Preserving Arlington Memorial Bridge

R.C. Hawkins Uses Compact Fleet for Erosion Control

Tue April 10, 2007 - Southeast Edition
CEG



Looking to take control of more business? The erosioncontrol market just might be your ticket.

Under the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Phase II requirements, which protect water quality from the impact of construction activities, property owners are required to install erosion and storm-water controls such as drainage grading, check dams, silt fences and vegetative buffers.

Recent efforts to step up enforcement of Phase II rules mean that the number of these money-making opportunities will only continue to grow.

John Deere compact machines — including skid steer loaders, compact track loaders and compact excavators — are able to assist in erosion-control work.

That’s especially true on job sites too small for a backhoe to run efficiently. And in this day and age, who really wants to resort to backbreaking, time-consuming handwork?

With nearly 100 Worksite Pro attachments available, John Deere compact machines can handle almost any task associated with installing erosion controls, including laying sod, clearing brush, digging postholes, creating trenches for irrigation lines, lifting pallets of retaining-wall blocks, or transplanting trees.

R.C. Hawkins of Catlett, Virginia, bills $11 million on erosion control and restoration projects each year. The company owns a massive fleet of John Deere CTLs — 24 CT322s and CT332s in all.

“They go right through soft and wet ground,” said President and CEO Mike Hawkins. “They’re very versatile — you can load, dig, grade and haul with them. And because they’re compact, they save on handwork and are easy to maneuver around fragile structures. Plus we don’t need big trailers to haul them around.”

In addition to erosion control, R.C. Hawkins does land development, fine grading and demolition work in northern Virginia.

The company employs 167 people, working on as many as 40 jobs at any given time.

The company’s arsenal of attachments includes buckets, forks, trenchers, augers, planers and rock-hounding attachments.

“The universal Quik-Tatch really saves us time,” Hawkins said. “Operators can quickly switch tools without having to worry about breaking off pins or handles.”

Brand New Fleet

R.C. Hawkins traded in its old fleet for the new John Deere CTLs.

“About every month one would come due, and we’d spend $5,000 to $7,000 replacing the tracks. On the Deere, the tracks last significantly longer, and they’re not as complex to maintain or service.”

Hawkins likes the smooth, precise, low-effort steering controls.

“On the Deere, you control one track with one hand and the other track with the other hand, which gives you a much better feel,” he said.

Hawkins also appreciates the CTL’s best-in-class stability.

“Deere CTLs have a low center of gravity and wider tracks, so you don’t feel like you’re going to flip over carrying sod or dumping material onto a stoop that’s nine feet in the air,” he said.

R.C. Hawkins owns a number of other John Deere compact machines, including skid steer loaders and compact excavators.

“The mini excavators are great for getting in and out of yards while doing minimal damage,” Hawkins said. “With their compact size, they can fit in between houses with soffits and tight setbacks. And they’re great for digging out or planting trees. Beats the heck out of using a shovel.”

Above all, Hawkins appreciates the durability and uptime of John Deere machines. “John Deere simply makes good, dependable equipment,” he said. “They’re much beefier compared to the other machines out there. You know they are going to fire up as soon as you hit the key. And if a machine doesn’t fire up, someone will be right over to fire it up for you. There’s usually someone pulling in before you hang up the phone.”

R.C. Hawkins is serviced by James River Equipment in Manassas, Va.