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Early Spring HOWA 2012

Business executive on weekdays, compact tractor operator on weekends

Southern Idaho family puts Bobcat compact tractor to work to overhaul five acres for a new home, landscaping, pond, barn and livestock

Todd Gill with sons Riley (left) and Hunter, and the family’s Bobcat CT230 compact tractor.

Todd Gill with sons Riley (left) and Hunter, and the family’s Bobcat CT230 compact tractor.

Operating a Bobcat® compact tractor is the least likely thing that Todd Gill might do on a daily basis. That’s what makes it so enjoyable for him on weeknights and weekends.

Gill is the senior vice president and CFO of United Heritage Insurance, a financial service and insurance company in Boise, Idaho. He spends most of his time in the office. Rather than driving his Bobcat CT230 compact tractor, this professional is overseeing the company’s financial, strategic and accounting responsibilities.

Roots steeped in equipment
Although he’s a business executive, operating compact equipment is not far removed from Gill’s family history. Both his father-in-law and father owned and operated Bobcat skid-steer loaders on their cattle ranches.

“I grew up on a cattle ranch and we raised all of our own hay to feed the cattle,” Gill says. “Our family-run cattle ranch had lots of tractors, so I was very familiar with operating equipment.”

Gill is originally from Southern Idaho and graduated from Northwest Nazarene College. He’s married to Darci and they have three children: Hunter (9), Riley (6) and Graci (3). Together the family lives on a 5-acre property that he and Darci purchased in March 2011, located outside of the Treasure Valley community of Meridian, Idaho. The Gills hope to share their childhood agriculture experiences with their children, which will be possible when the couple develops their property.

Homeowner Todd Gill cuts grass with a 3-pt. rotary cutter for his Bobcat compact tractor.

Homeowner Todd Gill cuts grass with a 3-pt. rotary cutter for his Bobcat compact tractor.

“When we bought the property, it had been vacant for almost two years, so it had significant overgrown weeds,” Gill says. “It took a lot of effort to clear it, which we did with the compact tractor, loader and a rotary cutter. Eventually we want to create pastures and landscaping around a new home. We have irrigation ditches to dig to make sure the water flows across the property, because it is flood irrigation … to make sure it drains back to the river. We may rent a backhoe (attachment) as we need to make improvements to the flood irrigation setup and landscaping. “We hope to eventually have livestock, primarily horses and some other animals that my wife and I grew up with. Our kids will be in 4-H, so we’re looking to have a lot of activity here. We intend to rent an auger to install fences around the horse pastures and corrals that we will be building.”

Researching tractors
As you might expect a CFO to do, Gill diligently researched the compact tractor industry to find the best model for his family’s needs. What he found was a brand that stood out from the others — Bobcat.

“Reliability was a key feature, for sure,” Gill says. “Then I definitely wanted to find a hydrostatic tractor. My wife loves driving the tractor because it’s a hydrostatic model. It has very simple ergonomic controls and has a convenient walk-through platform. Plus, it’s easy to drive, steer and maintain.”

“Our Bobcat tractor is great for our small acreage,” Darci says. “It does just about everything. The hydrostatic drive is my favorite feature … there is no shifting and no clutching, just easy and smooth transitions from forward to reverse for those tight spots. I feel very secure in the Bobcat tractor with its heavy weight and all-metal frame.”

“I wanted a compact tractor that had enough weight to be able to do a lot of things, especially digging, Gill says. “Some of the compact tractors that I looked at could barely lift a hay bale. With the Bobcat compact tractor — with the all-metal frame — it added some extra weight to it. That was a major difference between Bobcat and the other models that I looked at. Other tractors had a lot of fiberglass, which makes them lighter, but it also doesn’t make them heavy enough when you need the weight; they’re easier to break, too. Something else that stood out to me was the Bobcat front-end loader and Bob-Tach® mounting system, in case I want to change attachments.”

The Gills’ Bobcat compact tractor and front-end loader got a workout right away.

“We’ve been moving a lot of rocks and dirt, especially around the pond area,” he says. “I intend to build a little motorcycle track for my sons, creating some mounds for him to start driving on. And then we moved a lot of debris to a burn pile. Since this was a vacant lot there were plenty of dead trees that we had to rip out or pull out and move. In the long-term, when we get the property with a barn and have activities, there will be a lot of material to move.”

Reliable name, reliable results
“Since my dad owned Bobcat skid-steer loaders, I knew how reliable they were. You can work them to death and they just keep going. So when I found out that Bobcat made compact tractors, I started comparing them to others. I read online, independent reviews and Bobcat compact tractors quickly rose to equal or better than some of the most popular brands, in my mind.”

The Bobcat brand is a common one in Gill’s business too. “Our company insures numerous farms, ranches and small acreages in the Pacific Northwest and Bobcat has an excellent reputation with our people,” Gill says.

Full-service support
After doing online research, Gill visited the closest Bobcat dealership, H & E Equipment, which is where he eventually purchased the CT230 with a front-end loader.

“H & E Equipment is a full-service dealer, with a service department to help me maintain the tractor,” Gill says. “That’s important because I didn’t want to be stuck with a dealer who didn’t understand their own tractors and how to maintain them. Thus far my relationship with my Bobcat dealer has been fantastic. My salesman is always easy to reach, and if I have any questions about maintenance, he connects me with the service department that can straighten me out.

“I’ve been very pleased with my Bobcat tractor. The reliability of the Bobcat brand is definitely holding true with my purchase. It’s the perfect complement to a small acreage, to be able to do everything we need to do.”

A Bobcat compact tractor has been just what the Gill family needed to help them make progress toward building their home and developing their 5-acre property. Eventually they will be able to enjoy some of the same activities from their childhood and pass them on to their three children.