A One-Man Show

Story by Jared Brox | September 28, 2010

Construction equipment downtime can be expensive, and budgets and deadlines don't wait for service calls — so it is important for contractors to have reliable access to service mechanics in order keep their projects on track. For construction companies that don't service their own equipment, that usually involves calling the local equipment dealer and waiting for the next available field mechanic to make it out to the job site.

Greg Gitke knows this process well. He spent seven years as a field mechanic for a Caterpillar dealership in Gillette, WY, before starting his own independent field service operation, Gitke's Field Service.

Gitke made the decision to go out on his own after listening to his customers share their experiences of going through a dealer's service department in order to get their equipment serviced.

"The customers I worked for at the Cat dealership said it would be nice to have a service mechanic on call that had a lot of experience, but didn't necessarily work for a dealership," Gitke said. "Someone that was experienced with the heavy equipment they use, but also had the abilities of a general mechanic."

Other mechanics Gitke knew in the area had purchased their own field service vehicles and seemed to be happy with the decision.

"The deciding moment for me came one day when a customer told me that if I was to purchase my own truck and was willing to travel, they could guarantee to keep me busy and make it well worth the expense,"he recalled.

So that's exactly what he did. Gitke purchased a Dominator mechanics truck from Iowa Mold Tooling Co. Inc. and started Gitke's Field Service in April 2007. He has been working steadily ever since, spending no fewer than 10 hours a day and usually six to seven days a week in the field on job sites that include everything from grading and excavation to transportation projects. Gitke stays mainly in the Rocky Mountain region, which for him includes an area from Kansas to Utah and New Mexico to Montana. He said the fact that he is willing to travel just about anywhere at any time has been a major factor in his success.

"In my hometown of Gillette, I have a lot of competition. But few of them are willing to travel as much or as far as I do, and that is what has really been key to staying so busy."

The Right Stuff

Gitke said his decision to buy name-brand equipment has paid off as well.

"I like the fact that when anybody on a job site sees my truck, they automatically assume that, because I chose to purchase such high-quality equipment, I must be the caliber of person that they want for the job."

Besides the Dominator body on a Peterbilt chassis, Gitke's vehicle is equipped with an IMT air compressor, a 400-amp welder and an IMT 6025 crane, which he says he chose because of its fast cycle times and because "it always lifts what it is rated to lift with no problem." And because it's not uncommon for him to have to work at night, Gitke also built himself three telescoping halogen work lights that attach to the truck.

Right now Gitke's Field Service is a one-man operation, but he says he would like to expand in the future.

"It's pretty tough to find people who will travel around as much as I do, but in the future I do intend on making a home for myself back in Gillette and not personally traveling so much," Gitke said. "I will also probably look to expand my business in other areas such as oil-field work and mining sites."

Gitke said his next major purchase probably will be an IMT knuckleboom truck. The vehicles and machinery used in the mining industry are much larger than most of the equipment he usually works on, so he will need something with a lot more power. The IMT line of articulating cranes, for example, includes crane models that can handle loads from about 30,000 foot-pounds (about 4,500 pounds maximum lift capacity) to more than 516,000 foot-pounds (about 35,400 pounds maximum lift capacity). This is much more lifting capacity than the typical telescopic service crane: The heftiest telescopic service crane on the market is the IMT 8025 with its 80,000 foot-pounds of lift.

"I couldn't do what I'm doing now without my IMT equipment." Gitke said. "I know it is quality equipment, and it's reliable. Most of the time I work somewhere in the field and the truck supports my entire operation. I can run all of my tools from the truck: air tools, jacks, etc. The crane is definitely important. Without this machinery, my business wouldn't be anywhere near as efficient and successful."

Story provided by Iowa Mold Tooling Co. Inc., Garner, IA.

Author Information
Jared Brox is a writer for Two Rivers Marketing, Des Moines, IA.