ABI SR3 & SR1 Skid Steer Rake Conversation
My name is Scott Holmes and I’m one of the owners of ABI Attachments, and I’m here today with my partner, founder of ABI Attachments and the innovator of our unique ground prep equipment, Kevin Keigley. At ABI we know that there is a lot of market confusion and probably market apathy when it comes to attachments, especially for the skidsteer. How are you to know which ones to buy and which ones really make a difference in your business. The main reason that we know that our ABI attachments will make a difference in your business is because Kevin is one of the largest seeding contractors in the Midwest and has done millions of dollars in seeding projects throughout the years. And at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, “so what?” When it comes to the pieces of equipment that you purchase. How does it make a difference? Why should you invest your time and money and how is it going to affect your bottom line? So, Kevin, we’re here today. We’re talking about the SR3, which is a product that you have patent pendings on and a product that has been long in the development and is very effective for your business. I guess the question for the contractor is, “so what?” Why should they take a look at the SR3?
The SR3 has changed our business. We are now able to take on jobs that nobody else wants. Take this steep banks, for instance, around us, a contractor was had had won this job and was unable to get up and down the slopes with his equipment. We were able to accomplish that with the SR3. It’s opening up doors that we’re able to do that other people can’t.
All right. So are there not other attachments for skidsteers that would allow you to get them up and down all these banks? Why the SR3?
The SR3 can move soil around. OK. We’re able to actually there’s several features to the SR3 that separates it from everything else in the market. First of all, we can rip the soil six, seven inches deep just with a quick hydraulic from your fingertips. And all of a sudden you’re going from moving dirt to ripping dirt deep. Secondly, we can move soil around. We have the after we’ve ripped it down deep and we have all this loose soil very easily, we can push as much as two yards at a time pushing forward with the SR3. It’s going to loosen the soil. It’s going to level the soil, finish the soil. We have designed wheels on this attachment. And what this allows you like no other tool that I know of is you can put this skidsteer in a float position, meaning that the arms are just limp. Now, the full control of the tool is just a one pedal or one hand control operation. All we’re doing is changing the tilt. So as you’re going forward and the tool is resting on the wheels, if you’re tilted forward, it goes into the ground, but only grabs as much as the wheel will allow. And as you tilt it back, material is released. And so you’re allowing material to come back. And fill in the hole.
Right. So literally, as you’re going up and down the inclines or tough areas, you’re able just with one pedal or one control, change whether you’re ripping, raking or releasing the material.
Wow. All right. So I don’t know any other tool that can do that, that’s on the market.
Another huge factor to this is that you were using the tool in both directions. You can push soil in up nice loose soil up to some edges. So that makes it easy for your hand workers to work the edges and they actually pull off the extra soil and pull it back and do a nice finish grade. That is super significant. OK. Because in comparison to other contractors, which will bring a maybe three or four extra men just to do a lot of hand-raking on the job sites, we’re not required to do that because we let the equipment do that hand working for us. So we’re able to loosen it, level it, and when we back drag it, we’re pulling all the rocks off that are needed to be pulled off. There might be some small pebbles left behind. But we’re a firm believer in the drill seeding process. So as opposed to just broadcasting seed out, I want to press the seed in. And when I put that seeder over it, which these are tools that we sell too. The seeders. It’s gonna press the seed in the ground and you will not even see any of those small pebbles. It is surprising how quickly a new person trying to operate this tool will master it within a day.
Well, there is a “so what?” answer right there. I mean, you get new equipment and you’ve got a learning curve and you’ve got employees that maybe can or cannot get the concept of how to use this equipment. You’re saying, pretty easy to figure this one out.
Very easy figured out. The design of the SR3 is tank tough. We use four inch i-beam and 1/2 inch angle iron. I don’t know of another tool out there other than the TR3 that’s built this strong. This frame is not going to bend on you. You cannot hurt this tool.
So if you hit an immovable object, a piece of concrete under the surface, a curb. You’re not going to bend your tool or break your attachment.
Yeah. The worst thing that could happen is possibly a finished comb could possibly break off the bolt. And then just replace the bolt.
Well, that’s easy enough. You know, we’ve talked about… up and down the hills in the hard places and the loosening and the raking, but we really have told the contractors exactly how that’s accomplished with the SR3. And I know that there’s basically three contact points. I mean, that’s why it’s SR3, skidsteer rake, three tools in one, I know we’ve got a grading blade, I know we’ve got ripping and scarifying teeth, and we have a comb. Kind of talk us through how you use it on a daily basis in your job sites.
One of the first things you gonna notice is this has a lot of similar characteristics to the TR3, which is a proven rake for 20 years in the landscape market. The one feature that we’ve been years in developing, I have long to try to have a TR3 for skidsteer and have not been satisfied for eight years in the development. We have finally perfected it. One of the biggest breakthroughs we have is that on the floating drag bar, we have a pivoting rock tooth blade. So that the significance of this is as you’re going forward, that pivots out of the way and there’s no resistance. So all your contact point is that front comb action to allow you to penetrate in the ground, and that floating drag bar is basically becoming a land box. But when you go backwards, it kicks in. It grabs. And now you’re going backwards and you have a floating drag blade. So it’s following the contours of the ground, but it’s also catching rocks with its sifting action, pulling the rocks back to a spoil pile.
Great. And if I’m not mistaken, if you wanted that to be rigid, if you want to pull back a lot of material, you can lock that blade down.
You can lock it down. Some of the reasons you might want to lock it down is if you’re doing a driveway and you want to put compacted hard. Right. You would take on characteristics of the land box because the land box would be rigid and therefore it would actually firm it up. But we don’t want that quality on a seed bed. We want to be able to pull the rocks off without firming it up. So that’s why this is far superior to any land box.
So, if if I understand kind of the dynamics of the skidsteer and the tool together, if you’re on a job site like this, we have an incline or if you’ve got contoured land, maybe like a golf course that you’re wanting to do a job with, you can put the skidsteer in float, the arms and float, and then with a floating drag bar, you’re literally just following the contour and following the grade you want, and yet you’re pulling rocks off and you’re raking and you’re preparing for seed.
All that is absolutely correct. And that’s unlike some other tools that have contact points that are separated by maybe a couple of feet where they’re maybe doing leveling or loosening in one point and leveling in the other. If you would take that over a contour, you’re gonna start to erase your contours. You’re gonna gouge out the top and fill in at the bottom. And that’s not what you wanna do in a landscape situation.
And I know through the years you’ve told me, as I’ve tried to or as I’ve wanted you to put a TR3 on skidsteer. So you said, “but I can’t see anything”. And I know one of the things that you’ve done with this SR3 is you perfected the vision. Talk about that with me. How does that work and what are you trying to see and why is it important to see it?
Well, from the seat of the skidsteer, you can see the comb action. So it’s important that you can push soil up to a concrete edge and then actually tip it up, still using our float position and pull-back the excess soil from that edge and leaving just a little bit of handwork, if hardly any, for to finish it off.
Well, this is really the big brother of your original invention, the tool that you had the patent on 25 ago, a product called the Eliminator, which your name is still on the patent itself. We don’t own that anymore, but you still have your name on the patent. And there’s been tens of thousands of those sold, throughout the country, and this is really the evolution of that tool, and if I’m not mistaken, we also have some lower versions of this that kind of compete now with the Eliminator, if that’s a that’s a good way of putting it. So you can start maybe the Eliminator price point and work your way up to the SR3. So I think we call the SR1, SR2 and SR3.
Alright. I’m curious about this job site because, you know, when we first started talking about this, “so what?” for the contractor. Why should they be interested? It was because they can get jobs and bid on jobs nobody else wants. And you said that a contractor had this but couldn’t do the seeding because he couldn’t manage the banks. How long did it take you guys to do this job? And if you don’t mind me asking, how much money did you make in that amount of time?
This is approximately an acre and a half. My men showed up around 2:00 and by 5:00 they were done. They did all the grading and all the seeding. So we are here today applying the mulch. But this this produced it was about a four thousand dollar bid.
In four hours basically?
Three to four hours.
And how many pieces of equipment, how many men? Basically, we had the SR3 and we did have a tractor to do the flat area on the bottom. So we had two pieces of equipment working simultaneously, but just two laborers, two operators.
Well, that to me, that’s a “so what?” answer to the contractor. Because, it’s all about the bottom line. And what you’re telling me is this SR3 has allowed your company to bring in more jobs at a higher profit margin and put profit at your bottom line.
Yeah, we’ve actually expanded our business because we don’t, we’re not afraid of of doing the excavating part of the job either. If we see vegetation that needs to be removed or pushed in or leveled or haul dirt, we welcome that wholeheartedly. I mean, and there are other contractors that look at that and say, well, we’ll have to sub that part out. We can’t we don’t have the equipment to handle that. That’s not our case. We love those jobs. The fact those are the easiest wants to please the customer because they have to move so much dirt and the vegetation has to be stripped out. So when you get done, it makes such a dramatic change that customers eagerly ready to pay you.
The customer’s expectations low, and then you exceed it, significantly. I remember a job where you were doing the backyard of a homeowner, and literally with the SR3 and a skidsteer, you were pulling trees and roots. I mean, I could not imagine another seeding contractor being able to get in there and do that job and actually get the job done, and I remember seeing you do it.
I actually firmly believed that this SR3 is not only a tool that landscapers are gonna want, but I also believe your excavators and contractors are going to want this too, because they l have a Bobcat. They all have it skidsteer, and when you add this tool to it, your main investment is the skidsteer. My brother just bought one for eighty five thousand dollars not long ago. So when you look at a little more investment and you can take that skidsteer and do more than just bucket work, that you can do grading work, that you do, ripping work, you can do leveling work. For just adding a small amount of money in comparison to the eighty five thousand. Why wouldn’t you do it all day long? You’ve now increased your capability to make more money with that big investment.
Right. I mean you talked about this acre and half job with two pieces of equipment and two employees. That’s got to be a lower employee number than most contractors who put on a job like this.
So not only is this tool allowing you to bid on jobs that you normally don’t want or can’t get, but you doing it with less manpower, which puts money in the bottom line as well.
You know, it’s all about saving time. Why pay people hourly wages when you can have work done and keep the men fresh? That’s key. The more I can do with equipment, the fresher the guys are going to be the next date. And, you know, we’ve gotten to situations where guys will show up at jobs and they don’t have the right equipment cause they know what my equipment can do, and they’ll tell me they can’t do the job. I know they can do it. It’s going take them maybe all day to do it.
They just don’t want to do it.
No, they know the importance of the equipment and they want to stay fresh and they’re ready for another day’s work come tomorrow morning.
One of the big factors here. This is huge. OK. You need to properly relieve the compaction of the soil. If you don’t, the water is not going to get in the ground. And also, the roots are not going to penetrate. We’ve got to get air and water and roots to work into the ground. So you have to relieve the compaction. So if you’re using some of these other power rakes that are only going in the ground three quarters of an inch, maybe an inch if they’re not penetrating the compaction. And because I have the compaction relief where I’m down three or four inches when I run that seeder over it, any pebbles that are there are pressed in the ground. But I’ve got great seedbed. I’ve got the unwanted pebbles that are on the surface pressed into that ground, which has zero effect on the growth of the grass. And one other thing about the drill seeding while we’re on the subject. Drill seeding is great for for germinating the seed quicker. I’ve witnessed that. I’ve seen it firsthand many years ago, I started I did a large project for a big university in our area. And we just put the seed and the mulch and just sprayed it out. It was like five acres. We came back 10 days later and only to witness that the maintenance people had driven a truck, pickup truck all over the property to get from one building to the next. You can’t stop that. But the interesting observation we made was all that grass was up a half an inch.
Where the tire tracks were?
Yes. And and this just reconfirmed what my father was telling me all along, who owned a sod farm in the local area, 450 acres. I grew up on that sod farm, but he said you have to drill seed to get seed germination to come in quicker. So one other thing about the drill seeder. So you got, it helps the germination. It buries any unwanted rock, small pebbles. But the third thing is, if you’re properly putting the drill seeder against the grain or gets the flow of the water, then when that water comes down the hill, it has to fill every groove.
So you’re able to compact the soil and also stop erosion. Not completely. Sometimes straw blankets are required. But this is a great head start to stopping the erosion issue.
Back to that loosening that’s being done with these hydraulic scarifiers that we have, and the scarifiers can loosen anywhere, I mean, you can take them of play, right?
Yes. And you go as deep as…?
I would say, six to seven inches.
And you can do that on the fly?
So as you hit a compacted area going backwards, if you want to get a little more aggressive you just bump the button?
Bump the button and you’re ripping deep and then bump the button up and then you’re feathering it out and just just just all the finesse of a hand rake.
It’s hard to see all that going on. It just looks like, you know, a rake that’s happening. But really, I mean, you’re loosening your raking, your leveling, you’re pulling rocks off and you’re all doing it with a float position and a touch of a button. Pretty cool.
And here’s another thing. We mentioned the word power rake. My observation is, it creates a dust bowl. And if you watch most of the videos, they’ve had a rain recently and they’re showing the tool working. But the reality is, I’ve been out in a situation where 90 degrees, it hasn’t rained in weeks, and I’m out there with something whipping. And I’ve got that whipping action is creating a dust bowl. The SR3… and I’m not saying it’s not dusty, but we’re not whipping the soil, creating more dust. Now we do own power rakes and we sell power rakes and there’s a proper place to use them. But I don’t use them in every application. I only use them when I have an excessive amount of rocks where we’ve pulled as many off as we can with the SR3. But there is a time, it doesn’t happen in maybe 1 in 20 jobs, that I feel I need to go an extra step. Maybe it’s a requirement by the specifications or whatever that I will run this over it one more time. But I have peace of mind knowing I do have the compaction relieved. I do have the levelness, and I’ll use everything with the SR3 and then I’ll take the power rake over it, just as a final dressing. So people that have the, keep your power rakes. There’ll be an occasion you’ll need them, but you will gradually switch over to the SR3. This will be the tool that you’re gonna use every time and then selectively use the power rakes.
Yeah. Excellent. So, Kevin, I have a question. Explain to me the difference between the compaction relief from a power rake in the compaction relief from the SR3. What’s the difference and why does it matter?
Well, your power rake is basically a roller with steel nubs on it that are approximately an inch to inch and a half. OK, so as these numbers go around, it loosens the soil no deeper than the nub. The depth of the nub, which is an inch, inch and a half. Yes. You can push a little bit of soil with it. I understand that. Maybe pull it back, but not to near to the degree we can do with the SR3. But the significance of removing the compaction is, you’re looking at an inch and a half versus six to seven inches with the SR3.
You don’t always have to go six or seven for a seed bed.
What is the maximum? What is the ideal? Let’s put that way.
Ideal, I think three to four, because unfortunately there’s a lot of utilities and sprinkler lines that we all know it, that if you start going more than four inches, you’re gonna start getting into that. But if that’s been a site that’s been there a long time and they’ve had wet conditions and the heavy equipment has driven over it, then you need to try to get down there even deeper than four inches, maybe even to the six.
Because that does what then for the process?
Well, let me just say that when you have wet soil. OK. I don’t know if anybody did this when they were a kid, but we did. You take wet soil, clay particular, make it in a mud ball and set it out in the sun. You know what happens? It’s like a cannonball and you’re done when it’s hard. Same thing is happening to the soil. OK. So you have wet soil and you compact it, take the air out of it, squish the air out of it. When it dries its hard as concrete. So it’s like trying to grow grass. It’s pretty simple principle, trying to grow grass on concrete. It doesn’t work.
There’s nowhere for the root system to go.
That’s right. Or the water to penetrate. There’ll be a hardpan there and the water will penetrate. People wonder, well, why isn’t the grass growing? A lot of times it’s a holding excess moisture.
So the power rake, as it’s spinning and pulverizing an inch and a half, it’s actually creating another hardpan right there and not decompacting…
I wouldn’t say it’s adding to the hardpan, but it’s certainly not relieving it.
Certainly not relieving it, where we are actually ripping and relieving compaction so that the root system and the moisture can percolate and the root system can grow.
It is very key, very key into the growth of the grass. It’s something you don’t want to ignore. In fact, a lot of the specifications that if you read them to the minute detail require compaction relief. And if you’re omitting that step, you’re not living up to your obligations.
Well and the results won’t be as good.
And the results so far won’t be as good. And people will come out and try to put a probe to find out what’s going on. They can’t get the probe in the ground. Well, the compaction should have been relieved to begin with.
Right. Now, I know that you have a skidsteer here that’s got tracks on it. Yeah. And we’ve been talking about getting into tough areas. Are the tracks required to use the SR3?
OK. So a skidsteer with tires will do well also?
Yes. It’s still four wheel drive. It’s going to get to a places where other pieces of equipment can’t. But my preference, if I if I was buying a new piece of equipment, you can’t beat the track Bobcats nowadays because they will push more soil. They’ll go up and down more inclines. You can go on steeper banks. Just again, our slogan, when you know the tough job, you want to be able to do all the tough jobs, that people don’t want to do. But having Tweels doesn’t eliminate the use of SR3.
Kevin, one of the things I noticed when I happened to come out to your job sites and I’m watching you guys do your work with the SR3. Is that it looks like the SR3 is like the extension of your hands. They’re out there and they’re just pushing and pulling and just feathering out real close to sidewalks and tree lawns. And I take it that’s probably a big benefit to the SR3 over maybe some other box scraper type or pulverize or type tools.
Right. When I get on a job site, first thing I do is pulverize the ground. I rip it deep. I get all the compaction relieved. Then I have all this nice loose soil on the surface. OK, so I will take the SR3, and I want to point out one of the characteristics of the SR3, that separate it from the SR2 or the SR1, is that it has the hydraulic scarifying. And with that also comes what I call a backstop. A see-through backstop. Because it’s it protrudes about a couple of feet above the tool. But the unique feature of it is, is that you can see the working action of the comb, but it also as the soil comes up in contact with that, those scarifying shanks. That it actually doesn’t push through, that actually, you’re able to push the soil up ahead as much as two yards at a time.
Almost like a backstop.
It’s a backstop and allows you to push twice as much as in when we don’t have the hydraulic option with the extended shanks.
Right. Right. But I noticed that on the the edge work, you’re not pushing a lot of soil there. You’re you’re really just pushing a little bit and feathering. I mean, it’s really like your fingers are just raking or a hand rake is just raking the edges.
Here’s what I found to be the ideal situation; You loosen the whole project, you push up soil excess amount within six inches of it. Okay. And now you have this nice loose soil. If you simply have somebody with a hand flat shovel or a small rake, that can just pull off some of that excess dirt right to the edge, just the amount he wants, then as he can do that as quickly as you’re going around the perimeter. Then, when he has that all up right to the right to the edge, then you simply come in and put the rake teeth above, on top of that excess soil and pull it back, and it is done. The job’s done. You start. You can start. If you have done your leveling in the high and low spots beforehand, then you just start pulling it off and you can go from one end to the other. And typically you you might find this hard to believe; we can do 10 to 20 thousand square feet with two men, one piece of equipment, in three to four hours.
Wow. And the profit margin has to be huge when you do that.
Well, this is a benefit for the consumer, too. I mean, we’re gonna do a quality job. We take the extra time to do all the clean up, but we’re able to do a proper seedbed for it. And what’s nice about it, we’re gonna be in business tomorrow or somebody else who has excessive amount of labor, pretty soon it’s gonna catch up.
Right. Now that edge technique is something I think you you developed years ago with the first invention. You came out with the Eliminator from years and years ago. So I’m assuming that that kind of technique works on our SR1 and our SR2, which are the little brothers, to the SR3.
OK. The big difference is, you certainly have all the bells and whistles with the SR3. I think it’s well worth the money. And I think if anybody is even thinking about the three of them go for the whole cheer match because, you won’t be disappointed. But the SR2; one of the features it has does not have the drag blade to pull the rocks off, but it has the wheels, so you can still use it and float and you can still rock it on the wheels and control going forward. One other thing that I didn’t mention that comes to mind here when you’re pushing forward, OK, you have the combs extending all the way out. One design feature that we put on the rake purposely was the rake finishing combs extend beyond the tires. And what this allows is, as you’re pushing forward, the tires are tracking inside this new surface area you created and it’s going down or going up. So you’re not getting bouncing and you’re getting a hugging of the ground and you’re creating an upward or downward approach by just changing the tilt. But I just want to point out that we’re not bouncing on whatever terrain there is. We’re creating our own terrain and we’re tracking on that.
And you get that on the SR2 as well.
You get that on the SR2 and the SR3.
But not on the SR1. Because there is no wheel system on the SR1.
No wheel system. But if you’re looking for a bare bones price, you can’t beat the price.
And it’s comparable to your first invention. With some improvements.
The improvements are, it’s built stronger, it’s got i-beam, and it’s got half inch angle iron on it. And the other thing is it’s a foot wider.
And I think there’s adjustable scarifiers so you can change your depth.
Right. Yeah. When I say a foot wider, it’s six and a half feet wide.
Right, right, right. So that’s the SR1, SR2, and SR3 and all that kind of edge work can be done with any of the three of them. But the SR3 has got all the features we’ve talked about today.
All right. Well, Kevin, thanks for giving us your time. I know you’re busy. You’ve got crews out doing lots of work, but I think s important for the contractor to understand the answer to the “so what?” question. You’re looking at thousands of attachments. You’re looking at all kinds of options in the marketplace. You’re trying to put money to the bottom line and you’re trying to ask yourself, how does this impact me? You know, I teach my consultants, my sales reps to not sell features and benefits. I mean, we can talk about loosens, levels, rakes, floating drag bar. But if it doesn’t make a difference to your business, if it doesn’t put money in your pocket, it’s irrelevant to you, and that’s how we design and that’s how we sell. So, if you are interested in the SR3, I strongly encourage you to contact us. Talk to our our senior product specialists. We’ve trained them to to understand this business, to understand your needs, to not pressure you into sales, but to provide solutions for you so that you can put money in your pocket, which really is the ultimate answer to the “so what?” question. So, as you’re looking at attachments, keep us in mind, take a close look at the SR3, study our website. We promise you, you will not be disappointed.