Lounging on a seawall, an iguana takes in some rays as the hot Florida sun blankets canalside properties. Palm trees sway in the hazy heat. The hum of a yacht grows louder as it heads up the waterway before docking at a nearby home. Only the roar of a Bobcat mini excavator remains.
Dave Wayt lifts bucketful after bucketful of dirt, prepping for the installation of 1,000 feet of 6-inch drainage pipe. The system will move stormwater from the luxury property down into the canal on the lot’s border. In the coming days and months, Dave and his company’s four-person crew will also dig and then backfill the future home’s sanitary and electric systems as well as prep for a driveway, cabana, pool and spa.
Operating a Bobcat mini excavator on the water
What would be a dream job for many is A&D Excavation Services’ year-round specialty. The Deerfield Beach-based company provides site development work for high-end coastal and waterfront homes, including digging plumbing and electrical lines, prepping for landscaping, and cutting driveways.
Dave, owner of A&D, says site development is a competitive line of work in the southeastern Florida community near Miami. Maintaining relationships with custom builders over the years and owning both compact and heavy equipment helps the company stand out from the competition, Dave says, which is how they came up with their slogan – “a grade above the rest.” “It was my philosophy to be a one-stop shop,” Dave says. “I kind of got a niche.”
In 1988, after completing a local union apprenticeship program, Dave joined his business partner’s company, which launched in 1982. At that time, A&D owned a pair of Bobcat 743B skid-steer loaders and focused on small grading projects, like concrete slabs and landscaping. But over the years, the company began to increase both the quantity and size of its equipment in order to expand its offerings. Today, A&D can complete a full range of site development services for custom-home builders – from groundbreaking to completion – and will return to a particular project dozens of times throughout the construction process to perform tasks. Each waterfront property takes a year to 18 months to complete.
“I have a piece of equipment for everything that my contractors would need,” Dave says of his decision to own both compact and heavy equipment.
For the past 30 years, A&D has been a one-brand company when it comes to their compact equipment fleet, which includes a Bobcat R-Series E35 mini excavator with an extendable arm, 331 mini excavator, two T190 compact track loaders and three S130 skid-steer loaders.
“The Bobcat brand is by far the best grading machine there is, and the new excavator is the best that I’ve ever run,” Dave says. “I’ve tried other brands, but they just don’t fit my needs. I always go and purchase Bobcat. The balance, the traction, the controls – it’s just the best grading machine to do fine-grade work.”
Waterfront lots are often narrow with tight passageways between property walls and homes. The relatively small size of Bobcat equipment lets Dave maneuver around on the jobsite no matter the stage of construction.
“I use the compact equipment 90 percent of the time after the structure is up,” Dave says. “Larger equipment won’t work; there’s not enough access.”
The E35 mini excavator, A&D’s newest machine, first caught Dave’s eye during a routine supply run last fall.
“I was at the dealership just picking up some supplies, and I saw one in the yard,” Dave says. “I said, ‘That is beautiful.’”
He purchased the Bobcat mini excavator after a two-day demo, and several months later, Dave has already put 500 hours on the machine.
Benefits of a mini excavator with an extendable arm
Most of the jobsites that A&D works on – 30 at any given time – are located in previously developed areas. In other words, for every new building that goes up, an existing house must first come down. Clearing the demolished structure as well as any problematic trees or shrubbery is often A&D’s first order of business when starting a new project. The E35 mini excavator makes that job easier, Dave says.
“I come in there and clean all that up, but since using this machine with the clamp, it’s a lot easier because you can just grab it and put it in a pile,” Dave says. “Then the skid-steer loader puts it in a dumpster.”
Dave says the extra reach of the Bobcat mini excavator with an extendable arm – more than 2 feet of additional reach and dig depth – creates a more efficient jobsite. The extendable arm enables Dave to move dirt farther away from the excavation site and to clear more working space – especially when it comes to deep drainage work. The hydraulic clamp, in turn, makes it easy to lift and move boards, bundles of steel and other materials, eliminating the need for additional equipment when space is tight.
“The extendable arm was something I wasn’t accustomed to, and once I started using it, it’s unbelievable what you can do with it,” Dave says.
Another perk of the machine is its in-cab pattern selector, which lets Dave and his crew members quickly switch back and forth between ISO and Standard control patterns to tailor the operating style to their specific preferences.
Dave also cites the four-point tie-down system on the E35 undercarriage as another time-saving advantage of his new machine. Because he’s moving back and forth to different jobsites on an almost daily basis, the minutes Dave saves with a more efficient system can add up quickly.
“Putting chains on each corner of your machine to tie it down – that’s easier,” Dave says. “You can be standing on the ground while you’re tying it down. You’re not standing on the trailer.”
Telematics in Bobcat mini excavator
Connected technology in Dave’s E35 Bobcat mini excavator allows his dealer, Bobcat of Broward County, to monitor the machine’s condition and to notify Dave of any mechanical issues or upcoming service intervals.
“It’s awesome,” Dave says. “They’ve called me a couple of times, and they’re like, ‘You’re due for your 50-hour service.’ I thought I only had 45 hours, and I look down and oh gosh, I got 52 hours.”
The notifications help Dave to look ahead and schedule service at a time that’s convenient with his busy calendar.
“[Before] we just had to remember and look at my hourly records of when it’s due for another service and figure out when I can get it in, but with the reminders, it’s real easy to make a spot on your schedule,” Dave says. “I get emails on my phone.”
The telematics in the Bobcat mini excavator also enabled Bobcat of Broward County to give Dave a heads-up when the E35 had a dead battery.
“They said, ‘We got a warning that the battery is low,’” Dave says. “They wanted to know if I needed any service. So I went up to the site, and sure enough the battery was dead. My guy had left the key on. I called [my dealer] to compliment them about that.”
The message from his dealer allowed Dave to get the battery charged before accruing too much downtime. Because A&D is involved in all stages of a property’s development, including cleanups throughout the job, staying productive is key for ensuring projects stay on schedule. Dave considers the technology a new partner for keeping his equipment and crew working hard and his customers happy.
“Invest in reliable equipment to decrease downtime, increase productivity and keep your customers happy,” Dave says. “Because if the customer is happy, I’m happy at the end of the day.”