Telecommunication cables are the arteries and veins of business these days. None of us could get much done without the copper and fiber optic cables running underground, bringing information, data and entertainment to our computers and other devices. Columbus-based Gudenkauf Corporation has installed many of those cables in the last four decades, earning a reputation as a one-stop solution provider for communications and utility needs in Ohio and surrounding states.
Founded in 1977 by Jeff Gudenkauf, the company has grown to 175 employees with offices in Columbus, Dayton, Wheeling and Stonewood, West Virginia. The company's services include digging trenches, laying cable, installing hand-holes or manholes for conduit, and installing and splicing fiber optic and copper cable. Its customers include some of the biggest names in the telecommunications industry—AT&T, Frontier, CenturyLink and Time Warner.
Gudenkauf's large-scale growth has come with the help of some small-scale equipment—Takeuchi mini excavators—which the company finds both versatile and durable. "We have been using Takeuchi minis since about 2007," said Vince Paxton, assistant vice president. The company has 15 Takeuchi mini excavators in sizes ranging from TB016 to TB250. "They have been extremely reliable. They are also the pieces of equipment that get used the most in this organization. We have very few issues with the Taks, they don't need much work aside from regular maintenance. We've never had a catastrophic failure."
Some of the Takeuchis in Gudenkauf's fleet have more than 4,000 service hours, and the minis seem to hold up better than other brands, according to Jim Spaulding, equipment manager. In fact, he calls Takeuchi "one of the best mini excavators I have seen."
"The Takeuchis are an excellent choice for cable and utility work because they hold a tight tolerance," he said. "Tolerance is very important to us. If we're digging near a gas line, we can't have a lot of movement. The Takeuchis are more apt to stay in line than some other brands we have tried. Some brands just have a lot more movement."
The TB250 almost functions as a cross between a backhoe and a mini in situations where "you need something a little bigger," he added. "It has a good depth ratio. It will dig about 12 feet straight down. It works really well for putting in hand holes or manholes. It takes the backhoe almost out of the equation."
The compact footprint of the mini excavators is important because "a lot of the work we do is in right of ways and easements that can get congested. Getting a backhoe in would be difficult," Paxton said. "The minis can pivot and swivel. They are also easy to haul and get around. And the operators like them because they have plenty of power."
Attachments make the minis even more versatile. Gudenkauf crews use a variety of attachments, including buckets, compacting plates, augers and hammers on the Takeuchi machines. "It's almost like having three machines in one," Paxton said.
Gudenkauf is a longtime customer of Columbus Equipment Company. "Service has been great. They are easy to get ahold of and follow up is good. Columbus Equipment Company has been a good partner for us," Paxton said.
"Columbus Equipment has bent over backwards to help us out on anything we need," Spaulding said. "The parts department has been exceptional. The guys on the parts desk know what the parts are. You don't have to give them the parts number, you can just explain what it is and they know what you need. They keep a big inventory of parts and what we need is always available."
Gudenkauf has several mechanics on staff to handle PM and routine issues, but the company relies on Columbus Equipment's service department for a variety of scenarios, including warranty issues and difficult diagnoses. "If we get a problem my guys can't figure out, it goes to Columbus Equipment. They are good and fast. They understand that time is money for us," Spaulding said. "Normally everything we do is time-sensitive. There have been times when Columbus Equipment was working on a few pieces of equipment we needed, and they had the guys stay after hours and complete the job so we could get the machine back."
Sales representative Jeremy Williams has been very helpful, Spaulding added. "He has gone above and beyond to show us options that might be helpful to us."
Installing cables that people depend on, requires dependable partners. Columbus Equipment and Takeuchi are proud to be those partners for the Gudenkauf Corporation.