David Hicks of David Hicks Construction, Hayden, Ala., competed in this challenge and admitted he hadn't been in an operator competition since one held by Thompson Tractor back in the late 1990s. He conceded that the machines have come a long way with a whole lot more comfort and a whole lot more technology for performance, as well as being a whole lot more operator-friendly.
"All I own is Cat equipment and Thompson Tractor has really taken care of me," Hicks added.
"As a matter of fact, my dad worked for them some time ago and that's where I got my love for Cat machines. I think I'm up to 21 machines in my fleet now and my highway trucks run Cat engines as well."
More than 70 highly skilled and "seasoned" operators registered for this challenge, and as the Alabama summer heat went up, so did the level of the competition. When all was said and done, the overall winners of the Thompson Tractor Central & North Alabama Operator Challenge were: 1st place Jonathan Hagood; 2nd place Jonathan Poole; and 3rd place Kelly Childers. CEG
Doing a phenomenal job of stacking tires in the Cat 259D compact track loader challenge is Kelly Childers of Carmeuse Quarry, Saginaw, Ala.
Thompson Tractor’s Matt Blakely keeps time as David Collier, Blount County (Ala.) Commission (operating) makes a run at the Fully Loaded challenge.
David Hicks (L) of David Hicks Construction, Hayden, Ala., and his old friend Charlie Stevens, Thompson Tractor’s vice president of sales, reminisce about an equipment competition from over 20 years ago where Hicks was a competitor and Stevens was in charge of that competition in the Thompson marketing department.
SITECH South always comes out to these events with their best Trimble technology displays and lots of support from their staff (L-R) including Greg Gay, Randy White, Ed Upchurch, Stephen Miraglia and Chris Sanders.
The crowd of participants watch each run to formulate their plan for attacking each challenge.
SITECH South’s Chris Sanders checks for accuracy at three points to make sure a contestant has achieved their grade in the excavator event.
After practice rounds, Thompson Tractor’s Charlie Stevens provides a few announcements and gives the official air-horn start for timed and scored competitions.
Cat machine displays were around the property, including this Land Management Cat 299D2 XHP with 100M forestry mulching head.
Another contestant kicks up some dust on a run through the dozer course operating a Cat D5K2 XL.
(L-R): Dustin Pitts, Brian Pitts and Alex Thrash of Pitts Excavating & Hauling, Bessemer, Ala., came to the competition ready to go head-to-head with other operators from North Alabama.
Woodard Brothers Grading based in Anniston, Ala., brought a huge team of operators to the event (L-R) including Jonathan Poole, Preston Woodard, Caleb Woodard, Phillip Woodard, Jeff Woodard and Bryan Woodard.
Danny Page (in cab) of the Alabama Surface Mine Commission gets complete instructions on the Cat 320 excavator challenge from Clayton Walley, Thompson Tractor certified dealer instructor.
Matt Payne (L) and David Ginn of Goodgame Company, Pell City, Ala., get prepared to tackle the Cat D5K2 XL dozer challenge.
James Geeslin (L) of Thompson Tractor’s Birmingham, Ala., location watches as PJ Phillips of Alabama Coal Cooperative, Parish, Ala., does a practice run on the Cat 300.9D mini-excavator golf challenge.
Kevin Moro (far R), Thompson Tractor technical services manager, goes over the rules of the Fully Loaded event with a group of registered contestants.
Eugene Mealing Jr., Thompson Tractor certified Cat dealer operator/task trainer provides operating tips to a challenge participant.
Ricky Posey (R) of the Rogers Group, Tuscumbia, Ala., gets a warm welcome to the event from Thompson Tractor’s Ty Hunt.
Enjoying the day’s activities and having a few laughs before making a run at the motor grader challenge are Gene Massey (L) and Chad Price (R) of Vulcan Materials Company, Gurley, Ala., with Thompson Tractor’s certified dealer instructor Jeff Smith.