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Fall 2011

Limited-Space Snow Removal Requires Compact Bobcat Loaders

Jim Kelley

Jim Kelley is the owner of Cambridge Landscape Co., and 10 Bobcat skid-steer loaders for snow removal applications.

After three decades Boston-area landscaper still providing reliable snow removal

For 32 years Jim Kelley has counted on snow removal to generate wintertime work and income for his full-service Boston-area landscaping firm. During most of that time, he has depended on Bobcat® loaders to deliver what he considers the most important factor in his success: Reliability.

“That’s what we are selling — doing what we said we would do. You are only as good as the last job you did for the customer,” says Kelley, owner of Cambridge Landscape Co. Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.

Kelley and his staff start planning for each snow season in early September when they begin signing up renewals, a job they hope is complete by October 1. They delay adding new business until they see how many existing customers come back.

“We don’t have many openings because 98 to 99 percent of our customers return,” Kelley says. “The vast majority of them are landscape clients as well. This winter we turned away 300 to 400 calls from people who wanted to hire us for snow removal.”

The way Kelley measures a bid for a job depends on several factors, including: the amount of attention the customer wants, when the area needs to be cleared, and the square footage of the area being cleared.

Plan necessary for success

“You can’t do your planning once it starts snowing,” says Kelley, who has 80 full-time employees. “If you don’t go into the season with a solid plan, you are looking for trouble.”

The planning process for Cambridge Landscape includes putting routes together for machines that travel from job to job, evaluating and measuring sites, and figuring what equipment will work best. Kelley says about 100 locations are very tight and compact.

With 10 Bobcat skid-steer loaders — ranging in size from the S100 to the S185 — he has the perfect equipment for working in areas where space is limited. The S100 loaders are used in smaller, more open areas, while the 753 and S185s are employed in wider areas. Each machine has offset rims to help squeeze through openings. The loaders are equipped with buckets, snow blades that have rubber cutting edges (for parking garage roof decks) and angle brooms for final cleanup after a storm.

Four machines are stationed at a university and two are in hotel garages. The remaining machines travel by truck and trailer to smaller locations such as two- and three-family homes. In these densely populated areas, there is no place to pile the snow, so the loaders dump it into 1-ton trucks for removal to a remote location.

According to Kelley, for each job his team maps out where the snow will be moved to.

“It’s always good to go for a corner of a lot or area, when possible,” he says. “Never dump snow in handicapped parking spaces or around fire hydrants.”

Also, after a major storm Kelley will dispatch, via radio, several loaders to sites where there is a high accumulation so that snow can be relocated. He also feeds a 20-ton snow melting machine with his T300 compact track loader.

“Bobcat machines have always been dependable,” Kelley says. “Over the years the added creature comforts have made them a pleasure to operate. I remember 25 or 30 years ago, you could get out of a loader during a snowstorm and you could not feel your legs because they were so cold. Today’s Bobcat loaders are much nicer for the operator.”