The Big Rundown

A quality crew needs an ace — just like every winning team needs a hard-nosed, go-to guy who can do everything faster and better than the rest. He can lift more, quicker, getting the job done with no bones about a long day of hard work.

Construction and landscape contractors need such strongmen out in the field, spearheading their crews, multitasking
on-site and getting projects finished on time. Sometimes this ace can be a versatile and powerful piece of equipment,
engineered to dig, lift or carry longer and harder than any employee of the month. Even when you compare equipment, there is always that one machine that seems to do more than just about every other piece of equipment combined. It’s called a compact utility loader and it’s designed to do a
little of everything on a jobsite.

Need to dig a few deep holes? Maybe move some mulch quickly? Perhaps your job calls for lifting heavy pallets of brick? Your versatile new employee — call him CUL for short — is going to front all of those operations. Fitted with the right set of hydraulic attachments, your compact utility loader can perform on par with an entire crew of shovels, wheelbarrows, augers, trenchers, snow blowers and work hands. In the end, that
versatility and extra power is going to make your life a whole lot easier — oh yeah, and make your company lots more money.

“Versatility is about the return on investment,” explains Kevin Smith, product manager for Compact Utility at Ditch Witch.

‘If I’m buying a piece of equipment, I need to ask myself,
‘How am I going to get my money back?’ By adding a versatile machine, you can a turn a better profit performing a variety of jobs quicker. That’s what it boils down to. For every contractor out there buying one of these, they’re looking for a cost-

effective machine that’s going to make them more money.”

Luckily, professionals have a wealth of different machines from which to choose. Manufacturers such as Toro, Bobcat, Ditch Witch, Vermeer, Compact Power, Ramrod, Thomas and Gehl are all designing and selling innovative products in the compact utility loader market today. Buyers will also have a bevy of inventive options — ride-on, walk-behind and sit-down units, hydraulic flow rates from 6 to 15 gpm, gas and diesel engines, wheels or dedicated track undercarriages, enhanced operator control patterns, zero-turn and articulating body designs and more than 70 different attachments. Add those growing options and models to a bigger awareness of these mighty mini loaders, and you can see sales maturing in the North American marketplace every year — 5,000 units sold overall last year, say manufacturers that CE surveyed.

“Each year it seems that new markets open up for potential sales,” says Matthew Naylor, a research and development
manager for Ramrod’s Taskmaster mini skid steer loaders.

“Ease of operation and the versatility of these machines make them the ideal tool in traditional markets such as landscape, fencing, irrigation, greenhouse and nursery businesses.

We have seen new markets opening up in concrete, demolition, roofers and material handling businesses in the last few years. Compact utility loaders allow our customers to do more work, more efficiently, with less labor.”

In such a big growth market, it’s often hard to find your ideal machine in all of those large product lines. Sometimes it takes countless hours of research to find the right model for your operation and pocketbook. To help speed things up, CE took the
initiative. We surveyed the nine biggest compact utility loaders brands in the industry — our big rundown. And, what we found are some of the most hard-working and versatile utility machines for their size. Pour over the next 12 pages, read the product summaries, check the specs and find your crew’s new ace in the hole.

Keith Gribbins is managing editor of Compact Equipment.

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