VIDEO: St. Louis County's New Equipment Better Serves Taxpayers

Fri January 05, 2024
Road Machinery & Supplies Co.

The St. Louis County Public Works Department is responsible for maintaining 3,000 mi. of northern Minnesota roads in its territory. With many of those being rural miles that wind through the Superior National Forest and up to the Canadian border, it's a much larger task than maintenance of well-manicured suburban roadways.

To maintain its rights-of-way, the department needed equipment less suited for landscaping and more suited for another popular northern Minnesota industry.

"We need to have, logging-type equipment so we can cut bigger trees out of the way in order to mow," said Chad Skelton, fleet and property manager. "One of the things we've really invested in over the last five years is increasing the ability of our roadside mowing equipment."

Two years ago, the department decided to rent a Komatsu PC290LC excavator with a Quadco mulching head attachment from Road Machinery & Supplies Co. The results were undeniable.

"It's a quick machine and it'll grind up almost about any tree and not have a problem with it," said Jesse Verbonich, equipment operator senior. "Plus, the cab is comfortable and warm, which is nice."

Those results led the department to make the decision to purchase the machine.

"We liked it so much, we decided to buy it," said Skelton. "We were able to a lot more and do it a lot faster."

As with many governmental agencies, the decision to buy was one that included more than performance and price. Fortunately, two Road Machinery & Supplies locations in St. Louis Co. — Virginia and Duluth — and the relationship with Joel Elden, territory manager, enabled St. Louis Co. to check all the necessary boxes.

"The money that we spend goes back to services to our taxpayers, so it's very important that we consider all the factors of the machine ownership before making the decision to buy," said Skelton. "Service and reliability really are important. RMS is local. To have a vendor be able to show up on the drop of a hat is very important to us. If our machine is down, we aren't getting our job done. And that means that we aren't providing those services that the taxpayers expect from us. RMS and Joel gave us the confidence that we could rely on the equipment to perform consistently."