What's Behind "Hands-on" Coverage?

What's Behind "Hands-on" Coverage?

February 20, 2012

What kind of information do you need before buying iron? At Construction Equipment, we think we know.

I was sure I knew. That is, until I actually started working here, for the publication I like to call “The Granddaddy of Them All.” (My apologies to the Rose Bowl, Keith Jackson, and the BCS. Okay, not the BCS; they can pound sand.)

CE has been doing evaluative machine coverage for a couple of decades. I’ve had an unusually fortunate career in that time, writing in public relations, advertising, and custom publishing, either on behalf of or with three of the biggest brands in the equipment industry.

The ones that start with “C,” “C,” and “D,” if you’re wondering.

One thing that was always as constant as the Northern Star (my apologies to William Shakespeare) was that EVERY manufacturer wanted to be in Editor Walt Moore’s “Hands-on Earthmoving” or “Field Test.” These are two of CE’s evaluative features designed to give you the insight you can’t get anywhere else. They’re industry icons.

What the top equipment brands always saw was what I had seen: years of objective evaluations by real, independent operating engineers from Local 150, the Taj Mahal of operator training facilities (Hands-on), or mano a mano testing between a manufacturer’s new model and the one it replaced (Field Test). 

Walt Moore – and his more than 30 years of construction journalism experience – calls the shots. Nothing is rigged; nothing’s bought and paid for. Believe me, I’ve lived the difference.

What I didn’t know was exactly how Walt does it. How he gets the information you need. Now I do.

He lets operators be operators. In the dirt.

Then he lets them talk, without leading them where an OEM might want them to go. Unfiltered opinions, straight from the cab, through three points of contact on down, to the voice recorder.

Make that three digital voice recorders.

See, over the years he’s noted that changes in wind angle and velocity on a job site can wreak havoc with just one recorder, maybe drowning out an important point.

The man is Renaissance thorough in a short attention span age.

You say it’s only 35 degrees outside, with a damp, raw wind racing across the flatlands like tabloid reporters toward celebrity death? Walt doesn’t care. He’s listening in on every comment, every aside, every conversation operators have with one another. The tests and the hours go by. He’s right there.

Then Walt zeros in on a few key questions in a final, informal interview. He knows just how to draw these guys out. Then he goes home and thaws out. Then he writes. The result is in-depth coverage that helps you make meaningful comparisons and buying decisions.

You can’t short shrift or Tweet this stuff.

In a way, it’s just operators talking to operators, through our pages, and on our website.

And that’s the beauty of what Walt does. Nobody does it better (final apologies go to songwriters Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager, of all people).