“We believe that Komatsu makes a better product”
Usually when a construction- and/or trucking-related business is described as multifaceted this means it offers a variety of services related to those types of work. Rango, Inc. is a little more unique.
“We currently have three prongs: custom aggregates harvesting, trucking and apiaries (a collection of beehives),” noted Rodney George, Co-Owner. “The diversity makes it fun, and the bee business is something we recently added and thoroughly enjoy.”
Rodney George and Tim Rosengren are business partners in the Tempe-based company, and Rodney runs the day-to-day operations. They started Rango about four years ago as a trucking company offering long-haul service.
“In a relatively short time we built a fleet of flatbeds, drop-deck trailers and a reefer that haul nationwide,” said Rodney. “Our specialty is oversized loads, including windmill parts, steel, mine tires and heavy equipment.”
Rango is now transitioning away from trucking and integrating more quarry and aggregate work. It has exchanged all of its over-the-road trucks to belly and dump trucks. Even though the company is getting out of the trucking business, it was that side which sparked Rodney’s interest in apiaries.
“During the fall months, we moved bees from North Dakota to California, then back the other direction in the spring for businesses that contract the bees for pollination,” explained Rodney. “I found it fascinating. About a year ago, my brother Fred and I attended a bee convention and bought four hives. Today, we have 3,500 hives and counting, and we breed and raise our own queens.”
Rodney hired several experienced beekeepers to help ensure success. Rango also recently completed a state-of-the-art mobile honey house that’s one of the largest in the nation.
“We will be able to collect several thousand gallons of product per day,” said Rodney. “We hold a state lease in Arizona for a half-million acres of land with mesquite trees, because the bees love them and they make for a unique-tasting honey. Like all the locations we use, it’s organic and free of pesticides. Within the next few months, we will begin collecting, bottling and selling honey with the Rango label.”
Charging ahead with custom material harvesting
How Rodney came up with the Rango name is a particularly interesting story.
“I was watching bull riding one night, and a bull threw the cowboy off, then the bull turned around and freight-trained him,” Rodney explained. “I thought that was a pretty good bull. His name was Rango, so we named the company after him. I like to say that we have been ‘charging ahead’ ever since.”
One reason for the company’s success is its leaders’ willingness to consider new ventures. Not long after Rango began, it added custom material harvesting. That prong of the business digs, hauls and stockpiles materials for quarries and concrete plants.
“Crushing is not part of our operations,” Rodney emphasized. “We believe that what we provide is a more cost-effective method of moving materials. Tim and I presented the plan to a local materials group, and they saw the advantages, too. Like trucking, the custom material harvesting aspect of the business has remained steady since we started it.”
Another big factor in Rango’s success is its staff. Rodney and Tim may own the business, but they consider all their employees to be family. “We know what an important role each employee plays,” said Rodney. “We realize that without them, our company wouldn’t be what it is today.”
Komatsu haul trucks increase production
Last year, Rango began looking at new haul trucks for the custom materials harvesting side. Rodney diligently checked out several brands before choosing four, 75-ton Komatsu HD605-7EO mechanical models. The company took delivery on the first units earlier this year after working with Road Machinery Account Manager Mike Denton and Regional General Manager Brad Bjerke to purchase the trucks. Rango also uses an older Komatsu PC750LC hydraulic excavator to dig as needed.
“We believe that Komatsu makes a better product,” stated Rodney. “All the truck brands haul about the same tonnage, but it’s the details with Komatsu that make a difference. For instance, the cab is so quiet you can actually have a conversation with someone or listen to the radio at low volume and hear it. The trucks are sealed, so dust isn’t an issue. It’s like driving a car.”
“Ultimately, it all comes down to production, and ours went through the roof with the 605s; we’re on pace to move nearly two million yards of material per year,” he continued. “In fact, the increased production actually became an issue at one point. The material piles grew so big, so fast that the customer couldn’t keep up, and we had to shut down a truck for a time. Before we had the new Komatsus, we ran five or six trucks and it was all we could do to maintain the stockpiles.”
Too much production is one of the only reasons the trucks have stopped since Rango began using them. “There were a couple of minor glitches at the beginning with these large, complicated machines,” Rodney noted. “I called Road, and they were on it right away.
“We have been very impressed with Road Machinery, Mike and Brad,” he added. “They put together a good package, then helped tailor the financing through Komatsu Financial to meet our specific needs. We are looking at additional trucks now, and Komatsu is our brand of choice.”
Another factor in Rango’s selection of the HD605-7EOs was their size and the capability to transport these trucks between quarries without taking them apart. This is important considering that Rodney foresees plenty of work in the near and long term. Currently, Rango works in as many as six pits at any time. A company it has partnered with is readying a new quarry, which is projected to have at least 15 years of reserves.
“Long term, things look quite good,” Rodney said. “With our diversity and experience, we could go in several directions, including ramping up site work. I had my own excavation company before starting Rango, and we did quite a lot of site work until recently, but that’s slowed down as we concentrate more on other areas.”
Rango’s previous jobs in that realm included of an 80-acre landfill called the 101/202 Project that saw the company crush nearly 700,000 tons of concrete, which had been left on site. It also involved moving approximately one million yards of dirt to reshape the ground in preparation for new hotel construction.
For now, Rodney and Tim are mainly focused on bees, custom harvesting materials and trucking, but they also have their sights on two other ventures. One is purchasing and operating a 4,000-acre bee, alfalfa and cattle farm in Utah. The other is building an 80-acre complex for up to 150 children and adults with autism.
“We are in the process of finding a location for the complex that will eventually include housing as well as a community center,” Rodney said. “It will be state-of-the-art with great amenities. Our plan is for 100 percent of the proceeds from the beehives to fund the project. We hope within five years to have a bottling facility with Rango honey for sale in stores across the nation.”