Scott Bilhardt (L) and his Briggs JCB sales representative Darius Prentice discuss the upcoming tasks that Bigdogz Crane & Tree will use the versatile JCB 1CXT compact backhoe loader for.

A few years ago, Scott Bilhardt felt the urge to leave the office and trade his laptop for a device and shove and move some dirt while building a company that he could hand over to his son Jeff when he retired.

Bigdogz Crane & Tree LLC was founded in Jacksonville, Florida. Bilhardt started out with rental equipment – his first purchase was a new one JCB 1CXT compact backhoe loader and was the first to be purchased in the state of Florida and one of the first to be purchased in the United States

Bilhardt announced that he has bought the world’s smallest crawler backhoe loader to help him traverse swampy Florida terrain, he added. With the machine weighing 5 tons, he said it can push more dirt than “the minis” and at just 71 inches wide, it can actually take down a fence panel and drive it straight into a backyard work area with ease.

“The machine’s control levers are very responsive, and we had them in areas where we only had a few centimeters between a fence and the side of a building,” said Bilhardt. “In addition, the loading capacities are excellent and we can pick up some sizeable bushes and trees with a grab attachment.”

The main reason why Bilhardt decided to buy this special machine directly is the completely enclosed cabin with heat and air.

“You can use it most of the year and because you are hermetically sealed, you are protected from the elements,” he said. “That’s especially important down here, where summer is the rainiest time of the year and we just don’t stop working. I just walk through the elements unless it’s just too muddy or I’m steering into a swamp. “

Another important feature for Bilhardt is the machine’s ability to handle a wide variety of attachments.

“The attachments really make the machine what it is,” he said. “I have a wide range of attachments, including pallet forks, a dozer blade, a high-performance mower, a rock grab, light and heavy 4-in-1 shovels, a landscape rake and other things. The special thing about this machine is that we have two attachments with the machine fit into a two-axle 14 foot dump trailer and everything fits perfectly and we’re ready to roll ‘can use pretty much any type of attachment. “

Bigdogz mainly uses the 4-in-1 spoon and grapple for tree work. For everything that cannot be handled with its tipping trailer, the company calls for a grapple to remove heavier dirt that is beyond the normal range.

The 4-in-1 bucket / 1CXT combo is great for repairing dirt and gravel driveways – a very common occurrence in rural Florida, especially in the rainy season when driveways are washed out.

“We load the machine and 5 tons of rock, drive into an entrance area and tip it and use the machine-attachment combination to move it efficiently,” said Bilhardt. “When doing this kind of work, we remove the teeth of the shovel to create a smooth surface for clearing work right next to the driveway and to bring back washed away gravel.”

Bilhardt said his machine was “modern” because he saw what “the other guys” pulled a 24-ft. Trailer with a compact crawler loader and a mini excavator on it. That’s typical of how they “roll out,” he said. “So it’s one machine – several attachments. If you need to dig a trench right next to a foundation, you can slide the excavator arm left or right on either side and stand right next to a building and flush with the structure and dump it 90 degrees to the side of the machine. And the machine has stabilizers that make this type of work even more efficient and precise. The sliding arm in combination with an extendable arm makes it extremely versatile. “

The simplicity of the power management system, which affects speed, responsiveness, traction and anti-lock protection, was a big selling point. “You want to go fast; you choose it for speed,” he said. “You want more power for the tracks and the front end; you turn the rotary switch in the other direction.”

Bilhardt first heard about this machine when he was working for a very large engineering company for about 25 years. The company was doing mega-construction projects … some worth $ 2 or $ 3 billion with cranes and some of the largest equipment available. So Bilhardt knew what machines did.

The JCB 1CXT was a unique machine that he had in mind since its inception. He said this machine had been around for four or five years, or maybe longer, but it wasn’t sold in North America because it didn’t have a Tier IV engine.

“I have actually watched the development of this device for several years and even sent messages to JCB requesting it,” he said. “When I finally noticed that the machine was available for pre-order in the USA, I immediately got in touch with Darius [Prentice of Briggs JCB] and we worked out the details.

“If anyone questions the value or worth of this machine, all I can say is buy a 50 or 75 hp compact track loader and then buy a small excavator. This is by far the better deal and has both machines in one . “

Bilhardt added that the 1CXT machine is ideal for its earth and gravel work, road repairs, tree work and clearing, and works well with larger excavators for fine dirt work and material movement.

“In contrast to a compact crawler loader, the 1CXT has a roomy entrance on the side and you sit high in an air-conditioned cabin where you stay dry in a machine with good visibility whatever the weather,” he said, adding, jokingly, “If ever If a hurricane came while I was on a construction site, I would hide in that machine. “

The 12.6-inch. Crawlers provide very low ground pressure for traversing bumps and dirt on the ground while also providing the ability to work on a construction site without anyone chewing up the lawn, he said. In the swampy areas, Bilhardt sees himself as having an advantage over the wheel excavators. “This one machine can do my job,” he said.

Bilhardt relies on Briggs JCB for the service of the machine and gave the sales staff high marks.

“Darius [Prentice], my Briggs JCB salesperson has been absolutely excellent, “he said.” He’s the ultimate salesperson and really understands my needs. He walked me through the process of finding the right attachments for the machine. He was patient with me as a ‘newbie’ on this new machine. “

Prentice said that Bilhardt’s machine actually sold another 1CXT for him.

“I got a call from a custom builder looking for an excavator attachment arm for the front of a compact track loader and they told me what they would use it for,” Prentice said. “I said I had the perfect machine for him and a contact. This contractor came with his operator and met me and Scott [Bilhardt] and they checked this machine on a construction site. In the end they bought one. This customer called the other day to tell me their machine is great and is all I said and they really appreciated it. “

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