This article originally appeared in the October issue of Southern Loggin' Times.
ROBBINSVILLE, NC - Randy Jordan has been the owner and managing partner of Graham County Land Company (GCLC) since 1998. The business specializes in land clearing, earthmoving, erosion control, storm drainage, and debris management. Having successfully completed more than 150 projects across 10 states, GCLC is a go-to name for many clients in the Eastern United States.
Jordan began his career as a dump truck driver in 1987 and worked his way up to Chief Operating Officer of Phillips & Jordan before leaving to focus solely on the land clearing business. He’s overseen more than $1 billion worth of projects throughout his career and managed key debris cleanup efforts following Hurricane Katrina and September 11th. The land clearing projects he’s successfully completed include commercial and residential site development, clearing for new and existing railroad tracks, oil and gas pipeline services, civil projects, erosion and sediment control, emergency response, and much more.
He’s relied on a lot of industrial equipment.
“I’ve been in land clearing for 35 years and have been working on GCLC for the last four years,” Jordan said. “I’ve owned every kind of grinder known to man that I know. Almost every style, make, and model.”
The machines are often run in the field by their veteran grinder superintendent, Mitch Millsaps, who has been working with the company for more than 14 years. Millsaps gets the tough jobs done on tight deadlines for clients, but even the most seasoned foremen can get their operation paralyzed if a grinder goes down.
CHANGING WOOD GRINDERS
“We had too many breakdowns with our old grinder and it was looking bad on the company,” Millsaps said. “We had to keep fixing a down grinder and wait for parts to arrive. Customers were getting to the point where they didn’t want us to grind because it took us so long to grind and we weren’t putting out enough product. To be honest with you, the equipment wasn’t set up for what we were using it for.”
Downtime cost the company money in more ways than one. Jordan was looking to add a powerful grinder they could transport with ease between sites in the Carolinas. If GCLC wanted to continue accepting the toughest jobs, they needed an absolute monster to grind the gnarliest material on a daily basis.
Early in 2017, GCLC connected with Josh Anderson, Sales Manager at Powerscreen Mid-Atlantic, and added a CBI 6800BT Horizontal Wood Grinder to their fleet.
“We bought the CBI 6800BT grinder because we needed to upgrade to a bigger and more powerful machine,” Jordan said. “The CBI machine is a quality built machine that eliminates downtime. The weight on this machine versus what we were using fits because we’re able to move between North and South Carolina. Obviously it was a lot more productive so everybody at every level has been happy with our upgrade. It’s really been productive since we got it.”
GCLC worked with Powerscreen Mid-Atlantic during all stages of acquiring the new grinder. They continue to be impressed by the dealership’s support. Jordan also factored in product and parts support when looking for a new machine. As a recently acquired business of Terex Corporation’s Materials Processing Segment, CBI’s products are increasingly available through Terex’s established distribution network. Small businesses like GCLC can now take advantage of in-state dealers and local support.
“Having a direct dealer here in the state is good because a lot of machines don’t have a direct dealer,” Jordan said. “With CBI joining Terex and having Powerscreen Mid-Atlantic as a dealer in North Carolina, we were confident in the level of ongoing support we’d receive.”
Out in the field, Millsaps acknowledged that Josh Anderson and Powerscreen Mid-Atlantic stood by their word every step of the way.
“We’ve had the CBI 6800BT wood grinder for about a month and we’ve had no issues with it whatsoever,” Millsaps said. “The 6800BT will put mulch out, it’s a real good machine and I’d recommend it to anybody. I’ve run them all and the 6800BT is right there on the top of the list.”
The 6800BT is specifically designed for land clearing companies and yard waste processors who demand high-volume throughput and maximum reliability. It is capable of processing land clearing debris, pallets, clean industrial waste, stumps, and logs as quickly as it can be loaded. It’s well suited to produce highly-marketable mulch through its regrinding capability. Powered by a CAT C-27; 1050 HP engine with production capacity of up to 200 tons per hour, it’s a mobile wood processing juggernaut.
Millsaps loads the grinder with a Volvo EC220E excavator. After adding the 6800BT, GCLC went from not putting out enough product to packing as many 100-yard trailers as logistically possible.
WORKING WITH THE NEW CBI HORIZONTAL WOOD GRINDER
“Grind, stop, load the truck, go back to grinding,” Millsaps explained. “We send 20-40 loads of 100-yard trailers out a day. I could put out a lot more than that a day if I just grinded constantly. I’d say I could probably put out 80,000 yards a day just with the 6800BT. We grind six to eight acres in a day with it when we’re busy.”
Equipped with the new 6800BT, they recently blasted through a 25-acre park development project in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
“With the grinder that we had, it would take me probably two and a half weeks to grind through it,” Millsaps said. “With the 6800BT, I could have the 25-acres ground in two-and-a-half days at the most. It speeds the process up ten to one.”
No longer bogged down with grinder maintenance, the operation stays ahead of schedule—even in dense and unlogged sites.
“We can keep our word,” Millsaps said. “If we take jobs that need to be done in a certain amount of time, with a CBI 6800BT we know that we can do it. We know that we won’t have a lot of breakdowns or hammers breaking or tips flying off. We’ve got the machine set up right. I grind a lot of big stuff. I worked through one job that was eight acres, it was all logs and stumps and I got through it in two days with the 6800BT. On an average job that’s been logged, you shouldn’t have over three loads of mulch per acre. That job hadn’t been logged. We had to grind logs and stumps through eight acres and ended up having 55 loads of mulch. That was the first job I’d run it on and I pushed it as hard as I can push it.”
Millsaps estimates that the 55 loads of mulch in the 100-foot trailers totaled around 5,500 yards in two days. The client thought there was no chance the site could get cleared on such a short timeline and the two day turnaround made an impression.
“We proved them wrong,” Millsaps said. “The client was real pleased because they didn’t think we could do it in the time we did it. After they saw what we could do they gave us another job clearing 35-acres and we got that done in less than five days.”
A RUGGED PIECE OF LAND CLEARING EQUIPMENT
Beyond the 6800BT’s high-volume throughput, Millsaps also credits the machine’s durability for their acceleration in productivity.
Bolt-in, replaceable Hardox 450 wear liners fully protect the inside of the grinding chamber. The 40” x 60” long upturn rotor has a forged, high-strength rotor core with 24 weld-on hammers that are protected by replaceable tip mounting faces arranged in a patented offset helix pattern. At 1440 revolutions per minute, the rotor’s offset helix pattern cuts the full width of the rotor in both directions to increase throughput and promote even wear. Just the rotor’s design, alone, has saved Millsaps time and money associated with changing teeth.
“On the 6800BT, I’ve put a hundred and twenty-something hours on it and I’ve only had to put two new teeth on it,” Millsaps said. “That’s where your time and work often goes: changing the teeth. You don’t have to change teeth every couple of hours and that’s a huge plus. It surprised me with the amount that I’ve grinded with it that I haven’t had to change more teeth than what I’ve changed. I’m running the smaller screen that makes the mulch a lot smaller. It should be wearing the teeth out a lot faster but the way the machine is set up, it doesn’t wear down the teeth. It’s constantly grinding. I’m really proud of the machine.”
GCLC has been working in the Raleigh area of North Carolina grinding oak, hickory, and pine. Throughout the year, they arrange to have the product hauled throughout North Carolina and surrounding states. It’s sold to mulch yards or to power plants as burner fuel. The 20-40 loads of 100-yard trailers they’re putting out on a daily basis have them optimistic for the upcoming mulch season.
“We’re really going to profit a lot,” Millsaps said. “We’re getting ready to sell the mulch and that’s going to really benefit the company.”