Productive and fuel-efficient Komatsu equipment
Most contractors like heavy equipment. It’s the
fun part of the job. They like what the machinery
can do and they like how a clean, bright,
well-maintained machine looks out on a job.
Few contractors, however, keep their machines
looking as good as Reggie Hamilton does.
Hamilton is the owner of Chehalis,
Wash.-based Hamilton Rocking & Contracting. A
former race car driver who raced in the national
“Legends” series and who raced late-model
NASCAR-style cars regionally, Hamilton is
a stickler for freshly painted, non-dented,
non-rusted machines. He makes sure all his
equipment is greased daily; that even on new
machines, oil is changed at 250-hour intervals
(rather than the 500 hours the manufacturer
allows); and that each machine is routinely
brought into the shop for a hard wax by hand to
help extend the paint life.
“I’m definitely fussy with how my machines
look and how they’re maintained,” Hamilton
noted. “I like what clean, shiny, late-model
equipment says about my company. I think
clients are impressed when you have equipment
that looks good on their job. I think employees
treat a good-looking machine better and take
more pride in their work. I think it’s also good
business because a machine that looks good and
is well-taken-care-of has better resale value.”
Hamilton brings that same perfectionist
attitude toward the jobs that his company does.
Hamilton Rocking & Contracting primarily
builds logging roads and does a lot of crushing,
much of it in conjunction with the road building.
The company also does site developments,
as well as some specialty, large-pipe drainage
work, such as constructing fish pipes that allow
fish to get upstream through culverts that had
previously been blocked.
One of Hamilton Rocking’s specialties is to
find and crush rock at a customer’s jobsite,
which saves the customer a considerable
amount of money.
“If a logging company is bringing in rock to
build a road, the source might be an hour away,”
Hamilton said. “Even on a small job that may
only require 100 loads of rock, you’re talking
$9,000 to $10,000 in trucking costs. On top of
that, you have to purchase the rock itself. What
we like to do is locate a rock source on their
property so we can develop it, crush it and use it
right there on site. It’s a much more efficient and
cost-effective way to build a logging road.”
Often, an on-site rock source has to be drilled
and shot before it can be crushed and used,
but Hamilton has learned how to more or less
“manufacture” a rock source in many instances.
“We can sometimes go into an old pit and
find loose rock, or scratch around with an
excavator and locate a source that’s not too
deep,” he noted. “Often we’re able to come
up with 1,000 or 1,500 yards of product that
can be used without having to drill and blast,
and that might be enough to take care of a
one-time job in the area. Again, it’s a big cost
savings, and our customers are quite pleased
when we’re able to save them $5,000 or $10,000
on a job.”
Better roads/valued employees
Hamilton Rocking & Contracting will
travel 100 miles or more for crushing and/or
“Building logging roads is much different
and much better than it used to be,” explained
Hamilton. “We remove all trees and stumps,
then we grade, slope and drain everything. It’s
just like highway work without the paving.
The roads are safer, and the way we build them
today is 100-percent better for the environment
than was the case 20 to 30 years ago.”
Hamilton relies on a small but knowledgeable
and talented work force to build those roads.
Key people include his wife, Kim, a co-owner
who keeps the books; his brother Jay Hamilton;
and longtime employee Chuck Rushton.
“Almost everybody who works here is in their
50s and I think that’s a good thing,” observed
Hamilton. “We have a lot of experience so we’ve
seen most anything we’re apt to run into. Also,
I don’t have to wonder if an employee is going
to show up. I know I can count on everybody
here. They all have a solid work ethic, so we’re a
Productive and fuel-efficient equipment
To do the type of work that keeps customers
coming back, Hamilton Rocking & Contracting
needs productive, reliable equipment.
Recently, the company has turned primarily to
Komatsu machines (a BR380JG mobile crusher,
a PC270LC-8 excavator and a WA380-6 wheel
loader) from Modern Machinery.
“We started out renting the mobile crusher
two or three years ago, and our relationship
with Komatsu and Modern just grew from
there,” said Hamilton. “All of our Komatsu
pieces are outstanding machines. One of the key
aspects for us is fuel-efficiency. We compared
the PC270 to a top competitor and found the
Komatsu excavator was going to save us 15 to
20 gallons of fuel a day. At $3 to $4 per gallon,
that’s real money.
“We use the excavator to dig rock and feed
the crusher, as well as for sloping, digging
ditches and laying pipe,” Hamilton continued.
“We use the wheel loader to stockpile and load
trucks. And the crusher allows us to do things
that many contractors can’t do. For example,
in addition to crushing rock, we can recycle
concrete with it (including rebar removal).”
Hamilton did just that at a large, truck-stop
job near Chehalis.
“We crushed the concrete that was there and
they reused it on site as base material. We had
our new Komatsu machines with the ecot3
stickers on them when the Washington State
Department of Ecology was checking out the
work. They gave us a big thumbs-up for using
green equipment as well as for being part of an
environmentally sound recycling effort. The
project owner liked it also, and was even more
pleased with the cost savings we were able
to deliver compared to having to haul off the
concrete and bring in a different base material.”
“The best” dealer support
Hamilton says he’s been very happy with
all his Komatsu machines and also very
pleased with the support he gets from Modern
Machinery in Rochester, Wash.
“Modern is the best — period. My salesman,
Jim Stevens, goes out of his way to take care
of us, including delivering parts if needed. If
Jim and I can’t get a deal done on a machine,
Modern is willing to bring in Regional
Manager Jim Hassebrock and VP Lamont
Cantrell. They’ve both come to meet with me
and I really appreciate that.
“Modern also has the top service guys
in this area,” he asserted. “I don’t know
how many times their Shop Foreman Rock
Schwartz has saved me. And their fabricator,
‘Big’ Bob Nicholson, can build anything.
I still have some older-model competitive
equipment and I have Modern work on
that for me, as well as take care of my new
“All of us at Modern are pleased to be
associated with Reggie and look forward to
continuing to build our relationship in the
years to come,” said Modern Machinery
President Brian Sheridan.
Quality trumps quantity
While Hamilton Rocking & Contracting’s work
load isn’t where it was five years ago, Hamilton
says it has picked up from its low point in 2009.
“Business is okay. I’m not really interested in
getting much bigger. We’re a small company
and I like that. We used to have a quarry
with about 25 employees and I prefer what
we have now — about eight or 10 of us. It’s
easier to manage and there’s less stress, but
we’re still able to stay fairly busy and do work
that’s challenging and gratifying. I’m working
for the same landowners and commercial
developers I’ve always worked for. People
around here know who we are and know the
type of work we do.”
For Hamilton, when it comes to work, quality trumps quantity.
“My dad told me to always remember that
every job you do has your name on it, so
don’t ever do something you’re not willing
to stand behind. That always stuck with me.
I won’t take a job just to do it and to make
more money. The important thing to me is to
do something I’m proud of and I think that’s
true of our whole crew. I believe that’s why
we’re still around and why we’ll continue to be
around in the future.”