(L-R): Hal, Alescia and Brian Pierce pose with one of the trucks displaying their John Deere fleet at work. The Pierce Builders family includes 30 employees in Granby, Conn., and Westfield, Mass.
A venerable Connecticut dairy farm has some big plans and is enlisting the help of a respected contractor and a sizable fleet of John Deere equipment.
Adolph Bahler, an Illinois native, moved to Connecticut in the late 1800s to pursue his dream of starting his own farm. That dream came to life when he purchased a farm in Connecticut and began raising dairy cattle and growing potatoes and tobacco under the name of Bahler Farm.
By the early 1900s, the farm was being managed by second-generation family members John and Gottfried Bahler, who began to expand the farm by purchasing land and farms in surrounding towns.
At that time, they decided to phase out of crop production and transitioned the farm into mostly dairy production.
By the 1950s, Bahler Farm was being managed by the third-generation family members, Ken, Owen and Corbin Bahler. The farm was then milking 60 dairy cows in Ellington, Conn., and 40 cows in Tolland, Conn.
In the 1970s, fourth-generation family members Vern, Ron, Dave, Glenn and Dan Bahler were managing Bahler Farm. They decided to add Oakridge Farm, which was located at 33 Jobs Hill Road, Ellington, Conn., into the operations of Bahler Farm.
In 2015, Bahler Farm and Oakridge Farm merged to form Oakridge Dairy LLC. Since then, Oakridge Dairy spent an entire year visiting and researching other dairy farms throughout the United States in order to collaborate a plan to create a more efficient, modern farm; which lead to the decision to further expand Oakridge Dairy by building a multi-million dollar facility, which includes a 350,000-sq.-ft. free style barn that will have the capacity to hold 3,000 cattle, and a rotary milking parlor that will have the ability to milk 66 cows at one time in 10-minute intervals, and an impressive 30 million gallon manure lagoon that is more than 700 ft. long and 30 ft. deep.
Oakridge Dairy is striving to create a transparency between the public and the dairy business. It wants to educate the public on what goes on behind the scenes during the daily operations of the dairy farm, so people are not only informed on how the business operates, but exactly where their milk and produce come from, how farmers care for the environment, and also the quality of care that their animals receive. To do so, Oakridge is now scheduling public tours (For more information, visit www.oakridgedairy.com.)
Turning a Dream Into Reality
Oakridge Dairy could not accomplish this vision on its own, and it will take a crew of different contractors to turn this into a reality.
Oakridge Dairy contracted Pierce Builders, owned by brothers Hal and Brian Pierce and located in Granby, Conn., for the land clearing and site work for the project. The scope of this project requires an extensive fleet of equipment to move an average of 10,000 cu. yds. (9.144 cu m) of earth, per day.
Pierce Builders uses John Deere equipment, some of which includes an 844K loader (named “Sandy”) that is operated by Hal's wife, Alescia. Other John Deere equipment in the Pierce Builders fleet includes 300D and 370E articulated trucks, 380G excavators, an 850K dozer and the brand new 1050K dozer.
“We're able to do what we do because of the machines and support from John Deere,” said Hal Pierce. “I've owned these machines for years and have had very little problems with any of my purchases.
“Our dealer rep, Greg Hurlburt, with W.I. Clark Company, has been great at helping us get the most out of the machines through uptime services like JDLink and TopCon Solutions. For example, my fleet of JD articulated trucks on this site, and all of my sites, allow us to weigh and track exactly how much earth we are moving in each load. Our JD equipment, which is all equipped with TopCon GPS technology, allows us to survey all of our own job sites ourselves without hiring a third party surveyor. Our JD dozers and excavators, which are also equipped with TopCon technology, allows our operators to flawlessly clear and grade the land with more efficiency and more production than ever before.”
Using Deere Products, Working With W.I. Clark
“I have nothing but good things to report,” Pierce said. “They really work together with their customers.
“We enjoy a great relationship with W.I. Clark Company. They have been first rate when it comes to helping us get the most from our John Deere equipment through uptime services like JDLink, and helping us select and finance the machines that will grow with our business.
“We like to know exactly what's going on with the equipment and materials on our job site. I've even counted cycles with a stop watch because that's what it took to be certain we can live up to our promises when bidding a project. JDLink tracks all machine activity at any point in time, anywhere I am. I look at my iPad and see what time each machine starts in the morning; how many loads it moves during the day; how much material was moved for the fuel that was burned; and if a machine is idling too long and what needs to be done to correct the situation.
“JDLink has positively impacted our bottom line. I can go to the office or home at night and see how many tons we've moved and how much tonnage we can move a day, week, month, or year from now. We use it to reconcile our accounting and billing and we can confirm the exact amount of material we've moved at any time for our customers. When you're moving a million yards of material it's nice to have JDLink to double check before we send out an invoice.”
Taking Care of Business
When you're in the greater Hartford metro area, there's no missing Pierce Builders, its owners, or any of its 30 employees. The contractor's employees wear distinctive Pierce-red hats, shirts, jackets and turtlenecks. They provide them with matching red business cards, pens, and notebooks.
The company's fleet of red trucks, however, features another color in its vinyl graphic vehicle wraps — John Deere yellow.
“We've always taken great care of our equipment because it takes great care of us,” Hal Pierce said. “To my thinking each piece in our fleet is a rolling business card — so we wash each of them every day to hopefully place this thought in our current and potential customers heads: If I hire Pierce Builders, they are going to treat my project with the respect they give their own fleet.”
Pierce Builders is Connecticut's premier contractor for dirt work, water and sewer lines, as well as the supplier of site work, commercial renovations, quality commercial buildings, full scale commercial moving services, and custom built homes and additions.
For more information on Pierce Builders Inc. visit www.piercebuildersinc.com.
W.I. Clark Company
The W.I. Clark Company carries John Deere, Hamm, Vogele, Wirtgen, Doppstadt, Hitachi, Kleemann, LeeBoy, Montabert and Eager Beaver products for all of Connecticut, western Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
For more information on the W.I. Clark Company, visit www.wiclark.com.