Construction is a family tradition at Boyce Excavating. Jack Boyce founded the downstate New York company in 1939. Today, Boyce Excavating is in its fourth generation as a family-owned and operated business.
Tradition includes the use of Cat® construction equipment.
“My grandfather owned Caterpillar. My great-grandfather owned Caterpillar. My dad owned Caterpillar,” said Garry Boyce, president and the fourth generation of the family to head the company.
Garry has continued that tradition, but not because that’s the way it’s always been done. The use of Cat machines, grade control technology and GPS equipment trackers helps the company’s bottom line. And AccuGrade™ Grade Control System is the biggest improvement in equipment Boyce has seen in his career.
“It eliminates a surveyor and one other employee on most jobs,” Boyce said. “It controls material quantities, and it’s a lot faster than grading using stakes.”
Utilizing digital design data, in-cab operator guidance features, and automatic blade controls, the AccuGrade Grade Control System greatly improves grading accuracy and productivity, while reducing the number of passes needed to meet specified elevations.
Crews are able to work approximately twice as fast using AccuGrade. “We’re putting down 3,000 tons of aggregate a day now. We did 1,000 to 1,500 tons with surveyors, stakes, and a conventional dozer,” Boyce said. “It’s definitely faster, and that helps us to be more aggressive on tight schedules.”
The system helps Boyce Excavating strip topsoil more efficiently. “You know exactly where the boundaries are, where the grass area and parking lot are located. You’re not moving any dirt twice. You strip the topsoil, and get it out of the parking lot. You do it once,” Boyce said.
Boyce Excavating specializes in commercial site work, excavating, and grading, and works primarily within a 70-mile radius of its headquarters in Slate Hill, New York.
Site work jobs are typically in the $3 million to $5 million range. Boyce Excavating generally works as prime contractor. “It’s less risky financially than working as a subcontractor,” Boyce said.
AccuGrade enables the company to use a sharper pencil when drafting excavating bids. “We can definitely lower our numbers, knowing that we’re not going to waste 10 percent of our aggregate or call a surveyor back to stake out a parking lot. We factor the use of AccuGrade into our efficiency and our time, and lower our price,” Boyce said.
Because the system enables the company to work faster, it has helped Boyce Excavating win bids for public jobs. “It all comes down to how quickly the work can be completed,” Boyce said. “Knowing that we have AccuGrade, we weren’t afraid of bidding $4 million for site work at a school that had a tight completion date. With stakes and surveyors, we would have been more hesitant to bid on the job.”
Boyce was sold on the grading system after trying it himself at a jobsite. “I was in the dozer for ten minutes, and called the salesman and told him to drop one off,” Boyce said. “I knew going into it that the blade was going to hold grade, but the efficiency of topsoil stripping and knowing exactly where you are on a jobsite was unexpected.”
Boyce Excavating also uses Product Link™, a GPS equipment tracker, to help manage the company’s fleet more efficiently, as well as monitor machine performance.
“It’s helpful to be able to locate the machines, and to be able to check the hours for servicing purposes,” Boyce said. “We have 100 pieces of equipment, and I can monitor the whole fleet from my desk with Product Link. We don’t have to drive to a jobsite to check the hours on a machine.”
Product Link’s customized health and utilization reports alert the company to any machine problems. This enables repairs before small problems escalate. “It’s nice to plug in a computer and be able to diagnose what’s wrong with an engine, versus cracking injectors with a wrench and lying underneath a machine all day,” Boyce said.
Using a GPS equipment tracker like Product Link also helps the company improve machine uptime, which is a high priority during New York’s relatively short grading/excavation season. “We work maybe six or seven months a year, depending on the winter,” Boyce said. “We have to finish everything in that time.”
Boyce Excavating focuses on preventive maintenance during the off-season. Product Link’s performance reports help the company schedule maintenance without worry. “We kind of shift gears because we’re trying to cram all of our work into a short season,” Boyce said.
Saving Big Money
Machines are purchased through Cat Financial. “Everything we buy is through Cat Financial. Cat Financial even consolidated other loans to lower interest rates from 7.5 percent down to 4 percent on big loans like a million dollars. That saved us big money,” Boyce said.
The high resale value of Cat machines is also a factor when purchasing equipment. “You wear out the competition’s excavator, and it’s basically scrap,” Boyce said. “My old Cat machines, if I want to trade them in, they’re probably triple the value of other brands.”
Parts availability and dealer support make Cat machines an easy choice. “Parts availability sells Caterpillar. We get the parts immediately or the next day,” Boyce said.
As the company moves forward, Boyce strives to work as efficiently as possible. Cat machines, grade control technology and GPS equipment trackers help make this happen. “We want AccuGrade on more machines to help us work more efficiently,” he said.
The use of machines and technology to improve the quality and speed of the work done by Boyce Excavating crews is a tremendous legacy to pass on to future generations that will lead the company.