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Spring 2013

Part-time success story

Fireman keeps his reliable Bobcat loaders busy on his off days

Gene Kracht’s T870 compact track loader is the ninth
Bobcat loader he has owned.

Gene Kracht’s T870 compact track loader is the ninth Bobcat loader he has owned.

For 22 years, Gene Kracht has been a full-time member of the fire department in Centralia, Ill. He’s had an even longer career operating a part-time business, a 27-year-old enterprise that is now called Kracht Land Improvement.

He’s been successful at both, and when he retires from the fire department, his part-time job will become full-time. That’s not unusual, especially for the many thousands of hard-working, entrepreneurial individuals who have carved out a second career, built with help from durable and versatile Bobcat® compact equipment.

“The dual career has worked out well,” he says. “Financially it has been very worthwhile.”

During spring, summer and fall, Kracht’s part-time work is equally divided between concrete flatwork, seeding, hydroseeding and excavating. In winter, he has about 75 commercial snow removal accounts. Most of his snow-plowing customers have been with him for 20 years or more.

“Snow removal is the most unpredictable part of my business,” Kracht says. “At times scheduling becomes difficult, so I have a couple of guys at the fire department I can trade shifts with, if necessary.”

With a full-time job, scheduling has always been a challenge for Kracht. “I know my fire department schedule (24 hours on, followed by 48 hours off) in advance,” he says. “Working in conjunction with other contractors can be a problem. The biggest issue is that I cannot be on a job every day of the week.”

Meeting deadlines

An important factor in making his part-time work successful is reliable equipment. “If I show up for a two-day job, I have to complete it in that timeframe so I can go back to the fire station,” he says. “When I plan for a two-day job, I know that I will not be there the third day.”

That’s why Kracht has relied on Bobcat equipment since he started his business. He purchased his first loader in 1985, five years before he joined the fire department. When Bobcat of St. Louis in Fairview Heights, Ill., recently delivered a new T870 compact track loader, it was the ninth Bobcat loader he has owned. He also owns another Bobcat compact track loader and skid-steer loader, along with 28 attachments. Kracht has a 14-pin wiring harness so he can operate older attachments with his newest loader.

T870 compact track loader

T870 compact track loader

“They have always been very dependable machines,” he says. “I’m loyal to Bobcat and to the dealership, which has been consistently very good to me.”

He also likes the way Bobcat loaders continue to get better each time he buys a new one. “In the M-Series T870, the improvement in visibility to all sides is dramatic, and I have never been in a more comfortable cab,” he says. “The power of the 99-horsepower diesel engine is more than enough and the two-speed travel option is proving to be very valuable.” Kracht can drive up to 11.4 mph with the two-speed option, enabling him to get more work done in less time.

Kracht works regularly for two contractors and a paving company, plus he gets a lot of work on his own. The high-production T870 is helping him keep up, but he’s running two months behind, nevertheless. “I’ve been fortunate to have a good backlog of work, even at times when the economy is struggling,” he says. “My second job has worked out real well.”