Sometimes as a landscaper you run across a piece of equipment that once you own it, you don't know how your company ever operated without it. For landscaper Bob Tunzi, that piece of equipment is his Bobcat MT55 mini track loader.
"We do primarily residential renovation projects, so we work in a lot of tight places," says Tunzi, owner of Tunzi & Sons, Crestwood, Ill. "Our MT55 has become such a valuable piece of equipment because we're always working in someone's backyard and we work a lot on existing turf. I can name off about 30 projects that we've used it for. We use it every day."
In fact, a recent job in which Tunzi used his Bobcat MT55 mini track loader was for renovating the area around a customer's underground swimming pool. The assignment involved tearing out the existing dilapidated wooden deck surrounding the pool and then creating a backyard haven complete with a 5-foot retaining wall, 1,800 square feet of pavers, four 5-foot pillars with aluminum fencing, a gazebo, and a hot tub area.
Though this was a large project with several different landscaping components, Tunzi says the hardest obstacle to overcome was gaining access to the secluded job site. "There were wooded areas on two sides and the house on the other, so there was really only one way in and out of the backyard," he says. "We could not get our big machine in no matter what we wanted to do."
So like on many jobs, Tunzi had to rely on his MT55 to transport all of the base materials into the backyard. Tunzi and his crew used both bucket and pallet fork attachments to transport dirt, sand, pavers, and other materials. In addition, they also used a trencher attachment to dig trenches for the installation of drain tiles.
"Part of the reason why I decided to buy the MT55 was because it had the hydraulic power to run a tiller, soil conditioner, auger, and all of those other attachments that we would want to use in confined jobsite areas," he says.
And don't let its size fool you. With its 23.5-horsepower diesel engine, Tunzi says the MT55 has the power to dig in tight areas, too. Oftentimes, with the Bobcat mini track loader, he says they are able to go right through customers' backyard gates to dig out old patios and decks and to perform grading for retaining walls. In the past, crews would have performed such work by hand. Tunzi says it would sometimes take as many as three crew members to perform the digging, load the dirt into a wheelbarrow and then dump it. But today, it takes only one worker using the MT55 to perform all of those tasks.
"We bring that dirt across our customers' existing yards with virtually no damage to the lawn, dump it into the driveway or onto the street, and then scoop it up with our full-size skid-steer loader, which loads the material into our trucks to haul away," says Tunzi, commenting on the mini track loader's low ground pressure of 4.1 psi. "So the amount of labor that you're saving by not digging by hand is tremendous."
This job has been one of Tunzi's more difficult landscaping projects for several reasons. Because of the project's many components, Tunzi & Sons has served as the general contractor and has had to hire concrete, electrical and tree service subcontractors. In addition to working around those subcontractors' schedules in order to get work completed, Tunzi has had to contend with Mother Nature. Fortunately, the MT55 comes with a rubber-track undercarriage. The Bobcat mini track loader also features an easy-to-remove ride-on platform, which prevents Tunzi and his workers from having to walk through mud.
"With the MT55, we just plowed right through the mud, and we never had any problems with it getting stuck,"he says.