Helping out the little guy

January 12, 2015
Howerter's IMT Dominator® mechanics truck and IMT SiteStar® lube skid support an equipment fleet consisting of two bulldozers, three excavators and a skid-steer loader.

John Howerter has never spent a dime on advertising for his small earth-moving company. Owner and operator of Howerter Bulldozing, he lives outside his hometown of Smithfield, Illinois. Population? 250 (which means everybody knows everybody). When Howerter is looking for new jobs, he doesn’t take out an advertisement. He simply sits down for lunch at a local café.

After dining with Howerter Bulldozing customers, Howerter usually walks out the door with a full stomach and a heavier workload. It’s business, small-town style — and he wouldn’t want it any other way.

“A lot of guys said I should go off to Peoria (Ill.) and get on big construction jobs, but I always just wanted to work next door, for my neighbor,” said Howerter.

“I like repeat customers. When I leave a job, I want to know they’ll be coming to us when they need something done again.”

The surest way for Howerter Bulldozing to keep neighbors approaching Howerter at lunch is to continue getting jobs done right and on time. Howerter recently made an investment in productivity, acquiring a new service truck and lubrication skid to expand the company’s field service capabilities. The Iowa Mold Tooling Co. Inc. (IMT) DSC20 mechanics truck and IMT SiteStar® lube skid support an equipment fleet consisting of two bulldozers, three excavators and a skid-steer loader.

“Our truck is pretty much a shop on wheels,” said Howerter.

With six pieces of equipment, three employees and a modest area of operation, Howerter Bulldozing might not seem like a company that would need a robust mechanics truck. However, a closer look at the business reveals how the right mechanics truck can benefit any contractor, regardless of size.

Truck minimizes trips back to shop

John Howerter’s résumé featured firewood-cutting and well-drilling when he bought a bulldozer from his brother in the late 1990s. Howerter Bulldozing was born, and the company has grown to John and two full-time employees serving customers within an approximate 30-mile radius of Smithfield, roughly 50 miles west of Peoria.

The owner estimates his customer base is 75 percent agricultural and 25 percent recreational. Projects Howerter Bulldozing frequently tackles for agricultural customers include land clearing, terracing, building-site cleanup, fence removal, digging foundations for new construction, maintenance of levees and drainage ditches, and waterway and dry-dam construction. For recreational customers — think owners of hunting grounds — the company typically builds roads and maintains water crossings.

Howerter used to rely on a pickup truck and his local equipment dealer to keep the company’s fleet up and running. The recent addition of full-time employees gave him the flexibility to take a more do-it-yourself approach to maintaining the bulldozers, excavators and skid steer.