SALEM, Ala.- Walter Cox is living out a dream. A daydream to be specific.
One day about six years ago the former Alabama dump truck operator was delivering a load, considering the present and contemplating his future.
It was at that time, Cox says, that the idea for a large-scale, inland recreational fishing park emerged.
"All of a sudden it hit me," said Cox, owner of Corbett Creek Ventures. "I love to fish and I had the land. I figured, 'Why not?'"
The land is a 200-acre dairy farm purchased by Cox's grandfather in 1947, nearly half of which is being developed by Cox and his crew into a unique recreational fishing park he hopes will one day draw thousands to his hometown of Salem, Ala., midway between Auburn, Ala. and Columbus, Ga.
When it opens in Spring 2006, that operation will include a 2-acre tournament lake, three "fish by the pound" lakes, each 2-3 acres in size, and a 5-plus acre lake for trophy bass fishing.
Until then, Cox and his Corbett Creek group are operating a successful surface mining business as they prepare the site, selling material to local grading and site contractors.
At present, Cox and crew are using a single Volvo EC210B excavator to remove what eventually will total about 1.2 million yd3 of material from the family farm.
"I couldn't be more satisfied than I am with the Volvo," Cox said. "The way it performs just blows me away."
New to the excavation business
When he decided to build the fishing park, Cox had the vision and the land. What he lacked was startup capital that would have allowed him to hire a grading contractor to prep the site.
With no other alternative, Cox decided he had to do the work himself.
"I had trouble at first," Cox said. "My experience was with farm tractors, I had never run a piece of heavy equipment in my life."
Before beginning the project, Cox bought a 12- year-old excavator that soon failed. He followed that purchase with another older unit, which also failed. "I knew right then that it was time to step up to a new unit," Cox said.
"I started to demo everything I could get my hands on," he said. "I tried them all: Deere, Kobelco, Hitachi, Komatsu."
Cox said that he eventually narrowed his buying decision down to either of his two most recent demo units - Deere or Komatsu.
Then he was introduced to the Volvo.
"I was trying to decide between the Deere and the Komatsu until my Volvo salesman convinced me to give his machine a shot," Cox said. "To say the least, I'm glad that I did."
Cox said that the EC210B clearly outperformed any other excavator he had operated. He was so impressed by its performance that he made his buying decision within minutes.
"The Volvo hit the ground at 10 a.m. on a Friday morning," he said. "I loaded two trucks and then got out. I said to my operator, 'Hop up there on that Volvo. That's your new machine.'
"For two weeks I went back and forth between the Deere and the Komatsu," Cox said. "Then all it took was for me to load two trucks, and I knew that the Volvo was it."