Kawasaki Loaders Move, Groove for Lexington Mill

Thu October 31, 2002 - Southeast Edition
Craig Mongeau

When Kepley-Frank Hardwoods Co. Inc. decided to purchase a wheel loader for its sawmill operations, the company wasn’t looking for something “run-of-the-mill;” the Lexington, NC-based business needed a rugged machine that would help it move thousands of pounds of timber, bark and mulch daily with little downtime.

According to Jimmy Kepley, owner and president of the 42-year-old sawmill and wholesale lumber company, he tried out all the major manufacturers of wheel loaders, but one machine impressed him the most: a Kawasaki 80Z IV.

“The hydraulic system really stood out and it’s extremely operator-friendly,” said Kepley. “It [the 80Z IV] just performed much better than the others we tried.”

Since Kepley purchased the 80Z IV from Interstate Equipment Company, based in Statesville, NC, in 1996, the loader has become the company’s workhorse, primarily using it as a log sorter.

The 80Z’s performance spurred Kepley to purchase a Kawasaki 65Z IV and a 70Z IV and 2000 and 2001, respectively—both from Interstate Equipment.

Now the 80Z and 70Z share the log yard sorting and piling tasks, along with the charging of the mill. Kepley employs the 65Z IV when loading mulch.

Most important, the Kawasaki’s have helped Kepley maintain production levels and have cost the company virtually nothing in maintenance costs.

“We’ve not had one situation where they’ve [the Kawasaki wheel loaders] have broken down…Our maintenance dollars just have not been an issue. And I know Interstate will be there for us if we need them,” he noted.

In addition to its three Kawasaki loaders, Kepley-Frank Hardwoods owns six Taylor forklifts and four Barko knuckleboom loaders.

For more information Kepley-Frank Hardwoods, call 336/746-5419. For more information on Interstate Equipment Co., call 704/ 873-9048.