When the U.S. stock market plunged a whopping 508 points in October 1987, many business owners feared the construction market would be largely impacted. But one aspiring entrepreneur was not the least bit worried: Jim Linhart.
That same year he opened the doors to Linhart Construction, an Omaha, Nebraska-based commercial and residential retaining wall business, with only a 1967 pickup, a skid-steer loader and a borrowed wheelbarrow.
“I had worked for my father for several years before starting my business, so I knew what hard work was like,” Linhart says.
For the first five years, that meant 12-hour days, seven days a week, building concrete and brick patios with the help of a couple full-time employees.
“Starting my own construction business was difficult and demanding, but it was one of the best things I could have done for myself.”
Today the company employs more than 30 full-time employees and completes some of Omaha’s largest retaining wall projects, including laying 350,000 square feet of paving brick at ConAgra Foods Inc. corporate headquarters; installing 126,000 square feet of retaining walls for the State of Nebraska; and building retaining walls and installing brick and stone as part of the 2-mile-long Dodge Street overpass project.
Business Growth Drives Equipment Buying
Over the years, Linhart upgraded from a borrowed wheelbarrow to a small fleet of heavy and compact equipment. When he was looking to buy a new loader to help complete residential retaining wall projects, he went straight to his Bobcat equipment dealer.
After demoing a T595 compact track loader, Linhart was so impressed with the machine’s increased horsepower and performance that he purchased four more T595s on the spot. With a 2,200-pound rated operating capacity and improved lift force, Linhart was confident the T595 would be able to efficiently move and carry more material than other compact loaders.
“We’ve been using our five T595s every day,” he says. “I’ve been very impressed with the machine’s power, performance, comfort and dependability while on the jobsite. My crew consistently works on seven to eight projects at a time, so I need all of my equipment in working order.”
Efficient operation is key to Linhart’s success and is another reason he chose the T595 compact track loader versus other equipment brands. “Rubber tracks allow us to go more places, which is great in our line of business,” he says. “We are able to work well in sandy conditions as well as drive across concrete and curbs when working in residential areas without damaging surfaces.”
Horsepower and Performance
Linhart’s appreciation for horsepower and performance doesn’t end with equipment. He counts collecting and restoring classic cars among his hobbies and says allowing time for outside interests keeps him and his employees happy. It’s another crucial element to his success. “If you can’t spend it, why are you going to work so hard?” he says.
His car collection ranges from the first car he ever owned — a 1969 Dodge Super Bee — to a first-of-its-kind Richard Petty Mustang. “It’s the first one he ever made. It only has 75 miles on it and Richard Petty drove the first 70 miles,” Linhart says.
His latest restoration project is a 1956 Chevy, but his true passion is Corvettes. “I’ve had a Corvette since I was 16 years old,” he says.
A custom-designed RV is proof that Linhart takes time away from the office, even if it’s only a few days at a time. Watch the video below to hear how he balances his personal pastime with a busy season that often requires six-day work weeks, and take a tour of his impressive car collection.