Nortrax Goes Beyond the Conventional for Wetland Mitigation Specialists

It took owner Steve Gilbertson less than a minute to know he’d made the right choice in selecting the equipment manufacturer.

📅   Fri July 31, 2015 - Midwest Edition
Lori Tobias - CEG CORRESPONDENT


Haywire Point Owner Steve Gilbertson bought four John Deere model 210G excavators, removed the standard track and had them fit with floating amphibious bottoms manufactured by Sunland-Kori Services, headquartered in Louisiana. He also fit two of the excav
Haywire Point Owner Steve Gilbertson bought four John Deere model 210G excavators, removed the standard track and had them fit with floating amphibious bottoms manufactured by Sunland-Kori Services, headquartered in Louisiana. He also fit two of the excav

When crews for Haywire Point, wetland mitigation specialists in Grand Rapids, Minn., went to work with their new customized excavator, it took owner Steve Gilbertson less than a minute to know he’d made the right choice in selecting the equipment manufacturer.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Gilbertson said. “In two seconds I knew we had the right equipment for the job. It was very evident we couldn’t be doing the job without it. We’re going places you can’t walk, we just go. It’s crazy. The operator said, ’I can’t believe you’re paying me to do this.’”

The job in northern Minnesota is what Gilbertson believes may one of the largest, if not the largest, wetlands mitigation projects in the country.

Decades ago, the wetlands were drained, likely to make way for farm land. Now, it is Haywire Point’s task to restore what man messed up.

“I do business with Ecosystems Investment Partners, a private equity fund that specializes in wetland mitigation all over the U.S.” said Gilbertson. “This is the third mitigation bank I’ve built for them in Minnesota. This is a 23,000-acre site that we’re going in and restoring. It was all ditched out 100 years ago. We’re going back to restore those ditches to restore the hydrology that man screwed up.”

In order to do the job and do it safely, Gilbertson knew he couldn’t use standard equipment.

“It’s very wet,” Gilbertson said. “Conventional equipment could be used with mats, but it would be so slow. It would be crazy to use mats and it would still be dangerous. It’s more of a safety factor. You get in a peat bog, and you have burn outs that grow over. The machine could be underwater in seconds.”

He knew from spending time in Louisiana that what he needed was an excavator with a floating amphibious bottom. By the time Gilbertson bumped into Bob Cook, northwest territorial manager of Nortrax, the Grand Rapids John Deere dealer, in a local café,

“The whole deal was he knew what he wanted when he came here,” said Cook. “This job could not be done without this application. It was big and I guess that’s just my competitive nature. I wanted his business. I’ve done business with him on the past. I hate to lose. I just kept going back. Relationship and service is what keeps people buying.”

And it proved this time once again.

“I ended up going to John Deere because of the customer service and the fact that they could deliver on time,” said Gilbertson. “I couldn’t wait all summer for them to show up. As it was we had a month of fudge factor so I am very happy with that.”

Gilbertson bought four John Deere model 210G excavators, removed the standard track and had them fit with floating amphibious bottoms manufactured by Sunland-Kori Services, headquartered in Louisiana. He also fit two of the excavators with 50-ft. (15.2 m) sticks made by Jewell.

Now that the excavators are on the job, Gilbertson knows he can count on Nortrax to come through for him when he needs service.

“We’re a small town,” he said. “That’s our way of life up here. I know when I need something, I can get things accomplished.”