Equipment Roundup: The Best Moneymakers of 2019

The equipment, septic components and technology installers relied on the most last year

Equipment Roundup: The Best Moneymakers of 2019

David White and his son Taylor are shown with a 257D2 Caterpillar skid-steer, Western Star tandem dump truck, Volvo tandem dump truck, Komatsu 450 wheel loader, Komatsu 170 excavator and John Deere 450 dozer.

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The right knowledge, skills and experience is crucial to success in the onsite installation business, but all the expertise in the world gets you nowhere if you don’t have efficient, reliable equipment to execute the work. 

Here, installers we featured this year talk about some of the products and equipment they rely on daily. What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

David White, Ken White Construction

Carp, Ontario

Favorite piece of equipment: That would be my 170 Komatsu excavator. We are able to complete a lot of our jobs with this one piece of equipment. This is true for septic systems and a lot of our site jobs. It is versatile and allows us to work more efficiently. It also becomes more cost-effective for us when we don’t have to float in multiple pieces of equipment to complete a job.

Garth Millan, JAB Site & Wastewater Solutions

Hornby Island, British Columbia

Favorite piece of equipment: My 1981 single-axle Mack gravel truck. It has a 10-yard aluminum gravel box. It’s a workhorse, just never gives up. It’s small enough to get into the smallest yards and large enough to carry 10 yards of light material or five or six of heavier materials. It’s known throughout the region. Everybody says, “Oh, you’re the one with the little red Mack.”

Ned Lang, Enviroventures

Narrowsburg, New York

Favorite piece of equipment: I really enjoy excavators. We’ve got a John Deere 590, John Deere 27, Caterpillar 312 and Komatsu 75. They’re just fun to operate. You can do so many things. The smaller ones have blades on them so you can grade a whole lot easier. They can do so much work in tight places. It just makes your life a lot easier.

Peter Schmitz, Schmitz Excavating

Monticello, Minnesota

For spreading stone in a drainfield, Peter Schmitz has a conveyor that attaches to his truck. On a new construction site like Camp Manitou the conveyor is useful. When he’s working at someone’s home, it’s even more useful because stone isn’t dumped on a customer’s grass or driveway, it isn’t scattered over the ground as the system is being installed and technicians aren’t cleaning up dirty stone with a loader bucket.

Josh Melanson, Dirtwerx

Langley, British Columbia

I carry a notebook with me at all times, and on a daily basis, I capture a list of activities that have to happen that day, and I physically cross them off when they’re done. As you mark that off, it frees your mind. It’s terribly unsexy for a guy who’s been in technology his whole career. I’ve tried all of those apps, from Evernote to To Do List to notes in my phone — boy, there’s something about the paper notebook. It’s very simple. It’s very tactile.

Justin Haynes, Southland Septic Service

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Favorite piece of equipment: Our latest vacuum truck. It is very powerful and set up just right — simple, but very effective. It’s a 2006 Peterbilt with a 5,000-gallon U.S. Tanks Industry steel tank and Jurop/Chandler pump with all sorts of bells and whistles — jake brakes, tag axle, full-locking rear-end differentials, LED lights all the way around, flotation fronts, 4-inch intake valve on the front of the tank so I can pump from the front of the truck (super handy), and heated valves.

Gary Pinkas, Bradford Septic Tank Co.

West Palm Beach, Florida

Favorite piece of equipment: My overall favorite is the Terralift ground-fracturing machine. I call it my chitty-chitty bang bang. I bought it when I first heard about it about 30 years ago. It can save a customer thousands of dollars by rescuing a drainfield when an impervious biomat layer develops when a drainfield is fairly young. Now that the code requires multichambered tanks and outlet filters, I don’t see much of that kind of failure, which is a good thing. But in years past, the Terralift gave homeowners who had unknowingly abused their septic system a second chance.

Jason Holtvogt, Holtvogt Sand and Gravel

Humboldt, Saskatchewan

Favorite piece of equipment: My excavator — I use it for everything. It’s a Case CX210. The industry has changed a lot, going from using backhoes to excavators, which have become the most versatile piece of equipment we now have. When dad started in 1974, he had one backhoe and would consistently put on 4,000 hours a year. Right now, it’s maybe 250 hours a year. Excavators were very uncommon then. There are probably no contractors around here able to make a living on one backhoe today.


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