Ford Asphalt Company has provided commercial asphalt and concrete paving services to the St. Louis Metro area since the company was founded in 1975. Over the years, Ford has built a long list of repeat clients that continue to call on the company for quality paving work. In fact, more than 90 percent of the company’s work is repeat business.
Randy White of St. Louis-based CASE dealer Luby Equipment attributes this kind of longevity and success to positive leadership. “I think that it starts with the owner of the company (Bruce Ford) and how they treat their employees, and then that is reflected in their work,” says White. “It’s a people business. And when somebody at the top treats their people well, it’s just completely reflective of their day-to-day operations and work.”
Skid Steers Take the Heat in Asphalt Paving
With over 45 years of experience working on commercial parking lots, municipal road repairs and other projects, Ford has owned countless pieces of equipment, and the company’s history, in many ways, runs in parallel with decades of skid steer evolution.
The company recently purchased a CASE SV340B skid steer loader — the newest and largest model manufactured by CASE. The 90-horsepower skid steer features a rated operating capacity of 3,400 pounds and bucket breakout force of 9,531 pounds. The SV340B is a vertical-lift machine (ideal for reaching into Ford’s dump trucks) that the company equipped with high-flow auxiliary hydraulics for running a variety of attachments. The machine also provides industry-leading visibility, a new operator interface and controls, and new simplified start-up and operation. New CASE B Series loaders feature a completely redesigned operator interface, including new left- and right-hand posts with simple ignition, push-button operation, easy throttle control and intuitive switches for all core machine functions.
Andrew Wilbourn, Jr. (Junior) has been an operator for Ford Paving Company for over 33 years, and has been running equipment since he was a young boy. “I started on the [CASE] 1845. All the way down to where they started getting fancier and fancier and more modern,” he says. “And the more modern they got, the more power they had.”
“And that machine [the SV340B] has really got some power.”
The new electro-hydraulic SV340B offers a variety of new features that were high on the company’s list when considering a new skid steer loader. One of those new features is Creep Speed, which allows the operator to set machine speed at a consistent/slow “creep” while independently setting attachment speed via the throttle for optimal use of hydraulic attachments such as cold planers and brooms—essential tools on Ford’s jobsites.
“If you’re milling, you’ve got a [Creep] mode for when you mill, and that really helps because you control the [drive] speed when you’re milling to keep the miller from jamming,” says Junior. “If you tried to go too fast with a mill, it will jam and stop. But if you get a steady pace you can now mill just about anything with it. [If you] try to go too fast on a hard surface, all it’s going to do is bounce, but with that [Creep] mode, you can sit there and just creep along and mill away.”
“When you don’t have [Creep Speed], it’s all in your hands — you have to feel to move forward. And with [Creep Speed], you can just set that, and it just walks itself.”
Another feature noted by Junior is the machine’s excellent visibility. CASE skid steers feature industry-leading 360-degree visibility — enhanced by an all-new backup camera as well as a cab-wide rearview mirror that comes standard on all B Series machines. The low entry threshold and large front window provide excellent visibility to the front of the machine and down to the attachment. Large side windows and a large curved rear window allow for great sightlines to the sides and the rear of the machine. Rear visibility is further aided by low-profile rear hoods, and an extremely low-profile H-Link.
“Visibility is very important, especially when you’re working on an asphalt job,” Junior explains. “You’ve got multiple people walking around. You’ve got finishers, you’ve got laborers. You have some crews consisting of seven people or more — and you have to be vigilant all the time. It’s very important that you see where everybody is.”
“I really love the backup camera on there. That’s one safety feature that I wish all skid loaders had.”
As part of the machine’s electro-hydraulic features, the SV340B allows operators to store and recall specific setting profiles to match individual operator preference or job types. It also allows operators to set total machine responsiveness to low, moderate or aggressive, or independently set tilt, lift and drive speeds, as well as loader arm and drive control to best meet the demands of a job. It also switches easily between ISO and H operating patterns with the simple push of a button.
“Most of the guys that work here prefer the H pattern, and some use the ISO pattern,” says Junior. “It is very easy [to switch]. You punch the button and you have to wait for a second — boom — real quick.”
When it comes to equipment service and repair, Ford works directly with the team at Luby Equipment — Junior has been working with the dealer for more than 30 years. “I’ve been working around Luby for years — for as long as I’ve been at the company. They’ve been very, very helpful in getting us the equipment that we need when we ask for something. Randy is right on top of it.”
“I can’t choose for people, but I can choose for myself. When they ask me, what do I prefer? I tell them I prefer a CASE,” Junior concludes. “CASE has been a good piece of equipment and I like it better — better overall than any other piece of equipment.”