April 10, 2015
In this part of God's Country, businesses shut down for deer season, every gas station has a bait shop, and each syllable you hear is colored by the strong and hard vowels of the local Wisconsin dialect. The people are grounded and easygoing—if you think you're too busy to take a moment to chat, you're probably not from around here. But that's cool. You're always welcome in Bloomer, home of A-1 Excavating and their fleet of 60 John Deere machines.
Brothers Todd and Terry Pecha bought A-1 in 1990 from their father, Archie, who started the company. Today they work together to run the business. Terry focuses on managing the company, while Todd handles the day-to-day issues and onsite logistics. When they bought the business from their father A-1 employed 13, and today the company has a staff of 140. Seems like "the boys" learned quite a bit while growing up.
Drawing the Line in the Sand
A-1 Excavating continues to provide grading, directional drilling, restoration work, trucking, hauling, and other services in addition to its core sewer and water business. Recently the company has diversified into mining silica sand for use in the oil and natural gas extraction technique called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," for short. Over the last few years, fracking has become one of the most economical options for efficiently extracting oil and gas, so the need for silica sand has increased dramatically. And Western Wisconsin is loaded with silica sand.
Currently, A-1 is being subcontracted to remove overburden from several of these mine sites—exposing the sand for extraction and processing. They started out working just one location, but their efficient and productive operations quickly led to additional opportunities in the sand-mining industry. The company has established its footing fueled solely by word-of-mouth referrals. That says a thing or two about the company's reputation.
A-1 operates the full gamut of John Deere equipment, including dozers, loaders, graders, excavators, and articulated dump trucks. Terry appreciates owning a reliable, rugged, and ready fleet. "We've been very pleased with John Deere—the relationship between A-1 and our dealer Nortrax is strong, with great communications. And, of course, we know we can rely on the Deere products' performance, serviceability, and reliability."
The relationship between the Pecha brothers and Nortrax began when they purchased their first John Deere 744J Loader. They were impressed with the loader, and even more so with the service from their dealer. "I've found the people at Nortrax to be second to none," says Terry. "I think they listen to their customers, and response time in getting back to us to deal with situations is very good. You feel like you have a partner in the business."
"Deere listens. I’ve experienced it firsthand."
A-1 welcomes John Deere product consultants onto their jobsites for recommendations on how to improve productivity while decreasing costs. "They note your concerns. It just seems like they're listening and responding to their customers' needs. And you notice a lot of those suggestions—the features you recommended in the past—are built into the new models."
A-1 has a fleet of over 20 John Deere crawler dozers, from 450s all the way up to the new 850Ks, and they're a hit with his crews. "I hate to use the term 'in love with them,' so let's say our operators are very, very happy with these crawlers. They're very productive, very reliable.
Getting the First Crack at the new E ADT
A-1 recently demoed a pre-production model of the new 410E Articulated Dump Truck to see how it stacked up with their fleet of 400D ADTs. Terry says the 410E really stands out as an innovative, well-designed truck that does a good job of addressing contractor needs. And that's not just talk. The Pechas were impressed enough to order six new E-Series trucks, to be delivered as soon as Deere could roll them off the production line.
Powered by People
Terry says those people are his biggest asset. "I'm very proud of all the people who work in our company," he explains. "Everybody's a good person. Everybody works hard. Everybody's loyal. You can count on them."
The 460E -- John Deere's Largest ADT Yet -- and its "Little Brothers"
With the new E-Series Articulated Dump Trucks, you don't have to go big or go home. You'll get big productivity and uptime from the 370E, 410E, or the 460E, with generous standard features, including:
- Powerful John Deere EPA Interim Tier 4 (IT4)/EU Stage IIIB diesel engines
- Automatic diesel particulate filter (DPF) cleaning doesn't affect machine productivity
- Purpose-built transmissions with eight forward and four reverse gears
- Full-time six-wheel drive
- Traction-boosting auto-diff lock
- Over-speed protection automatically ensures engine speed doesn't exceed preset limits
- Fans and coolers swing out for quick and easy cleaning