Mike Elliott, Mark Rutland and Dick Nelson founded Pile Equipment Inc., Green Cove Springs, Fla., as three equal partners in January 1987. The company was founded to rent, sell and repair pile-driving equipment after Mississippi Valley Equipment (MVE), for whom the three all worked, was leaving the area. The partners bought out MVE’s interests in Florida and went into business for themselves.
Pile Equipment started out representing MKT of St. Louis and Vulcan Iron Works of Chattanooga, Tenn. Shortly after Pile Equipment replaced MKT and Vulcan for Hydraulic Power Systems Inc., Kansas City, Mo., (Hydraulic vibratory hammers and augers) and Pileco, Houston, Tex. (Delmag Diesel hammers). It continues to represent HPSI and Pileco products in the southeast United States.
In 1997 Dick Nelson passed away, leaving Elliott and Rutland to continue as business partners.
Also that year, Pile Equipment developed its own line, Pilemaster Air Hammers. The line was upgraded in 2002 and is available for rent and for sale internationally.
There are five Pilemaster models, ranging in ram weight from 900 to 5,000 lbs. (408 to 2,267 kg) and hammer weight from 2,300 to 10,400 lbs. (1,043 to 4,717 kg). By replacing the standard base with pants these hammers also will drive sheet piling.
Working out of a single location, the company offers service throughout the Southeast United States on vibratory, impact hammers, augers and jet pumps. Keeping primarily to within an eight-hour drive of the office, Pile Equipment easily serves North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
“Our group of 13 people, helps our customers size equipment for the application and is well versed in its use and maintenance. Rentals are a large part of what we do, but we also sell equipment, stock parts and perform service,” said Elliott.
According to Elliott, Pile Equipment’s customers vary widely and includes contractors that build: bridges, sea walls, bulkheads, cruise terminals, residential and commercial buildings, towers, docks, signs or anything that requires a pile foundation from small to large.
“Hayward Baker, for example, had a job working on a big sinkhole in the phosphate mines. They would drill down 400 to 450 feet on heavy batters, [steep angles]. Then they pumped grout to seal the area and had to pull the pipe,” Elliott explained. “They can’t pull the pipe out with a crane because there is too much friction, so we made a special rig using a vibratory hammer and leads that grab a special top plate that screws into the pipe.
This way, they can get the pipe out of the hole. What makes this unique is the angle of 45 degrees or more.
That angle makes it difficult to mount the vibratory hammer in leads and still maintain adequate life of the bearings, so we had to figure out a method for doing that.
“Our group has been doing this long enough that our experience level is high. We believe that we don’t need to worry about our competitors if we worry about our customers. We are about service, service, service. If we ensure that the equipment leaves our facility ready to work, tested the way it will be used and service problems quickly, that makes a would-be one-time customer a repeat customer,” stated Elliott.
Pile Equipment takes pride in the number of long-term employees it has on staff. Rick Farmer, vice president and shop foreman has been with the company since the beginning in 1987. Two of the mechanics have been there for 15 years each. The sales manager, Mike Roberts, has more than 10 years in the company. Mark Rutland, in addition to being one of the founders of the company, has 30 years of industry experience and Mike Elliott has 37 years.
But neither Elliott nor Rutland are finished gaining experience and Pile Equipment’s future is based on looking for new opportunities.
“The way we see it, there are only three ways for us to grow, and those are to increase our market share, represent more products or add to our territory. We’re looking at all options and like everyone, continue to increase market share. We do a little in Puerto Rico already but want to do more in the Caribbean,” Elliott concluded. CEG
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