Steele Knows Dirt
Natural Gas Boom Grows Contractor’s Earthmoving Business
With a name like Steele in Pennsylvania, you’d expect Steele Construction, Inc. owner Bill Steele to specialize in structural steel construction, or to own a foundry. Instead, he is recognized as one of the premier builders of timber-framed homes in the state. As new housing-starts dipped during the latest economic recession, Steele further grew his business on the strength of the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom.
Bill Steele said:
We were lucky enough to get into a gas contract, and now our company is pretty much evenly split between the building of heavy timber frame and moving dirt.
The company specializes in site reclamation at new gas extraction sites after a well pad is finished. Typically, the area involved is about 1 acre (4,000 m²), but the surrounding area, including access routes, that was affected by the construction must be put back to its natural state.
Time is money and the gas companies want the reclaiming done within a tight time-line. The only way we could do it is with bigger equipment.
As a result, the company has invested in four new dozers - two 850L dozers and two 2050M dozers from Case Construction Equipment. The biggest change came with the size of the two 2050Ms (214 horsepower, 45,414 pounds).
We went from very small to very big. It was a big step for us and I am happy to tell you it was the best step we ever did. We get on the jobs faster, we get off the jobs faster and we are actually making more money with the bigger dozers.
Right-Sizing the Fleet
Outfitted with a 6.3 yd³ (4.82 m³) blade and featuring 81,000 pounds (36,740 kg) of drawbar pull, the 2050M represents a major increase in the company’s earthmoving power – without making it too difficult for Steele to transport the machine from site to site.
The roads up there are very narrow, bridges are small, just happens this is the largest dozer we can get into some of these pads. We still need two permits on this dozer, but we at least can get them across the bridges.
The machine also works well on varied terrain. When reclaiming ponds and other portions of well sites, the dozers occasionally work on steep slopes. The 2050M has proven to be extremely stable and capable of retaining its power, even in sloped conditions.