Larry Weldon took the trucking company his grandfather started and developed it into a service company. For the last six years, Doe Weldon Trucking Company Inc. has worked at the AEP Cardinal plant in Brilliant, Ohio, providing hauling and other services for the energy company.
“In the span of six years it has become a pretty good business,” Weldon said, explaining that his Mingo Junction-based company has grown from three dump trucks to 13 and he has added several other pieces of equipment to meet the needs of the plant. Weldon hauls coal to the plant, and takes ash and gypsum by-products from the plant to the landfill. Other services Weldon provides to the plant include maintenance work such as digging ditches and repairing roads.
Weldon became a Columbus Equipment Company customer when he got the Cardinal contract. He purchased a new Komatsu dozer, loader and backhoe to replace the older-model CAT equipment the company had been using. “We weren’t into equipment enough to be described as a ‘CAT guy’ or any kind of a guy,” Weldon explained. “That said, we didn’t rely upon it to the extent we do now. When I looked at buying from Caterpillar or Komatsu, some of the things that Komatsu offered made a difference.”
Those factors included machine performance and operator-friendly cabs, said Columbus Equipment sales rep Joe Moore. “They don’t run a big fleet, so they really pay attention to fuel consumption, and they like the fuel economy Komatsu machines offer.”
“Joe is very knowledgeable. He has been in the industry forever and his experience has been a big help to me,” Weldon said. “If I need a piece of equipment, I know Joe can be instrumental in getting me what I need.” Among the Komatsu equipment Weldon owns is a D61 dozer, purchased six years ago, and a D65 purchased earlier this year. The company also owns a WA450 wheel loader, a WB140 backhoe and a PC138 excavator.
The WA450 is kept at the power plant, where operators use it to load the waste materials into dump trucks. The dozers are both stationed at the landfill where Weldon Trucking hauls the waste ash and gypsum. The gypsum is a by-product of emission-control systems the coal-fired plant uses to meet EPA guidelines, and Weldon Trucking hauls more than 500,000 tons of it annually. “It’s not a harmful substance,” Weldon noted, but because of its moisture content—about 8 percent—he has to use heated beds on his trucks in the winter, and cover the beds.
When the ash or gypsum is delivered to the landfill, Weldon Trucking is responsible for leveling out and compacting the material. The company uses the D61, which has about 7,000 hours on it, on the ash and the newer D65 on the gypsum, simply so that operators don’t have to keep moving the machines between the two areas. “We run at least one dozer every day and we have not had any trouble with them,” said Brian Miller, Weldon Trucking superintendent.
Weldon Trucking uses the Komatsu WB140 backhoe and PC138 excavator for a variety of tasks that fall into the “service” part of the company’s job. “We use the backhoe for everything,” Miller said. “We use the back bucket to dig ditches and the front bucket to fix roads and drainpipes.”
All the Komatsu equipment has been reliable and virtually trouble free. Miller can recall only one issue with any of the machines—an injector problem that Columbus Equipment Company came out and fixed under warranty.
“Service-wise, there just hasn’t been much need to call on Columbus Equipment,” Weldon said. “We haven’t had a need for emergency service, but Joe has always told me to call him if there’s a problem and he’ll see it through for me. That’s worth a lot.”
Weldon Trucking maintains a garage, staffed by mechanic Jim Knight and helper Ron Haught, to service any equipment that isn’t under warranty. Parts availability from Columbus Equipment has been very good, Miller said. “We can call over there and get whatever we need.”
After six trouble-free years as a Komatsu owner, Weldon is sold on the brand. “The fact that we have been running a Komatsu dozer for five years and just bought another one, tells you how I feel about the equipment,” he said. “I am going to start negotiating another contract, and I am sure I will be buying a WA500 wheel loader if I get it. Columbus Equipment Company has treated us very well, and the equipment has been good.”
“I have run Case, CAT, Komatsu, John Deere … I’ve been around them all,” Miller said. “Komatsu makes the best trackhoes, and I think Komatsu has come a long with their equipment. With the performance we’ve had with this equipment so far, I wouldn’t think of switching.”
Doe Weldon Trucking Company traces its history back to 1919 when Harold Russell Weldon started hauling with one pickup-sized truck. Harold, Larry’s grandfather, was just 19 years old at the time. “I don’t know exactly when it became a company per se,” Larry said, but Harold ran the company until 1967. At that time, Larry’s father, Doyle Russell Weldon—everyone called him Doe, according to Larry—took over the company and managed it until he passed away in 1991.
Larry is the third generation of the family to run the company. The fourth generation is represented by his daughter, Lori Lucas, who works in the office with Larry’s wife, Susie. Lori’s son Braden is still a preschooler, so it’s a little early to tell if he’ll want to join the family business, but he does share the middle name Russell with all the owners … so it may well be inevitable.