“Komatsu’s reliability is outstanding”
Paul Gaines grew up farming and working in his dad’s farm equipment business in western Tennessee, and like many other people with similar backgrounds, he ran equipment. In addition to farm machinery, Gaines also got experience operating a dozer and a rubber-tired backhoe loader.
“We saw a need for a dozer, so we bought one in 1979 to do jobs around the farm,” recalled Gaines. “Neighbors asked us if we would take care of some work for them, and that led to us starting a small construction business on the side. I was more or less ‘the operator,’ and I put more than 21,000 hours on that dozer.”
Eventually, the Gaines family stopped farming and pursued other businesses. His brothers started a custom hauling company, and Gaines continued to handle dirt work. In 1993, he started his own business, Paul Gaines Dozer Services.
Today, as a one-man operation, he still caters to farmers around his hometown of Bells, Tenn., providing a wide range of services such as clearing, general excavation, ditch cleaning, earthmoving to help prevent soil erosion and nearly anything else customers request.
“Additionally, I have provided some site preparation work to residential developers, mainly cutting subgrade and leveling pads,” Gaines informed. “I also build ponds and lakes and do a little bit of demolition.”
Komatsu’s reliability stands out
In the fall and spring, Gaines concentrates exclusively on farm work, a large percentage of which is for repeat customers. During the past few years, much of his activity has centered on clearing and reshaping land for new irrigation pivots.
“My clients know me and trust that I’ll get their projects done in a timely fashion, so they often just turn me loose and say, ‘Go fix it,’” Gaines said. “Farmers realized they could increase their yields with the irrigation that pivots provide, so they have me take out thickets and trees and reroute water.”
Gaines clears with a Komatsu PC200LC-8 excavator equipped with a hydraulic thumb. He pushes trees and brush into piles, grades and dozes with a D51PX-22 dozer. He purchased both machines, as well as several previous Komatsu pieces, from Power Equipment Company with the help of Territory Manager Jimmy Spence.
“With the hydraulic thumb, the possibilities are pretty much endless as to what I can do with the excavator, which is important when you’re a one-man show,” said Gaines. “It has good power and is fuel-efficient.”
Gaines purchased his first Komatsu excavator, a PC200LC-3, from his father and brother’s wholesale equipment business a few years after he started his own company. He routinely puts 8,000 hours or more on an excavator before trading it in. Currently, his PC200LC-8 has nearly 6,000 hours.
“A lot of people I knew ran Komatsu, so I wanted to try one,” said Gaines. “It was as good as advertised. After that first one, I bought a used Dash-6 model, then upgraded to new in 2000. I trade for a new one every few years.”
He acquired the D51PX-22 approximately three years ago, the second D51 he has purchased. It now has close to 3,000 hours.
“Visibility with the slant-nose design is outstanding,” Gaines said. “It’s smooth, quiet and comfortable to operate. I’ve had other Komatsu dozers, and they have all been good, but I think this D51 is a cut above. It’s just right for me.”
Gaines does the maintenance on the machines himself with parts from Power Equipment’s Memphis branch.
“Komatsu’s reliability is outstanding, so I rarely have to call Power for service,” Gaines stated. “I’ve never had a major component failure. Even at higher hours, they still have a lot of life. If I do have an issue, I know that Jimmy, my Customer Support Rep Brock Booker or James Sparks and the Memphis service department will respond quickly. Generally, they can help me fix it over the phone. Those gentlemen and Power are terrific to work with. I’ve told Jimmy that when he retires, I’m going to as well.”
Still loves what he does
That may be a bit of hyperbole because Gaines is still passionate about his work and taking care of customers.
“I’m thankful to get up every day and do what I love,” Gaines emphasized. “I plan to keep doing this as long as I’m productive, and hopefully that’s for a long time to come. It’s unlikely that I will ever change my focus either. Farm-related projects have been my bread and butter for nearly 25 years. It’s what I know best, so I believe I’ll stick with that.”
Since the interview, Gaines has traded excavators for a new PC210LC-11. He said, “AWESOME MACHINE!”