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Fall 2008

Operating Bobcat equipment becomes a passion

Husband-and-wife team builds successful construction business with compact machines

Working in a rental store allowed Chris Sabins to discover the many benefits of operating compact equipment and attachments. He used that knowledge when he and his wife, Lori, started their business, Dirt Plus, with a Bobcat® 773 skid-steer loader.

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Dependable Bobcat machines keep Sabins busy on commercial and residential jobsites.

Today, Dirt Plus owns five Bobcat machines — an A300 all-wheel steer loader, three T190 compact track loaders and a 435 compact excavator — and several attachments, including a grapple, mower, tree spade, buckets and pallet fork.

Chris Sabins learned how to operate a skid-steer loader with hand controls. When the time came to replace his 773, he purchased an A300 because of its standard joystick controls — not to mention its 3,000-pound rated lift capacity and all-wheel steer capability.

“The A300 is a very versatile machine because of its compact size, lifting abilities and minimal tire wear,” Sabins says. “We build retaining walls with stackable block material. The block arrives on pallets in cubes. We attach the pallet fork to the A300 and easily carry the blocks to where we need them.

“Having the all-wheel steer feature is great because it saves wear and tear on the rubber tires. We have a 2004 model that still has two original tires. We previously put new tires on our old 773 every year, because we wore them down driving on asphalt and concrete.”

Soil conditions call for compact track loaders

As Sabins’ business grew, so did the need for additional equipment. In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the home-building market in Jacksonville, Fla., was rapidly expanding. National builders called on Sabins for excavating and grading projects.

“When we started to get into the home-building business, we needed a smaller machine with rubber tracks because we were working in sandy soil and needed better traction,” Sabins says. “The ground conditions vary from jobsite to jobsite and from season to season here. We deal with sand, clay and dirt. The tracks are definitely what we need.”

Chris Sabins’ choice was a T190 compact track loader. “The houses are very close together; the T190s give us the ability to squeeze in between them on a zero lot line, and to get to the backyards and side yards to grade,” he says.

Peace of mind

In some communities, builders asked Sabins to install underground drainage. That’s when he decided to stop renting excavators and purchase a Bobcat 435 compact excavator.

“We get into some tight areas, and having the zero house swing feature lets us not worry when we swivel the machine,” Sabins says. “It’s awesome that we can work up against buildings or walls and get much closer to our work areas.”

the residential market slowed down in Florida, Chris and Lori Sabins expanded their business in the commercial market with their versatile Bobcat machines and attachments. “We are very flexible in the types of jobs that we can perform with our Bobcat equipment,” Lori says. “We’re expanding our business in Georgia and South Carolina to utilize our equipment and crews, get our name out there, and build our reputation.”

Chris says his crews aren’t taking it easy despite slow economic times. “Our Bobcat machines enable us to demolish concrete, perform all phases of commercial grading, build retaining walls, and complete underground drainage,” Chris says.

Chris Sabins is sharing the knowledge he learned while working at the rental store with his employees, empowering them to use Bobcat machines to replace tasks previously done by hand.