The value of a good breakfast — and a great loader
Brothers expect to keep their M-Series skid-steer loader busy as new energy discoveries are made in Eastern Ohio
Brothers Delbert (left) and Monroe Schlabach can work more efficiently, thanks to Bobcat skid-steer loaders and attachments.
Delbert and Monroe Schlabach know how to get each day started right. They eat a 6 a.m. breakfast together at a restaurant where they fine-tune their work plan, then meet their five employees at the shop an hour later and travel to the first jobsite, typically with a Bobcat® skid-steer loader. It’s a routine that has worked for 28 years.
“That early-morning planning and preparation helps us focus on our projects and enables us to give our customers an honest day of work for a fair price,” Delbert says. “We are more efficient because we know what we are going to do.”
Oil discovery fueling boom
While they have had steady work for the almost three decades they have operated Schlabach Excavating, job planning has become even more important this year. That’s because they are right in the center of a recent discovery of huge oil reserves in the Marcellus and Utica shales. Energy firms have been producing natural gas for years from the shale rock located in the eastern half of Ohio, but this is the first time they have found a major oil reserve. One energy company executive said the result could be 25 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest discoveries in U.S. history. Other estimates range from 38 billion to 384 billion barrels.
“People around here are leasing their land for the oil and gas rights,” says Monroe, “and home construction is picking up as the population is expected to grow. If everything works out, our entire area, including us, should be sitting pretty good.”
The Schlabachs, whose company is headquartered in Berlin, Ohio, regularly work for four builders. Their jobs include digging out basements and finish grading around the sites. If the property is in a rural area, they also install septic systems.
During the early years they were in business, they did much of this work with a dozer or tractor-loader-backhoe. Then they started renting Bobcat skid-steer loaders and about 16 years ago they purchased the first of their five loaders.
“Each Bobcat loader enabled us to handle projects more efficiently,” Delbert says. “Our current model, an S650, is the biggest and best one we’ve owned. It replaced an S185. Now we can move much more gravel in our 80-inch construction/industrial bucket (and more snow in the winter). The maneuverability of the loader allows us to finish grade right up next to the foundation. The time we save is amazing.”
“The visibility of the forward cab and larger windows and the bigger, quieter cab make operating it a pleasure,” Monroe says. “There is no comparison to anything else we’ve seen. As the economy in this area continues to improve, we expect to put a lot of hours on the machine.”