Ort, Inc.


Mar 20, 2012

Long-reach Komatsu excavators – quick, strong and reliable

Donny Ort has worn many hats through the years. After military service in the ’60s, he was an equipment operator, then a mechanic for a dealership. In the early ’80s, he and a partner started Tri-State Crawler, which was a combination repair shop, salvage yard and parts business. As part of Tri-State, Donny started doing some earthwork with the equipment they purchased, which eventually led to an amicable split about three years ago. His Tri-State partner took the shop and Donny took the construction side of the business, which he renamed Ort, Inc.

“Like so much of life, it’s all about timing,” Ort recalled. “The same year I started Ort, Inc., is when the government decided to start doing something about drainage ditches in southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas. They had been neglected for decades and had become overgrown with trees and filled in with silt and other debris to the point where they were no longer effective as a means of draining the area farmland.”

Clearing and dredging drainage ditches has become a specialty of Ort, Inc., which is based in Sikeston, Mo. Ort’s ditch-cleaning work really picked up after heavy spring floods in 2011 made a bad situation worse by depositing even more material into the ditches.

“I work for a number of drainage districts, basically from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to Jonesboro, Arkansas,” Ort explained. “To do the work, one needs the right equipment, which basically means long-reach excavators, drag lines or cranes. I think long-reach excavators are best because more people can operate them effectively. I already had long-reach excavators, so I was able to hit the ground running after the flooding last year. I consider myself fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time.”

That may be true, but Ort’s success is much more than just luck and/or timing. Well before he started doing much drainage work, he had good customers and an excellent reputation for getting things done.

“We have plenty of competition, but I think the drainage districts we work for are pleased with the quality of our work, the price, and the fact that we get their jobs done in a timely manner,” said Ort. “They know we have the people, the know-how and the equipment to do the work. They also know from past experience that they can trust us to do what we say we’re going to do.”

Nothing but Komatsu

When it comes to the long-reach excavators required to clean drainage ditches, Ort has turned exclusively to Komatsu machines.

“Back when I was doing repairs, I had a customer who brought in a Komatsu excavator and I gave him kind of a hard time because my background was with another brand,” Ort recalled. “The guy just said, ‘Komatsu’s better — and if you ever have one, you’ll know what I’m talking about.’

“I remembered that, and the first machine I bought was a Komatsu PC200LC-5 that had basically been ruined by being submerged in water. Because of the damage, I was able to buy it cheaply. I replaced all the electric components and rebuilt the engine, then put it to work. It was a great machine that ran beautifully for many years. For me, it’s been nothing but Komatsu ever since.”

Today, Ort owns about a dozen Komatsu excavators ranging from a PC150 with about 25 feet of reach, up to a PC400 with a 73-foot front.

“The best thing about Komatsu excavators is they just don’t give me much trouble,” he noted. “They’re quick, strong and reliable. I buy used machines and my experience is that, even with a used Komatsu, I’m not going to run into any real problems before about 10,000 hours. Of course, I buy wear parts, hoses, seals and maybe do some track work, but that’s about it. I think 10,000 hours without any major repairs is very good.

“The other good thing about Komatsu is that Roland Machinery is the dealer. My Roland Sales Rep, Dan Christensen, does a great job finding me machines. PSSR Kevin Cox makes sure we get parts. Roland is also really good about talking us through minor repairs, which I appreciate because it keeps our downtime under control and saves us money.”

Full speed ahead

Since opening its doors just a few years ago, Ort, Inc., has grown from basically a one-man operation to about 10 operators today. Ort says he’ll grow the business if he needs to, but is happy with its present size. And although he’s old enough to retire, Ort says he has no intention of calling it quits anytime soon.

“I love to work and I love what I’m doing. My wife, Deborah, and daughter, Deanna Phelps, run the office and take care of the bookkeeping, and that lets me stay out here in the field, which is what I enjoy. I’ve got some good help, and as long as I’ve got operators who want to work, my plan is to keep this company going.”