Kerr Contractor’s ’Orange Fleet’ Fills Oregon Landscape

Fri December 30, 2005 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

As one of northwest Oregon’s premier heavy contractors, Kerr Contractors Inc., has the talent and the equipment to tackle the largest, most challenging projects. A key ingredient to its long-term strategy for growth is a commitment to expanding its fleet of big orange machines.

Today, Kerr Contractors has seven large Hitachi machines ranging from a pair of EX700s to an EX1200. When the firm recently won a bid to remove more than 800,000 cu. yds. of overburden at one of Rinker Materials Corporation’s Portland-area pits, it was just the latest example of area processors knowing who to call — and Kerr knowing what was needed — to get the job done.

Beast of Over-Burden

According to president and owner Brent Kerr, his orange fleet is ideally suited for the project.

“That quarry is more than 100 years old. For years it produced stones used to build jetties along Oregon’s coast — some as big as 50 tons. To get to that size stones they covered up a lot of good virgin material with 20 to 80 feet of over-burden and waste rock. It’s our job to get down to the gray basalt material so they can drill, blast, and quarry it.

“We’ve carved out a niche for this type of work because of the machines in our fleet.”

Removing such massive volumes of material takes an impressive machine. Kerr is meeting those demands with both a Zaxis 800 and EX1200.

“We rely heavily on our EX1200,” said Kerr. “In the past, the EX1200 has averaged up to 10,000 yards per 10-hour shift at this site. Unfortunately, the weather has made it so mucky that we can’t get production up to a level that justifies this size machine.

“That’s why we brought in our Zaxis 800. It’s filled in nicely by loading the 25-yard haul trucks.”

Orange Support

For years, Kerr has relied heavily upon Hitachi machines to provide the bulk of his material handling needs. That loyalty stems from performance, but also the support it gets from its Hitachi dealer.

“I’ve tried other machines in the past and can see why Hitachi is a market leader for this type of equipment. There is no doubt in my mind that they are the fastest and smoothest excavators at work today; the response of the hydraulics is just outstanding.

“What really keeps me coming back though, is the service and support I get from Pape Machinery’s Portland office. Case in point: both of the most recent machines we purchased — the Zaxis 800 and the EX1200 — were delivered ahead of schedule. That’s almost unheard of these days. I’ve been asked before if there are any instances where Pape has really proven responsive and the truth is, we’ve never given them anything to respond to — the equipment performance is that solid.

“But there have been cases where they’ve caught some things while doing their scheduled interval inspections and had the issues immediately resolved; that’s what we need in an equipment supplier.”

Know Your Machine

Kerr’s fleet includes a pair of EX700s, an EX750, a pair of Zaxis 800s, and an EX1200 — the second EX1200 the company has owned.

“We had another EX1200 about four years ago that we bought specifically for a large project. We used it for about two and a half years years and were approached about selling it. Looking at our schedule, I knew we wouldn’t be needing that large of a machine for about 10 months so we sold it and, when the time came, bought the new 1200 in September of ’04.

“In fact, we’ve become so comfortable and familiar with that machine that, upon delivery, we went down to the docks ourselves, picked it up, and brought all the components back to our yard for assembly.”

Kerr said he already has several projects on the books that will keep his fleet busy for the foreseeable future. Some of those include additional overburden work.

“The overburden projects are key for us since they allow us to put a larger machine into the mix. We can move 250,000 yards of material in 25 to 30 days. It takes our competitors three months to move that much volume. It really gives us a nice competitive edge.

“I just can’t overstate the reliability of Hitachi equipment. We occasionally do jetty work and some of them can jut more than 15,000 feet out into the water. The last thing you want to worry about when you’re far from land is downtime. And with Hitachi and the support we get from our dealer, we don’t.”

Kerr Contractors is serviced by Pape Machinery of Portland, OR.

(This story appears courtesy of “Americas’ Mines & Quarries.”)

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