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Spring 2009

Slow economy can't stop contractor's Bobcat System

Florida owner-operator takes advantage of opportunities to stay busy

Tom Kelly

Bobcat owner-operator Tom Kelly purchased a 2200 utility vehicle for outdoor excursions on weekends.

A middle-aged man wearing a red shirt and blue bib overalls appears from his garage where he keeps some of his favorite "toys," including a Bobcat® 2200 utility vehicle. Tom Kelly is well-known in the Jacksonville, Fla., area for his fondness of the color red and his business — Tom Kelly Construction.

Kelly operates a successful niche business with a Bobcat System. A Bobcat S185 skid-steer loader with enclosed cab and high-flow hydraulics, a 435 compact excavator, and a handful of vital attachments enable him to minimize labor and get jobs done on time.

Kelly's specialty is refurbishing "big box" stores for new tenants. "We renovate 30,000- to 50,000-square-foot interiors, and we use our Bobcat equipment inside of them because they can fit through five-foot doorways," Kelly says. "We make use of the Bobcat loader as a forklift, as a wheelbarrow and for handling debris with a grapple."

Kelly says new tenants of a large commercial center always need some kind of renovation done to the building before they move in.

"A lot of my decision to buy my first Bobcat loader was because it was the innovator of small equipment." Tom Kelly

"They never fit their needs, so we gut them and build a new interior with Sheetrock, ceilings, lights, floor coverings, restrooms — whatever their needs are. "We use the 435 to complete excavating projects inside the buildings, including cutting through concrete floors to dig a new sewer line from one end to another. I bought the machine with an enclosed cab with air conditioning for comfort, and the hydraulic clamp for handling demolition debris."

Tom Kelly and his crews employ their Bobcat tool carriers with augers, pallet forks, backhoes, grapples, hydraulic clamps, floor scrapers and multiple buckets. Bobcat attachments are used throughout the entire process — from demolition to the final cleanup.

'The innovator of small equipment'

Kelly purchases his compact equipment from Bobcat of Jacksonville. "A lot of my decision to buy my first Bobcat loader was because it was the innovator of small equipment," he says. "The salesman told me that if I took care of the machine, I would have a dependable piece of equipment for a long time — he was accurate. I bought my first Bobcat loader 15 years ago. I don't know how people survive without them."

Visit the construction market segment page to learn more about how Bobcat machines and attachments tackle the toughest construction jobs with ease.

Bobcat utility vehicle ideal for NASCAR trips

One of Kelly's hobbies is traveling to NASCAR races. With big crowds and limited space to drive, he can easily get around the people camping at the racetrack with his 2200. "There may be thousands of acres of campgrounds at a NASCAR race site, and a four-wheel vehicle, like my 2200, is nice to have to get around and visit other people," he says.

Before a race in Bristol, Tenn., Kelly took his Bobcat 2200 to do some "mud-bogging" and hill climbing with other utility vehicle owners. He says it wasn't long after they were in the clay, that other brands of utility vehicles got stuck going up a hill. "I was the champion," Kelly says. "I went right by a guy who got stuck on the hill going forward. I stopped to speak to him, went up the hill, turned around, and stopped to say ‘Hi' on the way back down." The other utility vehicle was still stuck in the same spot.