Brian Phillips (L) of Southland Machinery meets with his newest SANY customer Rick Crocker of Circle C Services in Odenville, Ala.
In St. Clair County, Ala. there's a hot bed of construction work. The bedroom community to Birmingham, Ala. sees new subdivisions cropping up on a regular basis. In the middle of this construction boom is the self-proclaimed "one man show" of Rick Crocker of Circle C Services, based in Odenville, Ala., in the heart of St. Clair County.
Crocker's forte is in small contracting jobs that he can do by himself, with just a dump truck and a couple of machines. Crocker has established himself as an integral member of the community and has built a reputation of excellence in his work.
His career began with the city of Odenville's utilities department, where for more than 21 years Crocker worked installing water lines, water mains, sewer lines, and anything else related to utilities construction and maintenance. In his spare time, Crocker started doing some dirt work on the side, primarily for local developers. As this side business continued to grow, equipment was later added to support the work. "Things actually got to the point where I couldn't keep up with the demand for my hobby work," Crocker recalled.
"A lot of prayer led me to leave the utilities company and start my own business about a year ago," Crocker said. "I'm just a one man show in this endeavor. I haul the machine to the job site, operate the machine, load the dump truck, and drive the dump truck to where the load is going. It's just me."
The first machine he purchased for the start of his "side job work" was in 2013, when he bought a used JCB 1110 skid steer loader from Justin Cooper at Southland Machinery/JCB of Alabama in Leeds, Ala. From this machine, Crocker moved into another brand of used compact track machine, and then bought a brand new one. Each of the machines were SSL's or CTL's. "After getting into contracting work on a full-time basis, I thought it was about time to get into the mini-excavator market," Crocker explained. So he purchased a SANY SY35U mini-excavator.
Crocker admitted that he had actually gone to see another dealer about a machine before testing the SANY, but ultimately never came to terms. "After I started to consider this investment, I got an e-mail from Brian [Phillips], my Southland Machinery sales rep who said he had something that I really needed to take a look at and demo. I had a job coming up, so I went to Southland, picked up the machine and demoed it for about a week and ended up signing the papers for it."
Crocker said that in the past he hadn't really heard anything about SANY, so he never considered it. "Right after I got into the market, Brian told me about this machine," he recalled. "I went straight to the web and starting digging around and researching the machines. What really brought me to the table was the whole package AND the five-year, 5,000-hour full machine warranty."
Crocker had rented about a half dozen other manufacturers' mini-excavators in the past and had experience with the other brands. "I would put this new SANY up against any other brand on the market," Crocker admitted after making his latest purchase. "It's as good as anything out there, but with a better warranty than all the rest. You can't ask for much more!"
Crocker says he's been pleasantly surprised by the machine, particularly how everything is very easy to get to. The only service work that's been required is the routine changing of fluids and periodic greasing.
So now Crocker's fleet is a dump truck, a pickup truck, a couple of trailers, a track loader, and a SANY mini-excavator. "I can do everything I need with these pieces, and if I need anything else, I rent it from Brian," Crocker said. "My success stems from being small and nimble. When other contractors may be backlogged with work, I take small jobs and can go to work immediately." It's this ability that provides him with continuous work within a 10-mile radius of his home base.
"We hear about the quality work Rick does and the reputation he has," Phillips stated. "We like to look back and say we were a part of the beginning of his company and the progression of his company and the good reputation he has achieved. Our job is to help our customers be successful and to be a successful partner for them. I'm glad to have been able to work with Rick."
The "nuts and bolts" of the machine were very enticing to Crocker. The 30 hp Tier IV final Yanmar engine with Kawasaki pumps requires no regeneration and no DEF fluid. "The things that other people have to deal with on a Tier 4 final engine, I don't," Crocker said. "I put diesel fuel in it and go to work. It's virtually the same set up as the larger SANY excavators, but in a smaller platform. Can't ask for much more."
"The lifting capacity for this size machine is quite astounding," Crocker continued. "The cycle times are quick. It's easy to haul. It came at a better price and the quality is the same or better than others, but with a better warranty. I feel quite comfortable with the whole package."
Crocker added that the service and support he receives from his SANY dealer is "second to none, and that he and Phillips still communicate regularly. "Brian is the best salesman I've ever worked with," he said. "We talk quite often and have become business partners and friends. We share ideas back-and-forth and we try to reciprocate business."
"Anyone in the market for a mini-excavator should try one of these," Crocker said in endorsement of the product. "It's simple to service, simple to operate. Not a lot of the extra ‘gadgetry' that I don't use. It doesn't break the bank, we have a dealer and manufacturer to support it, and a lengthy warranty period. Low cost of ownership is the bottom line on this purchase."