BTB 45: A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP

BTB visited with McCoy Grading Inc. and Premier Timber Services LLC in Greenville, Georgia to learn more about the recent purchase of a Tigercat LX830D feller buncher for the companies multi-million dollar grading business.

– Samantha Paul, marketing

Established in 1986 by brothers Darrell and Jeff McCoy, McCoy Grading Inc. has grown from a small residential grading company into a full service contractor working on residential, commercial and industrial sites, roadway construction and landfill projects across Georgia and Alabama.

Outside the McCoy Grading headquarters in Greenville, Georgia. (L-R) Daniel McCoy, VP operations, McCoy Grading Inc.; Ricky McConnell, president, Forestry 21; Lewis Grier, sales specialist, Forestry 21; Johnny Boyd, district manager, Tigercat.

Outside the McCoy Grading headquarters in Greenville, Georgia. (L-R) Daniel McCoy, VP operations, McCoy Grading Inc.; Ricky McConnell, president, Forestry 21; Lewis Grier, sales specialist, Forestry 21; Johnny Boyd, district manager, Tigercat.

History and growth

Pond construction and septic tank installation made for a healthy business in the beginning, but when the residential marked slowed in 1992, the company had to expand to survive. Commercial site preparation work kept the company going, but then that business was hit by a downturn in 2000. McCoy then expanded into the state and municipal sector including railway and Department of Transport (DOT) roadwork. Since then, the state and municipal work has proven to be a vital contributor to the company’s continued success.

“The road to success is always under construction.”

– Arnold Palmer

Founding brother Darrell and wife Jean McCoy acquired full ownership of the company in 2007. Since then, their son Daniel and daughter Crystal have joined them in the everyday operation of the company. Daniel is the vice president of operations, overseeing the day-to-day field schedule, while Crystal is the vice president of finance, managing the financial and compliance aspects of the company.

The Tigercat LX830D felling three feet away from the bank of an existing railway track. They are clearing the trees prior to grading for a second railway track along side it.

The Tigercat LX830D felling three feet away from the bank of an existing railway track. They are clearing the trees prior to grading for a second railway track along side it.

Premier Timber Services LLC represents the land clearing side of the business and is in its third year. It consists of a clearing crew, a logging crew and a mulching crew. Premiere Timber fulfi lls the clearing needs of the business while keeping the grading business on schedule. It is owned by brother-sister-mother team, Daniel McCoy, Crystal Jones and Jean McCoy.

Today McCoy Grading and Premier Timber Services employ over 120 people and run 145 machines. The company now has broad experience with a variety of work including storm drainage, sanitary sewer, waterline, earthwork, erosion control, asphalt milling, manufacturing facilities, solar power sites and distribution hubs. The roadway construction business is also growing with road widening, relocation and new construction projects. They also recently added a new bridge construction division to the company portfolio and hit record revenues last year.

Premier Timber Services

Premier Timber supports McCoy Grading by helping move grading projects forward more quickly. Although Premier Timber primarily supports the operations of McCoy Grading, the company also subcontracts to other contractors.

Lewis Grier, sales specialist for Tigercat dealer, Forestry 21, alongside LX830D operator, Donnie Tutton of Premier Timber Services LLC.

Lewis Grier, sales specialist for Tigercat dealer, Forestry 21, alongside LX830D operator, Donnie Tutton of Premier Timber Services LLC.

The first step on any new job site is clearing the land, so logging plays an important part in the operations. McCoy Grading was finding it harder and harder to hire contract loggers to clear the land for them.

“We log tracts that are three acres [1,2 ha], we log tracts that are thirty acres [12 ha],” explains Daniel. “So it just doesn’t work out financially to have logging contractors take on these smaller sites. No logging contractor can sustain themselves on the scale of our projects. We have three trucks out today, but we may only pull two loads a day for two weeks. But the wood is ours, we aren’t dealing with landowners, buying timber.”

For Premier Timber, the best option was to purchase a harvesting system for itself. Daniel reached out to a friend in the logging business to learn more about Tigercat.

“With Tigercat, if they think the machine needs a one inch bolt, it gets an inch and a half. If the machine requires an extra half-inch of steel, it will get three quarters. They overbuild them and that is what will last,” says Daniel as he relates the conversation with his friend.

The LX830D

In October, 2014 Premier Timber purchased a 724G drive-to-tree feller buncher and four months later a 620E skidder. Two years later Premiere Timber realized it needed a machine that had the same high build quality, but could tackle steep road and railway banks.

An aerial view of the LX830D feller buncher on a 30-acre (12-hectare) industrial site being graded for a trailer dealership along I75 in Forest Park, Georgia.

An aerial view of the LX830D feller buncher on a 30-acre (12-hectare) industrial site being graded for a trailer dealership along I75 in Forest Park, Georgia.

Daniel spoke with Forestry 21 sales specialist, Lewis Greer, to arrange for a demonstration of the LX830D. Daniel immediately knew it was what they needed. The leveling base is essential for the sloped road and railway banks it often works on. The 340-degree wrist means added control and the limited-tail swing allows the machine to reach tight spots. “You might be on a slope between a power line and a road. It can hold a tree and you can set it behind you, you can turn it, rack it on another tree and overall have much better control in tight spaces,” Daniel explains.

You can’t build a tractor that won’t have any problems. It is how you say you’re going to deal with those problems is what separates you from the pack and that is what Tigercat is all about.

– Daniel McCoy, VP operations, McCoy Grading Inc.

When BTB visited the LX830D it had just been moved to a four-mile (6,4 km) long railway expansion project. The work is being done for a civil and utility contractor, Strack Inc. The site has an existing railway track and a second track is being laid beside it, requiring extreme precision and control in the felling operation. For added safety, the cutting crew is given a warning before a train passes through, so the LX830D can stop working.

The company looked for an experienced operator to run the LX830D, but no one could be found who wanted to work on roadside cutting. Most conventional forestry operators are not used to the complex safety rules and certifications required when working so close to live traffic and construction. To fill the spot, they took one of their capable employees off an excavator. The fundamental motion is the opposite, but overall the control set up is very similar. “It is a learning curve for him, but we have no doubts that the machine will do what we need it to do. It is just a matter of getting those training hours in at the beginning,” says Daniel.

Forestry 21

Daniel and Forestry 21 have a great relationship. Daniel appreciates having the lead technician’s cell phone number to call if any problems arise. “Scotty [Thompson] knows how to diagnosis everything. He is young, but really understands the cost of downtime and won’t quit until it’s done. Forestry 21 is great in that sense,” Daniel explains.

From Ricky’s experience of being a logger himself, he understands the urgency of downtime. He will take a part off a machine in his yard right away to help a customer that is down.

Tigercat factory tour experience

In October, 2015, one year before purchasing the LX830D, Forestry 21 took Daniel and his uncle, Jeff McCoy to visit the Tigercat factories. Daniel was impressed with how many components were actually engineered and manufactured inhouse. “It wasn’t all just an assembly plant. You could see the raw steel coming in and then the final product going out the door,” he states.

A typical development site for McCoy Grading.

A typical development site for McCoy Grading.

Daniel also commented on the very clean work environment and positive vibe he felt from the staff while touring. “You could tell the floor employees were very proud of what they were building.” Overall, having the LX830D in the fleet of machines mutually benefi ts both McCoy Grading and Premiere Timber. The machine is fulfilling the clearing needs of the logging side of the business, while keeping the grading business on schedule. Having the LX830D also allows Premiere Timber to feel confident with the companies capabilities, as they take on more and more projects with tricky terrain.

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