Superior Maintains Commitment to Quality with Link-Belt

Wed September 03, 2003 - Southeast Edition
Gini and Dan McKain

t’s imperative that a company be very honest in its dealings, diligent in the pursuit of its objectives, and production oriented.

“In other words, it must have a commitment to quality in everything it does. To accomplish this, it must employ personnel of the highest caliber. I am very proud to feel that we meet these criteria,” said the President-Treasurer of Superior Paving Inc., Willard R. Elsberry.

“Several years ago we made the decision to downsize our company in order to maintain our known level of quality. The one certainty in our industry is that it is going to change. A company also must be willing to change with it to remain successful,” he said.

The result of this commitment to maintaining quality demanded a realignment of some company priorities. There was an increased emphasis on site development and materials supply, as well as its asphalt paving operations. In order to accommodate this, it was deemed necessary to replace an older hydraulic excavator with a more modern one. This was done to meet the company’s present needs.

“We chose a new Link-Belt 330LX after thoroughly investigating what was currently available in the marketplace, and there are some very fine machines out there. It was a combination of the quality of the Link-Belt machine and the service offered by the dealer that tilted the scales. We had dealt with M. D. Moody & Sons in the past and were fully cognizant of their reputation for quality. Our primary need was for an excavator with the duty-cycle capability and dependability to stand up to the hostile Florida conditions in which it would be used. Long hours under a hot sun excavating an abrasive material can take a toll on a less sturdy machine,” commented Vice President Sandy Charrette.

An example of this is a contract where Superior has to supply a quarter-million yards of Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Class A-3 select fill. Crews are excavating the material from a company-owned 10-acre (4 ha) borrow pit near Lake Wales. The client is Cherry Hill Construction Company, the general contractor who holds the contract to widen U.S. Route 60 from its existing two lanes to a four-lane divided highway.

“In the old days, we would have done this project with a dragline to excavate the pit and stockpile the material. From there, we would have used a rubber tired front-end loader to rehandle the material and outload the trucks. Today’s technology demands greater speed, which translates into a reliable hydraulic excavator with a skilled operator to handle the material only once. The older method would have required approximately two thirds more time than we can now do it. Today’s method also requires one less machine and operator. That’s a significant cost savings,” said Elsberry.

“We are very fortunate that we have a contingent of men and women who can stand up to the pressure. They are honest, hard working, experienced individuals who work well as a close-knit team that we know we can depend on. That says a lot about their collective qualities,” added Charrette.

The operators on Superior Paving’s crew seem to really like the company’s new machine.

“I’ve had about 17 years’ experience as an equipment operator, starting on my daddy’s dragline. I can tell you that this new Link-Belt is one of the best of the new excavators. It’s got speed, reach, power and comfort,” said Brian Rathburn. “The machine is equipped with a 60-in. wide, 3-cu.-yd. Geith bucket made especially for the type of sand the company is working in. At its wettest, the sandy material can weigh up to 3,000 lbs. per cu. yd.

“The duty cycle is the important thing out here. We are working 10 to 11 hours, six days a week and sometimes more. When I climb down out of the cab at the end of the night and at the end of the workweek, I know I’ve been there. But it would have been far worse on many other machines I’ve been on,” he explained.

Rathburn continued, “The controls on this Link-Belt 330LX are fingertip easy and the armrests are just right to avoid operator fatigue. The visibility is great. I can see where I am digging, lifting and where I am dumping. That’s a good safety feature. There are no blind spots, even from the boomside window. I know if someone comes walking or driving up where they shouldn’t be.

“My average duty-cycle time is about a minute and a half for the smaller off-road, all-wheel drive machines. The larger ones, carrying up to 40 tons, take a little longer. I can load these trucks that are using a private haul road a little heavier. The overage spills right here where a loader can pick it up and load it out later. In both instances, I try to position the Link-Belt to where I make no more than a 90-degree swing, less if possible,” he commented.

According to Rathburn, “I only have about five off-road trucks to load right now, and we’re sort of coasting at about 3,000 yards a day. The contractor is still working comparatively close to the pit. Soon however, Cherry Hill will be adding more trucks as they work out further from here. Then we’ll really get busy. Our schedule is to eventually load out between 5,000 and 6,000 yds. a day. But this Link-Belt can handle that, too.”

Superior Paving Inc. was founded in 1957, by A. P. “Pat” Bolton, the owner of MacAsphalt Co., a premier asphalt company in the state of Florida. Bolton was, at that time, seeking a method of rewarding long time employees for their service. “At that time, I was a certified public accountant. I became acquainted with and eventually went to work for him as part of the management team of the new corporation that he formed. It was a vehicle for the employees benefit,” said Elsberry.

Elsberry was named president of the company in 1965, and has held that position ever since. “When the demographics and the attitude of employees changed, the company did too. The crews wanted to spend more time at home with their families. It became increasingly more difficult to find paving crews willing to be away from home for weeks at a time,” he added.

Bolton retired in 1971, and eventually, MacAsphalt merged into Ashland Oil Co. and later became a division of APAC. “The name MacAsphalt will cease to exist as of the beginning of 2003,” continued Elsberry.

Charrette noted, “The bottom line for Superior Paving was that, in comparing apples to apples and [fittingly enough] oranges to oranges, the new Link-Belt 330LX was the best machine that we could buy. And M. D. Moody & Sons delivered it when they said they would once again demonstrating that commitment to service and quality.”

For more information, call 859/245-3900.

(This article appears courtesy of Link-Belt.)