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Lanyard Development Hits Pay Dirt in Fill Business

Tue February 12, 2008 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Rob Lee’s original business plan did not include operating an excavating division. But when his real estate company, Lanyard Development Inc. of Savannah, Ga., bought a site containing fill material, fate took over.

One thing led to another and before Lee knew it, he was the proud owner of a new fill-dirt division. Unfortunately, he didn’t know tons about the dirt business.

Getting into the fill-dirt business may have been happenstance, but staying in it has been anything but.

“My background is real estate,” Lee said. “I find land, buy it, develop the lots and sell them to builders. Because we kind of backdoored into fill, we sought advice from well-respected grading contractors and other people in the industry. They advised me not to cut prices to get market share, but said we should earn the business by providing good service and doing what we say we will do.”

Lee also realized the ability to move fill was not as important as having the available inventory. That led him to acquire additional tracts of land, with an overall capacity of 9 million cu. yds. (6.8 million cu m) of fill material. All these locations are high-volume, high-production operations with a variety of material, making it possible to provide the right type of soil for every application.

“The beauty of this type of operation is that we can load material for our jobs, plus supply material to anyone else who needs it,” Lee said. “We often provide material to some of the larger, out-of-town contractors who don’t have the raw goods here.”

Lanyard’s pits average a combined capacity of 2,000 to 4,000 truckloads per week. Loading all that material are six Hitachi ZX350LC-3s and one ZX450LC-3.

Equipment Manager Bryan Bowen said the company used to use another brand, but, “We started to demo other brands because we had a number of breakdowns and could not get service or repairs. We cannot have customer trucks backing up because our machine is down, especially when some of the trucks are hauling dirt to one of our jobs. It gets expensive quickly at $50 per hour. If productivity is off, we cannot service our customers.

“We did a lot of side-by-side comparisons and kept detailed records. Hitachi was faster, smoother, and more fuel efficient — a lot more fuel efficient.”

Lanyard Development chose to lease the Hitachi units.

“We’re in the dirt business, not the equipment business, so we decided to lease. We even sold our own haul trucks in favor of using independent truck drivers to handle our company projects.”

Bowen said good service is an important part of selecting equipment. “We replaced every one of our excavators with Hitachi because our dealer takes care of us when there is a problem. They handle it, and we don’t lose any operating time.”

Lanyard Development is serviced by Industrial Tractor in Savannah, Ga.

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