In September 2014, we announced Steve Klumker of Mancos, Colorado, as winner of the “What Makes You Unstoppable” contest commemorating the millionth Bobcat® loader milestone. In his essay, Steve described a special relationship with the iconic brand: “Over and over, I’ve proved to myself — and everyone who would listen — that my Bobcat loader is capable of unbelievable power. The combination of an excavator, loader and a small dump truck has gotten me into and out of nearly impossible, tight and restricted work areas where larger machines could not, or dared not go.”
We presented the grand prize — a special-edition Bobcat T650 compact track loader — in a surprise ceremony at Bobcat of Durango, his local dealership. Recently we caught up with Steve to visit about the experience, seated in the cab of his now year-old T650 compact track loader.
Bobcat: Tell us about the day you won.
Steve: Bobcat asked me to gather up some friends and family for the interview. The family was there, and there would have been a lot more had they known I was actually going to win (the event was billed as a “finalist interview”). Jim from Bobcat of Durango knew ahead of time and couldn’t tell me. The machine had arrived on his site, and he kept it hidden until the Bobcat crew arrived to interview me. I’ve had many people tell me they were moved to tears watching the video (of the award presentation).
Bobcat: Has winning provided some notoriety?
Steve: It was a great surprise when the story appeared in WorkSaver® and I was on the cover. To get on the front cover of WorkSaver magazine is like a rock star getting on the cover of Rolling Stone. It’s amazing. I have been stopped in airports and asked, “Aren’t you the guy who won the Bobcat loader?” Maybe they’ve recognized me from my large hat, which I’ve worn for 25 years. Even in our little town of Mancos, people have seen me washing my machine and ask, “Is that the millionth Bobcat machine?” When asked, I enjoy saying, “The payments are excellent.”
Bobcat: Tell us about your prize machine.
Steve: I’m sitting in it as we speak. I keep it polished up. My father-in-law said he thought I’d put it in the shop and not even use it. I told him, “You can’t make any money that way.” I gave him my old T190 to use on his date farm.
Bobcat: Does anyone else use it?
I’ve let two friends operate it, and I’ve let my wife in it. That’s about it.
Bobcat: Describe your business.
Steve: I do dirt. My wife does paper. We have two machines — a Bobcat excavator and the T650 compact track loader — and a dump truck. On some jobs, I hire other people to help if I need larger equipment. I own several attachments. I don’t go anywhere without my pallet fork and I have grapples and buckets.
Bobcat: Any new attachments on the horizon?
Steve: I’m really interested in the Brushcat™ rotary cutter attachment for (non-chemical) weed and brush control for fire prevention. My friend has an older one that I tried, but I’ve watched a video of the new one that I really like.
Bobcat: Tell us about your favorite Bobcat equipment.
Steve: In 2001, my dad and I bought one of the Bobcat 500K (half-millionth edition) “gold package” loaders, the first with factory air-conditioning. What a big difference. I don’t think I’ve been without air-conditioning ever since. Then we were operating eight loaders in Yuma, Arizona, with six different operators. A/C kept them in the field longer. They were comfortable so they kept working. It was an unbelievable jump in our business.
Bobcat: Any parting thoughts for us?
Steve: I know of at least five people who have gone into Bobcat equipment-related services after being affiliated with us. And they all have great businesses today. Doing what I do for customers has brought great joy to my life.