Reaching Great Heights Through a Solid Foundation

Working excavator against a city skyline

The higher you want to go, the stronger the foundation you need. And the team at JR Hayes Corporation of Maple Valley, Washington, is playing a leading role in securing a solid start for the increasing number of high rises being built in the South Lake Union and Belltown neighborhoods of downtown Seattle. This second-generation, family-owned company got its start in the '60s hauling logs and has earned its solid reputation and growth because it's not afraid to take on a challenge.


These days challenges for the company range from plat development on what many would consider the sides of mountains, to deep-hole excavations in the heart of the city. "JR Hayes performs a wide variety of work," explains Tony Perrotti, general manager and the man responsible for renting, purchasing, and managing the company's 100-plus machine feet. Perrotti got his start with the company washing and servicing machines while in high school. After that he worked selling heavy equipment, which provided him the experience needed to excel in his current role.

"This season we're doing residential plat development, mixed-use commercial, industrial, public works, utilities, and an especially large amount of deep-hole excavations in downtown Seattle. That range of work coupled with Pacific Northwest weather, material challenges, and tight schedules means we need a variety of equipment to get the job done, and John Deere machines have been very versatile for us."


Running everything from mini- to production-class excavators, graders, scrapers, dozers, loaders, and trailers, there's no doubt Perrotti has a lot to look after. To make his job easier and the company more efficient, he's transitioned to a single-source supplier philosophy. "We used to buy a lot of different brands of equipment, which meant having multiple dealers," says Perrotti. "We switched to our local John Deere dealer, Papé Machinery, in 2006 and it's been a good program for us. It makes getting the parts we need and scheduling service much easier."


Ease of serviceability takes on even greater importance when you're in the heart of a metropolis digging up to 110 feet straight down. A series of stair towers is the only way in and out, making delivering oil and parts a time-consuming and difficult process.

"Reliability is such a big factor for us when we're in these deep-hole excavations," explains Perrotti. If that machine breaks it can cost $20–30,000 to lift it in and out, so it's very important to have reliable machines that will get to the bottom of the excavation."

To avoid potential complications, Perrotti takes advantage of John Deere's tradition of reliability. "The extended service intervals on the Tier 3 and new Final Tier 4 machines really help us out. I can trust the equipment won't break down before its job is done."

Another way Perrotti prevents costly downtime is by taking advantage of JDLink™, Deere's complete suite of telematics solutions designed to optimize workflow. "If there's an abnormal reading on a machine, my product support rep will contact me and the situation will be addressed. In the long run it helps because it prevents breakdowns."


In keeping with the tradition of the many who came before them, the team at JR Hayes saw the challenge of working in these unique conditions as an opportunity to innovate. Beginning in the '80s, the company was one of the first in the region to implement the use of conveyor belts during the excavation process, greatly adding to the depths they can reach. "We have belts ranging from 20- to 130-feet long, and will place up to three in a hole at once to reach the depth needed," says Perrotti.


With JR Hayes' move to a single-source supplier comes a unique challenge and opportunity for Papé Machinery. David O'Connor, territory manager for Papé, explains: "JR Hayes is demanding enough that if we can take care of them the way they like, our company and people will be better for it." And the hard work seems to be paying off. "We have a very good relationship with Papé on all levels," says Perrotti. "From owners on down to product support, the parts guys, my shop guys dealing with their shop — they're always stepping up to the plate and taking care of business."