“As a small, family-owned company that would embrace this technology, we could catch up with the larger construction companies that were resisting the technology,” says Jay Sporer, Co-Owner of Sporer Land Development in Oakley, Kansas. “We could compete with them because of this technology.”
Both Jay and his brother Troy Sporer, co-owners of the firm, credit their father with instilling values that continue to serve the company well.
“Dad had a work ethic and understood how to build,” says Troy, adding that the company still does things “Arlo’s Way” – delivering quality work and treating people honestly.
“He took care of the equipment, he took care of the people and wanted a good project at the end,” says Clayton Wilson, Field Operations Manager at Sporer Land, who has worked at the firm for more than 30 years. “Something we pride ourselves on is ‘Arlo’s Way.’ On a job, we will still ask, ‘What would Arlo do?’”
The couple founded Sporer Land in 1961 as an agricultural earthmoving and soil conservation company, then transitioned into the construction market. It remains family owned and operated, with their sons Troy and Jay leading the company now.
“We do a little bit of everything and we’re passionate about everything we do,” says Jay, who started running a homemade grade rod for land leveling and surveying on flood irrigation projects with his father in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He remembers the family working six days a week and having to grease the equipment before leaving for the day.
About three employees worked at the firm at that time. The company has since grown to employ about 70 people and works within a 250-mile radius from Oakley, including Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Colorado.
“It’s been moving along pretty fast,” says Jay, “We treat every employee as family and value everyone’s opinions.”
The company has diversified into different markets and segments, including utility services, grading and excavation, base stabilization, demolition, concrete paving, crushing recycled materials, and aggregate sales. In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Sporer Land found itself struggling to stay ahead of high-production asphalt prime contractors. Consequently, the company brought in 2D technology to stay ahead. In the last few years, Sporer Land performs earthwork for commercial projects and reconstructs interstates, removing the concrete and recycling it for the subbase. “We use technology to make that grade,” Jay Sporer says.
“This was a game changer and a whole different way of moving dirt,” Troy says. “My father was one of the first people in the country to use automated control on a Caterpillar scraper. Dad got in on the ground floor of precision grading and the technology we have today.”
That automated control technology employed two dimensional and sonic tracers. The 2D evolved into 3D, Jay recalls. Company employees attended classes and learned how to take advantage of the benefits of 3D control. “We were at the front of the 3D revolution,” Jay adds. “It’s been a pretty wild ride.”
Before machine control, Sporer Land could grade a job within 6 inches, Jay says. Today, its crews can grade within a quarter of an inch with its satellite 3D controls and within a few hundredths utilizing automatic total stations.
One of the early difficulties was building a model for the equipment to follow. But now, Ty Elias, a Position Specialist and Surveyor with the company, sets up the models for the GPS equipment. He has worked for the company for 27 years and also can operate the heavy equipment.
“We started out with lasers, went to GPS, and now we’re with Trimble Earthworks,” Elias says. “Everything keeps getting more and more advanced.”
Trimble Earthworks runs on an Android platform for advanced grade control. It is available on excavators, dozers, and graders.
Sporer Land runs mostly Caterpillar machines, from Foley Equipment in Wichita, Kansas, which since 1940 has served Midwest contractors. It operates 15 locations in Kansas and Missouri. “Foley takes good care of us,” Wilson says.
Foley and Caterpillar’s zero-interest financing in the 1990s helped Sporer Land expand. Arlo Sporer did not like to borrow money or pay interest, Troy recalls, “That program accelerated the growth of our business.”
Caterpillar has partnered with Trimble in Caterpillar Trimble Control Technologies. Sporer Land is using a R750 Base Station, R780 Rovers, and SPS985 Rovers for GPS control and SPS930 Total Stations for finish grading and machine control on a recent Kansas highway project.
“This equipment delivers a tighter grade and it helps us,” says Wilson, explaining that allows for more precise laying of base rock without overruns of rock. “Our tolerances are within hundreds versus a tenth.” Wilson adds that those tolerances save the company time and money.
“Our efficiencies are so much higher with this technology,” says Mark Hubert, Estimator and Project Manager for Sporer Land, who worked for the company during summers while in high school and college, and then returned to Oakley and Sporer several years later.
Sporer Land also uses drones. “New technologies have helped move us forward in the world of construction,” Hubert says. “We have had great support from Foley and SITECH. We are open to new technologies, finding out what the benefits are, and how they can progress us forward.”
“This collaboration not only underscores the power of synergistic alliances, but also highlights SITECH Central’s expertise in optimizing and utilization of Trimble GPS equipment,” says Jason Ingram, SITECH Product App and Support Specialist in Wichita, Kansas.
Trimble GPS technology offers unprecedented accuracy and precision in site measurements, earthworks, and grading operations, Ingram says. “By leveraging this advanced technology, Sporer Land Development can now streamline a project’s execution, minimize errors and overages, and enhance overall project quality.”
Trimble GPS equipment provides Sporer with the tools to revolutionize its construction processes. Ingram explains, “Through real-time monitoring, accurate mapping, and machine control, Sporer can ensure the successful completion of projects on time and within budget.”
Ingram anticipates working collaboratively with contractors, such with Sporer Land, will play a pivotal role in infrastructure development. “What once was an advantage to run Trimble technology is now a necessity,” Ingram says.
Looking ahead, Hubert would like to see Sporer Land continue to grow and stay up to date with emerging technologies.
“You either move forward or regress to death,” Hubert says. “The future looks great and strong.”