technology,” Cross said. “With the economy the way it is, most of my customers are conservative. They’re not expanding or growing — they’re just trying to maintain, but this company is booming. They have been my biggest customer this year.”
Indeed, Dellinger is seen as something of a wunderkind in the Charlotte business market for his successful strategies. In the demolition and recycling business since 2001, when he began by tearing down and recycling out-of-work textile mills across the Carolinas, Dellinger brought on Pizzo, his brother-in-law, to help run JW Demolition in 2008 — and promptly saw his business increase by 700 percent in three years.
“I attribute that to experience, making wise decisions like buying these hybrid excavators, as well as investing in the company and training good employees,” Dellinger explained. “Obviously, there is business happening everywhere, but there is also a limited amount of it, so we have worked hard to get a healthy share of the market.”
Dellinger also said that he got a leg up on the competition when he started in 2008 because he put a lot of money into equipment with advanced technology, while others would fall back on inventories full of 2005 models and older.
“It’s not that they aren’t good machines, but because the technology has advanced so much in the last five years our embracing this technology has been so instrumental in our efficiency and success. There have been fewer breakdowns, a higher output of product and then to top it all off, we have been able to harness the hybrid technology to save on fuel costs, which all allows us to run a highly competitive business model to where we are able to bid effectively and get jobs.”
Cross, a veteran of 38 years as a construction equipment salesman, finds himself amazed at the inherent business sense of a guy as young as Dellinger.
“Hybrid machines are often a hard-sell to companies,” he admitted. “These hybrids are probably 20 percent more expensive than the standard machines of the same size. We have to show them the savings they will see by going with a hybrid. But Will wants his firm to be known as a green, eco-friendly company — a recycling company helping the environment.
“He saw the advantages of the hybrid right away because he traded in some older, larger machines that were just costing him a small fortune in fuel use and operating costs per hour. He probably cut his operating costs in half by going with these hybrids.”
Cross pointed to the fact that the Komatsu HB215-1 hybrids average between two-and-a-half to three gallons per hour, which is extremely low for a 48,000-lb. diesel excavator. The new technology is in the machine’s regenerative electric swing. It features a large ultra capacitor that generates its own electricity and stores it so it is charged when the operator needs to swing again.
That all adds up to a 25 to 40 percent fuel savings over comparable non-hybrid excavators, Cross said.
The new hybrids may very well be the first of many such machines in Dellinger’s fleet. He is thinking of buying another Komatsu hybrid this year and plans to gradually replace many of his existing 30 or so excavators over the next few years.
“I said to Linder and Komatsu, ’Guys, I don’t have bad habits. I do what makes common sense to me and I have real common sense views about where I think things are headed. Every machine I owned would be a hybrid if you made a hybrid of everything,’” Dellinger explained. “It is proven technology. And Komatsu has proved to me that everything they have said about this machine has been backed up.”
Even though JW Demolition, Linder and Komatsu have only worked together for about a year, Dellinger sees their relationship as long-term partners in moving his business forward.
“We have such a good working relationship with Komatsu and Linder and everything they brought to us has been beneficial,” Dellinger said. “Even their shears and rock crushers are innovative. We just felt that there was a need to replace some of our 30-ton class machines that had magnet packs and impact crushers. Not only have we been able to perform the same tasks, but we are using smaller equipment and benefiting from the efficiency of the hybrid in that we have seen a dramatic increase in fuel savings.”
Besides saving money, Dellinger said that he and his company wanted to show “environmental awareness.” They recognize, he said that the construction and demolition business is embracing more energy conservation practices in the age of global warming and that they “might as well get on board now.”
“We are a growing company and growing extremely fast, so it is much easier for me to do this right now than it would be if I had to go back and implement it later,” he added.