The 718 is ideal to feed the chipper all the dismantled trees.
When Derek Oneppo's Sennebogen 718 arrived at Warwick Tree Service Inc. just over a year ago, he wasn't really sure what to do with it. In fact, he had been skeptical of the big tree care handler from the outset.
"It cost as much as a mid-size crane," he pointed out. "For what I'm putting into the equipment, I have to know what I'm getting out of it. And we know what we can do with a crane."
Today, that machine is earning up to four times what his typical crews bring in, every day, according to Oneppo.
Warwick Tree Service has been serving the state of Rhode Island and the region nearby for 40 years. The company carries an impressive fleet of equipment, including bucket trucks, four cranes, skidsteers and low-boy trailers.
When Oneppo and his son Kyle attended the TCI conference in Charlotte, N.C., the previous year, the younger man took in a live demonstration of the 718, staged at the nearby Sennebogen head office. Kyle then persuaded his father that this was the right machine for a large tree-clearing project they wanted to take on.
But then, the project it was intended for never materialized. Apart from a few stints loading a grinder on the Warwick property, the 718 sat idle for the better part of two months.
People came to watch Kyle working. With its reach and elevating cab, Kyle can "see" over the house.
A Change of Plan
"Then Kyle started pushing to take it out on his residential jobs. He'd have a bucket truck crew out taking down trees, then he'd tell me, ‘I could have done that job with the Sennebogen.' Day after day. Finally, I said OK, take it."
The 718 was loaded onto the firm's low-bed trailer. The driver dropped off Kyle and the machine at the job site and would circle back later to take him to the next job. But just 30 minutes later, Kyle was calling to say, "Hey, come and pick me up — I need you to take me to the next one." And an hour later, he was back on the phone: "Come on, I need you again."
So now Oneppo sends Kyle and the 718 out with their own low-bed and a dedicated tractor.
"He'll make as many as five stops in a day," Oneppo said. "We use it for our day-to-day residential jobs where we would have otherwise used a crane or bucket truck. We just do it a heck of a lot faster and more jobs in one day."
Despite the 718's slow start, and a slow economy, Oneppo said that his company has had a very good year. Kyle's crew of four, alone, went from earning $3,000/day in revenue, up to $10,000 to $12,000 a day, with the same crew.
"The difference is that machine," Oneppo said. "The cost of payments on the machine looks like a lot on paper, but you can make it back, easily, in one day of work."
The operator has flexibility to work around the power line without any concern.
Mobile Service in Tight Neighborhoods
Weighing in at 47,180 lbs. (21,400 kg) with its 43 ft. telescoping boom and grapple saw, the 718 is compact enough to travel on city streets without special permits. Rhode Island is a small, densely populated state, so the 718's mobility is ideal, logistically, for moving the equipment around to do multiple jobs in a day.
"Sometimes it's a little difficult to get that tractor around in some of these denser neighborhoods. So then they might park a mile down the road and just drive the 718 in from there," Oneppo said.
Having learned on the job, Kyle Oneppo is now a highly proficient 718 operator. Sennebogen has been referring prospects to Warwick to watch Kyle perform with his machine.
"All my good machine operators now are the young ones," Oneppo said. "They make more money, they can work smarter and they're in a comfortable environment with climate control. And they just seem to be better at it — they understand it."
Sometimes they have to drive the 718 to the job from the trailer.
Versatility and Safety
Oneppo himself is now one of the 718's biggest fans.
"Sennebogen customers like to watch Kyle work because they want to see someone who knows what they're doing, to see what the machine can really do," he said. "Not just from the roadway or in these wildfire sites: they want to see us taking down a tree in someone's front yard, around power lines, five inches from the house. It's not just for the guys who do big highway projects. This could be used by the guy who just has a bucket crew who wants to make more money or have an opportunity to grow. For him, this machine is incredible."
"The 718 increases job site safety too," he said. "You don't have a guy up in the tree, cutting with a chain saw. You don't have a guy underneath the tree, lowering pieces on ropes. You can work it in the rain, in the snow, whether it's hot or cold outside, you still work at the same rate of speed."
According to Oneppo, the 718 is a great salesman for Warwick's tree removal business.
"When we're on a job, it attracts attention from neighbours. Kyle, he's really good with people and not afraid to work until 6 or 7 at night… so if the neighbor asks for, say, three trees, he's going to do it right then and there, while he's on the spot. It's worth another half a day, but it's done in 30 minutes."
Once the tree is dismantled, they can stack the wood neatly.
Sennebogen and its local dealer, Tyler Equipment, have impressed Oneppo as much as the 718 has.
"After 1,100 machine hours, I had my first real breakdown on a recent Tuesday. It was 5:00 in the afternoon. The pin for the rotator on the sawhead sheared right off. I called Tyler Equipment and they reached out to Charlotte, and they had the part to us by 8:30 the Wednesday morning. That was a 500 lb. part. I'm amazed that they could get it to us that fast. It's been a good experience."
Looking ahead, Oneppo is expecting his next purpose-built tree care handler early spring. This will make Warwick one of the first owners of the new Sennebogen 728.
"These machines are the future," Oneppo said. "We can do a lot with this first machine, but the 728 will allow us to do just that much more. It has another 19 ft. of reach, more capacity and it's still trailerable. Plus, it works at the same rate of speed."
He and Kyle will use the 728 to expand their business.
"We'll try to use it more on utility work. For that, you need to maintain 10 ft. of clearance above the conductor. The 728 will let us keep that clearance as we start dismantling the tree above the wire, then finish the process below the wire. It has the reach to go up and take smaller pieces to bring down easily and safely."
For more information, visit www.sennebogen-na.com.
This story also appears on Forestry Equipment Guide.
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