Saturdays, Too

Saturdays, Too

With three crews in the woods, generally working six days a week, machine uptime is critical for Santee Pole & Piling, Inc., Manning, S.C., to keep pace with the company’s workload.

A durable Cat® fleet, information gleaned from Product LinkTM that enables preventive maintenance to keep problems from escalating, daily walk-around inspections by operators, and outstanding dealer service help keep uptime above 95 percent.

“These machines run steady for us day in and day out. That’s important. We pretty much work every Saturday,” says Hunter Holladay, vice president. “We’ve got steady, hardworking machines that we can count on.”

Santee Pole & Piling, Inc., typically runs two crews to fulfill a contract with a pine sawmill. The third crew works to meet the demands of the private market. A total of 12 employees work in the woods, and harvest approximately 200,000 tons annually. “We contract with a pine sawmill, so most of our wood is pine,” says Ken Holladay, who founded the company in 1989, and is Hunter’s dad.

Contract work provides a steady source of income, and helped Santee Pole & Piling, Inc. weather the Great Recession. “The sawmill that we work for owns a lot of their own land. When things were bad, they wanted us cutting more of their land,” Ken Holladay says. “That helped us during the downturn.”

Dependable Fleet

Working six days a week requires a dependable fleet. That’s why Santee Pole & Piling, Inc. runs only Cat machines: Two 563D Feller Bunchers, a pair of 545D Skidders, a 525C Skidder, 579D Knuckleboom Loader, 559C Knuckleboom Loader, 538 Forest Machine and a 521B Feller Buncher.

When Product Link™ data indicates that a machine needs work, Blanchard Cat provides a replacement to keep the crew working while repairs are made. “That tells me so much. That’s the reason that I run Cat equipment,” Ken Holladay says.

Hunter Holladay notes, “A lot of this is preventive maintenance. Blanchard Cat technicians catch things before they become problems.”

Operators help keep machine uptime high with daily walk-arounds. “They check the fluids and the oil, and that sort of thing. They do daily greasing, or every other day greasing, to keep up with the machines,” Hunter Holladay says.

Ken Holladay purchased his first Cat skidder in 1997. “The whole Cat network has been great for me. Blanchard is a fantastic dealership. We use Cat Financial and Cat Insurance. It’s a one-stop shop. It works well for us. It saves us a lot of time,” he says.

Stronger, Faster

Efficiency and productivity of Cat machines has improved over the years. “The production versus the cost is far better than it used to be,” Ken Holladay states. “The machines have gotten bigger, faster, stronger, so they produce more wood.”

Cat machines are easy to operate, too. Hunter Holladay knows this firsthand. When needed, he’ll operate a machine to keep a crew working at full strength. “With the new technologies, they’re not difficult to operate. I enjoy it,” he says. “They’re smooth operating, quiet and comfortable. They’re great machines.”

The Cat machines are able to work in the muddy, slick conditions that have plagued South Carolina. “We’ve had two floods and just tremendous rainfall the last three years,” Ken Holladay states. “We’ve been running dual tires to cut in wet places. We haven’t taken them off for three years, except on thinning jobs.”

No matter the conditions, Santee Pole & Piling, Inc. crews are working in the woods, six days a week.


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Caterpillar Forest Products customer testimonial – Santee Pole and Piling

In the Know

Machine operators know the fleet better than anyone. At the controls day after day, and with close-up looks during daily walk-around inspections, operators know the fleet inside and out. Operators at Santee Pole & Piling, Inc., Manning, S.C., like what they see of the Cat® machines they run.


Poston Reed, an operator for 44 years, says the 563D Feller Buncher is the best machine that he’s run. “I’ve run a lot of machines, and the 563D is the best I’ve ever been on,” Reed says. “I just love the buncher.”

He adds, “The cab is well built and the machine is put together well. Sometimes, part of a tree will break off and fall back on the cab. I feel real safe in this cab.”

James Ransom, skidder operator, has been running Cat skidders for 10 years. He likes the new high rotation seat in the D Series machines. “It makes it a lot easier to back down the rows on the thinning jobs. It’s a lot easier on your neck not having to look behind you the whole time,” Ransom says. “That seat has air ride and shock spring, so at the end of the day, I feel a lot better.” The Cat Advanced Ride Management seat-suspension system features semi-active suspension that dampens vibration and minimizes end stop events, significantly improving operator comfort.

Ransom also likes the way that the winch is set up on the D Series Skidders. “You can turn the seat backwards, and see what you’re doing when operating the winch,” he says. “That makes it easy to do the work.”

Santee Pole & Piling Cat Fleet:

  • 538 Forest Machine
  • 521B, 563D (2) Feller Bunchers
  • 525C, 545D (2) Skidders
  • 559C, 579D Knuckleboom Loaders


Santee Pole and Piling


Ken Holladay, President and Hunter Holladay, Vice President.

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