Pullins Drainage: Pioneering Since the 1950’s

The company was an early adopter of iMC— it owns two D51i machines and a D61i—and is the only company in Ohio using Komatsu iMC dozers in this application.
Brothers Sam and John Pullins, the third generation to run the company, have found that “using intelligent machines to grade waterways takes one-half to one quarter the time and it’s perfect every time,” according to Sam Pullins.
Each year, Pullins Drainage puts in 40,000 to 50,000 linear feet of waterways, which are generally 30 to 50 feet wide. They work within 100 miles of Quincy, and most of the waterway projects are for a county Soil and Water Conservation District or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sometimes the agency designs the waterway and gives Pullins a CSV file that can be converted to work in the dozer. Other times, Pullins Drainage designs the waterway. “We have a model of each size of waterway—30, 40 or 50 feet. We put their grades in the design and build it,” Pullins said.
Other companies involved in waterway work use lasers, and they simply can’t match Pullins Drainage for accuracy, he added. “The Soil and Water Conservation offices in every county we work in say our waterways are basically perfect every time. Anyone who is using laser is eyeballing it. A waterway has a parabolic shape, and they use the laser for the center and freehand the rest. Consequently, the county will check their grades and they’ll have to fix high spots and low spots. The GPS integrated into the intelligent dozers takes the guesswork out of it.”
Sam Pullins credits his father, Paul Pullins, as the driving force behind acquiring the intelligent dozers. “He knew what GPS had done for us on tiling work, and could only imagine what it could do on waterways.” Columbus Equipment Company SMARTConstruction Division Manager Mike Fenster created a program for waterways in an i-dozer, then “Columbus Equipment let us demo that dozer. We saw how it would work, and that’s all it took,” Pullins added.
“There is so much that you can do with these dozers. We can quickly figure yardage on the jobs, quickly survey with the dozer and be done with it. The i system is a CAD system without having to have a CAD. We can do everything through the handheld if we want, you don’t even need a computer.
But accuracy and saving time is the real bonus. “You don’t have to spend time checking your work because you know the dozer is going to build to the model.”
Another benefit of the integrated system is there are no wires or equipment on the blade. “When we’re doing tree work we run into a lot of brush, and with this system we don’t have to worry about that,” he added.
Pullins Drainage became a customer of Komatsu and Columbus Equipment Company about a decade ago. “We purchased our first i-dozer and within thirty days purchased a second, trading in two non-GPS dozers that kept breaking down,” Pullins said. In addition to the three i-dozers, the company owns two PC228s and a PC88.
“We love Komatsu equipment. The visibility in the dozers is great; with the radiator in the back you can see the blade better, and we can push more dirt than in other dozers. The 228 excavators are really strong. You can do anything you want with them.”
Komatsu dependability is excellent, he noted. The company usually keeps machinery until it reaches 5,000 hours, “but we’ve run them to 8,000 or 9,000 hours and had no issues.”
Pullins is also very happy with the service he gets from Columbus Equipment Company. “If something breaks down, they provide a loaner, no questions asked. We can’t get that with anyone else.”
Their sales rep, Mike Early in the Dayton branch, has even opened the store for them on the weekends when they needed something, he said.
Pullins Drainage, founded in 1958 by David Pullins, was also a pioneer in using GPS to install drainage tiles nearly two decades ago. “Construction GPS vs. ag GPS is a whole different world,” according to Sam. Seeing how the technology benefited the company with installing drain tile led to further expansion into the grading of waterways.
Finding new and more efficient ways to complete a job—that’s a trait you find in successful pioneers, like Pullins Drainage and Komatsu’s iMC dozers.
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