Empire Southwest

ROCK SOLID

Contractor carves out niche with Cat® EquipmenT

 
From modest beginnings 35 years ago on a ranch in Cave Creek, Ariz., Larson Excavating has established a reputation for quality and dependability with builders, engineers and contractors. 
 
Specializing in site preparation for custom homes, garages and other buildings, Larson Excavating works within a 30-mile radius of its home base, serving Cave Creek, Carefree, Scottsdale, and north Phoenix. 
 
The company got its start in 1982, when rancher David Larson owned a backhoe that he used on his land to perform various tasks. Because the backhoe had other uses, Larson began using the machine for off-ranch work, and the business advanced to the point where Larson started his own excavation company digging foundation footings, and performing utility trenching and septic system installations. 
 
In 1997, Larson stepped aside and handed the business over to his son, Mike, who went to work expanding the scope of the business.
 
“I have been on tractors since I was a kid, and I went to work for my dad and just stayed with it,” Mike says. “About 19 years ago, he stepped away from the company, so I went about expanding our offerings and we took the business to the next level.”
 
Today, Larson Excavating provides a host of excavation services, including: 
  • Residential and Commercial Site Preparation
  • Septic Systems
  • Utility Trenching
  • Driveways and Roadways
  • Horse Facility Preparation
  • Rip Rap and Drainage Control 
  • Demolition
  • Hillside Rock Excavation 
  • Trucking, Hauling and Water Truck Services
 
 
At residential home projects, Larson has two site prep crews, including a backhoe crew that will perform trenching to put in a new septic system, conduits, or water mains. A small residential cleanup crew performs finish grading and other activities to each site.
 
“We do a variety of work at customer home sites, including erosion control and drainage repair,” Larson says. “We use excavators, wheel loaders and skid steers for that type of work, and backhoes for some of the trenching. 
 
“Most jobs we encounter have rock, granite or caliche—some type of hard material,” he continues. “For the hard-dig conditions with quite a bit of rock we require hydraulic breakers. There’s always a challenge on every job.” 
At some residential sites where access is extremely tight, Larson’s compact Cat® machines enable crews to perform tasks efficiently with minimal disruption to the surroundings.
 
Larson owns a dozen pieces of Cat equipment with multiple attachments, including a hammer, breakers, various buckets, and compactor plates.
 
“Everything I own is purchased through Cat Financial, which has been a huge benefit to me,” he says. “Everything they have done has helped me succeed in my business, as far as financing terms and ease of transactions—they are very easy to deal with.”
 
While he purchases the majority of his equipment outright, he has also utilized a rental purchase option, where he ends up buying the machine after it demonstrates its value.
In a typical year, Larson logs anywhere from 600 to 1,000 hours on a machine. 
 
“With backhoes, I will typically trade them in at 4,000 to 5,000 hours, so that I get good value through Empire,” he says. “By the time that machine logs that many hours, I’m able to get into the current new model of the backhoe loader.”
 

 
VALUED ASSETS

Larson has 10 employees, and operates his own trucks for hauling materials. He credits his employees for the company’s long-term success.
 
“They are really good guys, excellent equipment operators, and everybody loves what they do,” Larson says. “At any one time, we will have about six jobs going. We run three full crews, and work sunup to sundown if need be. If I didn’t have the employees I have, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Larson calls his employees his chief asset. Superintendent Matt Lewis has worked for the company for more than a decade. A key piece of Larson’s success is the Cat equipment and the product support that he receives from Empire Southwest. 
“They represent the Cat product in excellent fashion, and whatever it takes, they make it happen,” he says.Larson utilizes Product Link™ and VisionLink® to keep tabs on his equipment.“I can do a lot from the office by watching those machines work instead of doing a lot driving around and checking everything out,” he says. “The type of things that I check are fuel efficiency, location of the machine, and the number of hours it has been running.”
 
Empire has also been helpful in spotting signs of potential trouble and notifying him.“There have been times where Empire has called, and they will know that there is trouble with the machine long before I will,” Larson says, “and a tech will be on his way to address whatever’s going on with that Product Link code.” In the coming years, Larson will continue to seek different niches and expand the business.  
“I am always trying to follow trends in the market and keep up with current trends and building techniques,” he says. “Things are always changing, and fortunately Caterpillar has a lot of equipment and tools that I can use to follow those trends and help me be more productive—and at the end of the day, make money.”

COMPANY PROFILE

 
LARSON EXCAVATING
Employees: 10 
Location: Cave Creek, Ariz.
Cat® equipment:  226 Skid Steer Loader, 226B3 Skid Steer Loader, 259D Compact Track Loader, 303C CR Mini Excavator, 303E CR Mini Excavator, 314C LCR Hydraulic Excavator, 325D L Hydraulic Excavator, 420F2 Backhoe Loader, 938F Wheel Loader, 938G Wheel Loader, 950 Wheel Loader (3), H70 Hammer, H130 Hammer, CVP16 Vibratory Plate Compactor
 
 

WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT CAT® EQUIPMENT

 
Due to the difficult soil conditions his crews encounter, machine durability is important to Mike Larson, owner of Larson Excavating.
 
“We count on our Cat machines to work in a variety of soil and solid rock conditions, and the attachments give us the tools we need to break through rock and excavate hard-packed soil,” Larson says. “Uptime is also critical, and we know we can depend on our Cat equipment to run at all times and help us complete our work on time for our customers.”
 
With the Tier 4 Final engines, he says he is experiencing 25 percent greater fuel efficiency with the 420F2 Backhoe Loader. 
 
“As opposed to filling up the tank just over once a day, I can fill up now every two days. There is a noticeable difference in the fuel efficiency of the new machines.”
 

WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT EMPIRE

 
“My salesman is David Clark with Empire, and he has always been very knowledgeable about all of the equipment,” Larson says. “And at the end of the day, he makes sure that I am taken care of—one way or another. Whether it involves getting a loaner machine or whatever it takes, he makes it happen. 
 
“He is also very familiar with Cat Financial,” Larson continues. “I don’t have time to read contracts and go through every single detail. He brings up those items and goes through it with me, and makes it very painless.”
 
 
 
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