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The Power of Innovative Technologies

Luke Parmenter, Owner, L&S Earthworx
Luke Parmenter, Owner, L&S Earthworx
In the fast-paced construction industry, where time is money, there is a constant demand for innovative technologies that can enhance efficiency and productivity. Among the game-changing combinations that have emerged, one stands out: the Mecalac 9 MWR Excavator paired with a tiltrotator and grade control system. Luke Parmenter – an experienced construction entrepreneur and the Owner of L&S Earthworx based in Ellensburg, Washington – recognized the immense potential of these technologies and seamlessly integrated them into his operations, reaping remarkable results.
Embracing Innovation
Parmenter's drive to stay ahead of the competition led him to make a bold decision nearly two years ago – investing in the Mecalac 9MWR Excavator. This choice was not impulsive; it was the culmination of careful consideration. Fascinated by a video he had seen of the machine's capabilities, Parmenter made a point to visit exhibitions at Bauma in 2018 and CONEXPO in 2020, where he had the opportunity to learn more and interact with Mecalac representatives. However, acquiring the equipment was not without its challenges. With the nearest United States dealer located over 2,800 miles away in Massachusetts, Parmenter had to patiently wait until Q Dig It in Idaho became a dealer. Finally, the stars aligned and Parmenter could purchase the Mecalac. Pairing it with his tiltrotator and grade control system was a no-brainer.

“I bought it to complement a five-ton mini-excavator, which now I'm selling,” Parmenter said. “They both fit pretty much the same area, but the Mecalac reaches further, can load trucks easier, can lift more, has wheels, and is easier to get around the site with.”

In addition to the machine's performance, Parmenter placed importance on maintenance and service support. He attests to receiving exceptional care and support from the dealer. When a faulty sensor issue arose, the dealer promptly shipped a replacement and dispatched a technician to Parmenter's job site, going above and beyond expectations. This outstanding customer service and support further solidified Parmenter's satisfaction with his choice.

Furthermore, Parmenter appreciates the thoughtful design and features of the Mecalac 9MWR. The machine's centralized grease points make maintenance a breeze, eliminating the need to crawl all over the excavator for lubrication. Moreover, the low fuel fill location enables swift and efficient refueling – minimizing downtime.

Parmenter's work often requires him to maneuver in tight spaces between buildings. The Mecalac's unique design enables him to spin the machine around effortlessly, allowing him to operate with precision and efficiency. “I get myself in between buildings a lot where I have to be able to spin all the way around. I can pretty much put the bucket right on top of the cab, and essentially spin just over the width of the machine. Whereas the five-ton machine, because you can't put the bucket up that far, it actually takes more room to spin,” he explained.

Versatility and Cost Efficiency
As a subcontractor working on projects that larger construction companies find economically unfeasible to maintain large crews on-site, Parmenter values the Mecalac's versatility. He deliberately chose this machine over alternatives such as skid steers or telehandlers because it combines the functionalities of an excavator, telehandler, and skid steer.
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He chose the wheeled excavator because it offers unmatched versatility compared to a track excavator. Its mobility and maneuverability on both paved surfaces and rough terrain make it suitable for a wide range of projects. “I don't spend a bunch of time traveling around tracking it at three miles an hour, I can go 15 mph across the whole job,” he emphasized. “I can run over, grab a scoop of gravel, bring it to where I need it, drop materials, grab pallets of stuff, and just get it right where I need it.”

Although the initial cost may be slightly higher, his setup offers the convenience of performing multiple tasks with a single machine, streamlining logistics and reducing the need for additional equipment or personnel.

Parmenter elaborated on the cost savings, “If you get two guys that are standing around all day, you would be paying $80 to $90 an hour. Add in your insurance and everything else – your actual cost is probably $150 an hour, which is pretty crazy. If you start adding up the savings, a grade control, tiltrotator, wheeled machine that can do more than one thing, it's kind of a no brainer, right? The only challenge is that you have to invest in efficiency upfront before fully realizing the benefits.”

The Steelwrist tiltrotator, a rotating attachment that allows the bucket to be positioned at any angle, empowered Parmenter and his operators to navigate tight spaces and work seamlessly around obstacles. “I bought one of the first steel wrists that came to the U.S. People thought I was crazy,” commented Parmenter. “I mean, every step of the way people said, ‘You can't get a tiltrotator, you're not going to have a thumb’. I watched them in Europe, they don't have thumbs, they still get work done. And then you think about how you can move the bucket around and honestly, I don't use my thumb that much, everybody thought I was nuts.” Today, rotating attachments have become increasingly popular and versatile, including options such as buckets, grapples, sweepers, and pallet forks.

Parmenter was also among the first contractors in his area with a MOBA grade control system. “I can do jobs faster – and efficiency is the name of the game because the jobs only pay so much, right? So when you get in and out, save a couple of days, that's money. Then you're on to the next job and you're making money there. And the contractor you were working for is happy that you got done earlier than they needed it done. It just kind of compounds,” he said.

“All the money that I've spent on the wheeled excavator, the grade control, and tiltrotator, it's a no brainer. And I'm a little guy. But I think nobody wants to be the first one to step outside the line, and it's going to be the same with these machines. Once one big outfit in your area decides this is the direction they're going to go, then everybody else can kind of look at him and say, they do pretty good work they're pretty smart – it must make sense if they did it. And then all of a sudden, it just takes off.”

Looking Ahead
With an eye toward the future, Parmenter plans to further enhance the versatility of his operations by adding a dump trailer that can be towed and powered directly by the Mecalac. This addition will enable convenient transportation of materials, optimizing backfilling and material hauling, while adding another layer of efficiency to his workflow.

Through the integration of the Mecalac 9 MWR Excavator, tiltrotator, and grade control system, Parmenter and L&S Earthworx have experienced a significant transformation in construction efficiency. These innovative technologies have proven to be true game changers, offering improved capabilities, enhanced versatility, and substantial cost savings. Parmenter's visionary approach and willingness to invest in cutting-edge equipment have positioned him as an industry leader, setting a precedent for others to follow. As the construction landscape evolves, the power of innovation continues to revolutionize efficiency and productivity, pushing boundaries and shaping the future of the construction industry.

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