Successfullly Serving A Niche - A Closer Look
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SECTION: A Closer Look

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Successfullly Serving A Niche

Written By: Mary Sedor

Article Date: 12-01-2006
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Felco's products imporve utility countractors' productivity

Felco Industries has found its niche catering specifically to utility contractors.

The company has been manufacturing bedding conveyors for more than 20 years. In 1982, founder John Felton got the idea from one of his employees working for his construction company, Felton Construction. When one of his workers working in a trench said he thought something could be put between the tracks of the excavator to make the job easier, the idea for the first bedding conveyor was born.

Today, the company also manufactures a roller compaction bucket, a vibratory compaction bucket and a UTS milling bucket.

Niche Know-How

Felco's Bedding Conveyor allows an excavator operator to control when, where and how much bedding material is placed in the trench. Mounted between the tracks and attached to the car body of the excavator, the conveyor taps into the excavator's undercarriage drive circuit to power the conveyor's hydraulic motor. The hopper is mounted on the back of the conveyor, which allows the excavator to move freely.

Because the operator controls the conveyor from inside the cab, he can fill the bucket with the exact amount of bedding material and place it where and when he needs it.

"The operator can press a foot pedal and control how much material goes into the bucket," says Christine Johnson, marketing director for Felco, "or if he's dumping it into the trench, he can control where it goes.

"With the bedding conveyor contractors don't need to close an extra lane of traffic. And it's a lot safer because the front end loader doesn't have to go to the edge of the trench - the operator can see exactly where he's putting the bucket and where the material is going."

Felco's roller compaction bucket combines the tamping pad roller design and a sealed journal bearing within the company's regular-duty bucket. More than 20 different roller compaction buckets are available to meet a wide variety of applications. A mini Felco Roller bucket is also available for smaller machines.

"The contractor's time is valuable," says Johnson, "and with this attachment they can dig, place material and compact all without switching attachments. Plus the sealed journal bearing is self-lubricating so operators don't have to spend time oiling or maintaining it."

The vibratory compaction plate bucket combines the compaction performance of a vibratory plate unit with a bucket. The bucket's vibration forces the air in the soil to surface and decreases air pockets in the soil, which makes it ideal for compacting granular materials. Operators can also place backfill in the exact amount needed and compact using the bucket. This versatility turns the machine into a complete digging, backfilling and compaction system.

Felco recently introduced the UTS milling bucket, which features a Terex cutter/milling unit combined with a bucket. The unit can cut through 2 to 5.5 inches of material, including concrete, asphalt and dirt. With the milling unit the operator can scoop up a bucket full of bigger rocks, grind them down, and then use them as backfill.

In addition to these products, Felco works with companies on custom attachments.

"We do a lot of custom equipment, such as trapezoidal buckets and different conveyor systems," says Johnson. "We have three engineers on staff and between them they have more than 60 years of experience."

Distributors Are Key

Felco is always on the lookout for new dealers. The company does sell direct (less than 2 percent of sales), but Felco values what the dealer brings to the equation.

"We would much rather go through a dealer than sell directly to the contractor," says Johnson. "Our dealers are great at troubleshooting. We have a great working relationship with them."

Mark Barry, branch manager with Diesel Machinery in Sioux Falls, S.D., agrees.

"They are all very friendly and knowledgeable people," says Barry.

Diesel Machinery has been a Felco dealer for about two years. They find the utility contractors in their area love the Felco products.

"These are excellent products," says Barry. "We've been very satisfied with everything we've bought from them. We've never had any kind of failure, and consequently we've sold some units out of the rental fleet because people liked them."

Felco ensures dealers have all the information they need to do their jobs.

The buckets are custom made for particular machines so bucket ears can be extended, extra pins added and additional teeth purchased. Felco also stands behind their products. While there is a 30-day warranty should something go wrong with the product they will repair it.

The company sells all over North America, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Four sales representatives work out of the Felco office, and they each cover a different part of the country. At least one third of the time, they're visiting dealers, and providing training, catalogs, brochures and pricing sheets. Dealers also receive dvds that include video of the products working.

"If there is a problem, a dealer can call us and we'll have the parts to him as quickly as we can," says Johnson. "We'll also walk him through installation and troubleshooting."

Felco is looking for AED member dealers because of the level of support they provide the end user and the excellence they represent. To meet them, Felco became an AED member and participated in the Annual Meeting & CONDEX in San Diego.

"We joined AED and attended the trade show last year," says Johnson. "We made some connections and sold to some of the dealers we met while we were there.

"Since the Annual Meeting last year, we've developed some strong relationships with AED dealers, and we're looking to expand our relationship with AED member dealers this year."

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