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Fall 2012

Avoiding the second question

Replacing another brand of compact equipment with Bobcat loaders and attachments has proven to be a wise decision for a snow removal expert in Michigan.

Bobcat compact track and skid-steer loaders play an important role in
Chris and Heather Beckett’s snow removal business in Michigan.

Bobcat compact track and skid-steer loaders play an important role in Chris and Heather Beckett’s snow removal business in Michigan.

Based on his experience in the snow removal business, Chris Beckett believes the most important question clients ask is, “Is it done?” If they get to the next question, “Why isn’t it done?” you’ve got a problem, he says.

“When they have plenty of other options, why push them to that point?” asks Beckett. He and his wife, Heather, are owners of Compass North, a Macomb Township, Mich., company with several large commercial snow removal accounts. “There are not many second chances in this business, so if your employees show up and your equipment works, it shouldn’t be that complicated to keep customers happy.”

Most of his crew works in construction — jobs they return to at the conclusion of the snow season. Beckett pays them after each snow event, which, he says, is unusual in the business. “That’s a big incentive for being on-site on time,” he points out.

A year ago, Beckett replaced another brand of compact equipment with multiple Bobcat® skid-steer loaders and compact track loaders. “Not only is the local Bobcat dealership (Bobcat of Motor City) easier to work with, the new machines performed flawlessly,” he says. “The S750, S770 and T750 are amazing loaders.”

Focus on commercial accounts

As a third-generation landscaper, Beckett has been involved in snow removal for several years. At one time he plowed snow at about 4,500 properties that were in foreclosure. That experience caused him to narrow his focus to commercial sites where he can park his equipment for the winter, have one person cutting the check and have the opportunity to secure multi-year contracts. Another part of his plan: Use skid-steer loaders instead of bigger machines.

His customers include an automobile manufacturer, several big box retailers, a few smaller shopping malls and some condominiums.

“I try to stay away from businesses that are open 24 hours a day and have multiple traffic patterns,” Beckett says. “You can waste a lot of time on sites. Not having moving vehicles around when we work is a big advantage.”

That’s not to say he doesn’t have some challenges on the job. For example, at the automobile manufacturer his skid-steer loaders have to maneuver around many obstacles, including gas docks and million-dollar prototype vehicles.

“The M-Series loaders, each equipped with a Bobcat 10-foot snow pusher or snow and light material bucket, really work well in snow removal,” he says. “The forward design of the cab offers superior visibility. In fact, working in the cab for several hours at a time is a pleasant experience. Fatigue is not an issue.”

Having right-sized equipment has helped Beckett secure and maintain his snow removal contracts, as well keep his operators refreshed in comfortable operating conditions.