When Finco Tree Service met Sally: A mini skid steer love story
You know the old story — boy meets girl, they fall in love, yada, yada, fade to black. Well what about the story of five men falling in love with a Vermeer mini skid steer named Sally? Haven’t heard that one, have you? Well settle in, because Todd Finch, founder and chief financial officer of Finco Tree Service in Ames, Iowa, has the story.
“Well first of all, you’ve got to be a little crazy to be in the tree business,” Finch said. “We go outside when there’s storms and nasty stuff when everyone else is running away.”
To set the scene, Finch explained that at Finco Tree there was a small ‘beef’ between the company’s residential tree removal crew and the land-clearing crew. The land crew was sitting pretty with two skid loaders at their disposal, and the residential crew was feeling a little slighted. After some discussions among themselves, the residential crew came to Finch saying they were owed at least one ‘hired man’ (or a Vermeer mini skid steer) to use on their jobs.
“Our residential tree removal crews were pretty much near mutinous — they said they needed a ‘hired man’ to help them,” Finch said.
Finch knew he had to find the ideal machine for their operation, but he wanted to try out a few options so he set up some demos with some competing brands.
“When Brad from the dealer, Vermeer Sales and Service brought us the Vermeer mini skid, they couldn’t call it ‘Vermeer’ or ‘Vermy’ or anything like that, because we have enough other Vermeer pieces that it would be confusing,” Finch explained.
As a full tree service company with an emphasis on upcycling materials to make products like firewood and mulch, Finco Tree Service was already equipped with three Vermeer BC1000XL brush chippers and a SC60TX stump cutter.
“During the Vermeer demo period, our lead arborist Jeff had said, ‘Well that little thing probably won’t do nothin’ — it’s just a little Sally,’” Finco said.
To everyone’s surprise, the Vermeer mini skid steer’s productivity easily edged out the other competitors.
“The joystick controls in the Vermeer are the only way to go,” Finch said. “The competitor was very similar in every way and it was probably fine, but it had two controls and that seemed completely illogical. If you have both hands off to your left while you’re working, that really leaves you terribly off balance to hold yourself up. The ergonomics are just there with the Vermeer mini skid, ; there was a lot of thought put into the design of it.”
Even though, the Finco crew demoed a few brands in similar sizes, when it came to one of the competitor’s design they felt it was just too big and cumbersome for their work.
“At the end of the demos for each I said, so what will it be?” Finch said. “And Jeff said, ‘Oh, there’s no question — we’re keeping Sally.’ Ever since then the (mini skid steer) has been affectionately called Sally.”
Finch said the Finco residential tree removal crew is very content with their new ”hired man”.
“(The mini skid) literally does not leave their side,” Finch said. “If they can’t take it to the job because they don’t have enough room, they’ll come back and get it. The poor little devil – she ends up being stranded everywhere because we’ll fill up all the dump trailers with wood and then there’s no room for her so the next morning someone always has to come back to get her.”
And together, they lived happily ever after…
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