Contractor Lands Major Grading Jobs With 3D Grading System

Published on April 22, 2019

Mark Knorr Construction is in high demand – with a productivity level to match. The company has the distinction of being the only business within a 500-mile radius of central California to own a 3D grade control system for use with Bobcat heavy-duty construction grading equipment. Mark Knorr, the company’s owner and namesake, says the 3D system has already paid for itself in productivity and incoming work. In fact, he’s considering buying a second system just to keep up with the projects the first one has generated.

“Thanks to this 3D system, which is super fast and super accurate, my productivity is at least one and a half times what it was before,” Mark says. “We recently finished a job that was estimated to take up to three months in just three weeks.”

Growing a Grading Business

Grading has proven to be a profitable line of work for Mark since he sold his concrete business in 2010 to focus on his Folsom-based construction company, which he founded in 2001. In the company’s early days, Mark focused on small-site technical grading work, such as fire lanes, curbs, gutters and sidewalks. His largest job back then was a 5-acre school site. Eventually, Mark began doing more work for parks, swimming pools, basketball courts, volleyball courts and the like before adding residential services to his offering.

Mark’s five-person crew recently completed the technical grading for all of the house pads, streets, curbs, gutters and sidewalks in a 15-acre subdivision, where 120 new houses will soon be built. The subdivision is just a small section of a 5,000-acre residential community outside of Sacramento that’s scheduled for completion in 2032. When done, the new community will boast 17,000 homes.

“We’re working six days a week, 10 hours a day,” Mark says.

The company recently wrapped up a 26-mile bike path around the subdivision’s perimeter using Bobcat loaders equipped with both a sonic tracer and cross-slope system and the 3D grade control system. Mark’s crews have also been working on a grading and foundation project for a fire station; a baseball field with 3 acres of parking; and a 15-acre park with basketball and volleyball courts, seating areas, barbeque spots, sidewalks and landscaping.

Start with Durable Equipment

Mark’s devotion to Bobcat equipment dates back to high school, when he was in an on-the-job training program. Although he has tried using products from other manufacturers over the years, he was “never as big of a fan of the other brands.”

“Bobcat equipment is just the most reliable and the most durable,” he says. “When I decided to go out on my own, I found an affordable, used skid-steer loader that got me started. Then I bought a Bobcat excavator, and it just snowballed from there.”

Today, he owns 12 Bobcat machines, including a T630, T770 and five T650 compact track loaders, as well as 26 attachments.

Improved Grading Efficiency

Mark says he appreciates the unparalleled diversity of Bobcat attachments, especially the heavy-duty grader attachments. Pairing a grader attachment with the Bobcat 3D grade control system boosts the crew’s efficiency.

“It’s amazing. If you’re doing a flat building pad, a pad for concrete, a foundation or any kind of single-plane grading, you can’t get more accurate than that laser system,” he says. “And as soon as you start getting into 3D shapes or any curves or radiuses – anything other than just a single plane – that 3D control is so fast it’s not even funny.”

Before purchasing the laser system, Mark’s company ran a two-person operation for grading single-plane areas: One worker would manipulate the slopes and the elevations with the laser, while the person running the machine would do whatever portion of grading was required. The 3D control system has completely eliminated the need for a dedicated laser controller, freeing that person up to do other work.

“Now everything is pre-entered, and it’s a one-time setup,” Mark says. “We program the whole jobsite into it, and then it knows where you’re at and what the elevations need to be. It also can handle multiple shapes and is not limited to a single plane.”

Although Mark was initially leery about spending the money on the 3D system, he was confident that the investment would be worth it. He’d previously used a 3D grade control system on larger equipment and knew the system’s capabilities. If it weren’t for Bobcat equipment and the 3D grade control system, Mark believes he wouldn’t have landed the large residential community development project.

“I knew the production was going to be there,” he says. “It was just a matter of actually coming to the point where I needed it, and I knew the return on investment would be there.”

See the 3D grade control system in action:



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