Brothers Build Company With a 100+ Cat® Machine Fleet

 

Seventeen years ago, the Leach brothers started with a $750 pickup truck and two welding machines. Skill, hard work and tendency to say yes when their customers asked for help quickly built their reputation for quality and performance.

One opportunity led to another, and as their projects were successfully completed, the capabilities of their company grew, as did their range of products and services.

Today, Loenbro of Great Falls, Montana is a leading-edge energy services and construction company with more than 800 professionals working on as many as a dozen projects across five states. As their work continues to expand in the burgeoning Bakken and beyond, president/co-founder Paul Leach and his brother Jon divvy up responsibilities for managing multiple Loenbro divisions.

“The key strength of our organization is our people,” says Paul Leach. “This is a tough region to work in with scorching summer heat and freezing winter temperatures that can hit 30 below zero. But many of our employees are from around here and have a strong work ethic and positive attitudes so they know how to deal with the frozen ground and nasty weather. They are what set us apart.”

 

Paul is a certified opportunist who overflows with the contagious enthusiasm of a kid at Christmas when he talks about his business, his people or living life to the fullest. Last year they put more than 900 miles of pipe in the ground in the Bakken. Loenbro’s largest project to date was a 90-mile pipeline placing 16 inch diameter pipe.

Loenbro handles every aspect of the pipeline operations on a turnkey basis— from clearing Right of Way and removing topsoil, hauling in and streaming pipe, welding the pipe sections together, trenching and lowering in the pipe—to backfilling, compacting, dozing the topsoil back into place and seeding.

In order to meet the 24/7 work schedules on its many projects, Loenbro relies upon a fleet of hundreds of trucks and machines, including more than 100 Cat® machines.

Why Cat Machines

“Caterpillar is such a vast company that when you need something, they can find it for you,” Paul says. “That’s one real big factor in our purchase decision, especially here in the Bakken with its relentless growth and huge demand for machines. So just getting the machines you need, when you need them, is huge. Then, there’s the quality and reputation of Cat products, plus their excellent parts and service support and strong resale value. Caterpillar and our Cat dealer, Tractor & Equipment, continue to be able to provide us with the equipment we need.”

Rental/Purchase Options Acquisition Strategy

Access to Cat Financial is a great asset of Caterpillar.

“They offer a lot of flexibility—whether we purchase outright, secure loans or opt for flex leases or Rental/Purchase Options (RPOs),” he says. “We’ve done a variety of different things with Cat Financial that have helped Loenbro grow and keep us liquid. We grew so fast that we needed a lot of help and Cat Financial stepped up and offered lots of different options and creative financing strategies that really helped us out.” 

Loenbro found the RPO support from Cat Financial especially useful.

“The flexibility of the RPOs is very attractive to us,” says Paul. “We’ve always been very conservative with debt. Especially now with the oil price down and some others maybe not able to meet their debt service, it’s a good opportunity for us to grow.”

 

“WE GREW SO FAST THAT WE NEEDED A LOT OF HELP AND CAT FINANCIAL STEPPED UP AND OFFERED LOTS OF DIFFERENT OPTIONS AND CREATIVE FINANCING STRATEGIES THAT REALLY HELPED US OUT.” 

 

“I know Caterpillar appreciates our business because pretty much everything we’ve had on RPO, we’ve ended up buying as we kept winning more work,” he continues. “It’s nice to have the flexibility to turn the machine in if we don’t get that next job; or keep it if we want to build equity, so it’s a good program for us.” 

Machine Performance

“The productivity of our Cat machines has been great,” says Paul Leach. “We don’t have much downtime with them. With their resources, Caterpillar and T&E have been able to provide the necessary service to keep them running in this very difficult, demanding work environment. When something does go down on the machine, we’re able to get it up and going again very quickly, so production has been great with Cat equipment.”

Product Support

Zach Adkins, implementation and heavy equipment manager for Loenbro calls Product Link™ a great system that is operational on every piece of equipment that Loenbro purchases from Caterpillar. The fleet is comprised of hundreds of machines currently assigned to jobs across six states. “We’re using Product Link to monitor machine hours, equipment location and maintenance on every piece of equipment,” Adkins says. “We’re also monitoring all the sensors and fuel burn. Basically, we are utilizing every piece of information that Product Link can provide in one form or another.”

 

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 “Parts and service support from Caterpillar and T&E has all been absolutely great,” Paul says.  “We’re able to get the parts when we need them and T&E has enough stores close enough that you can usually get it the next day, even if they don’t have it in Williston or whatever area that we’re working. They always get it to us really fast.”

As a testament to the strong customer relationships that Loenbro has been able to build over the years, the company’s first client was with a two-week project back in 1998. Predictably, the brothers said yes when asked if they could stay on and do some other work—Loenbro is still working with that first customer today.

 

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