Out there, you might find Perry’s equipment building levees as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges federal waterways for marine transportation. At other times, you might find him working on a marsh restoration project. Still others, he might be constructing terraces that serve to collect sediment when the tide goes out, gradually restoring solid, dry land to an area that had become a marsh.
“We do anything to do with soft terrain, where conventional equipment can’t come in,” Perry says.
Now let’s say you wanted to find Perry out there. It might take an hour by boat to get there, through some of the most inhospitable swamp and marsh you might find. And wildlife? There’s plenty. From deer to alligators.
And once you’re there, Perry’s excavators dominate the skyline with their long booms and huge undercarriages that stand 6 feet high and are 30 feet long and 20 feet wide. They operate in no more than 4½ feet of water.And if you really want to see something, watch them float. For short distances, in calm water, you can stick an outboard motor on an excavator and move it from point A to point B.
Fast and dependable
But that excavator mounted on top of that marsh buggy is important, which is why Perry likes his Volvo excavator so much.
He bought his a bit by happenstance. Two years ago, he was in a pinch, and that Volvo EC210B long-reach was the only one available. But his operators recommended it to him. He’s not been sorry.
“No. 1 is dependability, which I find Volvo has been for me over the years,” Perry says. “Sometimes it’s an hour boat ride to get in and out of the swamp and marsh areas. That’s why we need a dependable machine. If we break down in these areas, we could be past our hip in mud and marsh and muck and alligators. It’s important for it to perform and not break down. All machines do, but Volvo has been very dependable.”
Perry is serviced by Scott Equipment Company of New Orleans and salesman Dean Hall.
“We get excellent service. They’re on time,” Perry says. “Whenever we have a problem, they really push to get us out.”
But efficiency is crucial, too. When you’re in the marshes, you can’t afford to struggle with a slow machine, slogging around all day. You need something quick and easy to use. Perry says the quick cycle times of his Volvo machine set him up well. It’s got all the power it needs with the Volvo 147-horsepower D6E engine.
“For any kind of dirt job I’m doing, it’s very productive,” he says. “I bid these turnkey jobs, which is very important to me. A turnkey job is a hard number job, and as a lot of contractors know, it’s important in making, breaking even or losing money. I can make more money with Volvo, because of the cycle times and the dependability.”
In the pit
Perry’s current job, however, is unconventional even for him. He’s been working to fill in some old pits with soil displaced from a major federal pumping station, part of the response to Hurricane Katrina. This isn’t a swamp. It’s an enormous man-made pit, partially full of water.
And so an amphibious excavator is in order. Perry has been working his machine 24 hours a day moving 50,000 cubic yards of dirt, some of it dry and some of it wet. Just after the first of the year, another half-million yards are expected to come in, all brought by dump truck and left for Perry’s Volvo excavator to move around. Operator Gene Burkes, impressed with the power of the machine, says he’s ready for it.
“It’s a good machine. It’s quick, which is important in our line of work,” he says. “It won’t get a break — period.”
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