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Tom Gardocki, New Era Excavation

Tom Gardocki is excavating a narrow, muddy, crooked sliver of land beside a lakefront house in New Hampshire, and he’s working so quickly and easily you’d swear he was born in the cab of a John Deere.

Truth is, Gardocki was operating equipment before he was even in kindergarten — a skid steer, at 4 and a back-hoe at 6. But that was just for fun. He didn’t get serious about running machinery on the job for his parents’ landscaping business until he hit double-digits, age 10. By high school, he and his friend Craig Hammel were working as landscapers, then attended the University of New Hampshire to study construction management.

Today, their business, New Era Excavation in Londonderry, New Hampshire, is an earth-shaking success. It’s doubled its business almost every year since beginning in 2015. Part of their success is attributable to the business skills they learned in college, Gardocki says. “You can be really good at digging holes,” he says, “But if you can’t do the numbers it doesn’t really work. You have to have both.”

The other part is their engcon equipment. New Era got its first engcon EC226 in 2017, as engcon was just entering the North American market.

“It was the first one that engcon North America sold in the United States,” Gardocki said proudly, pointing to the machine he’s using by the lakefront. “And that’s it right there.”

“Aside from a rebuild last winter and some maintenance, [the engcon] has been trouble-free,” Gardocki said.

New Era has two EC226’s and one EC223. He also has a Kimatsu PC 360, “…which is the biggest machine in the world running an engcon coupler.,” he said. When asked what engcon attachments has, he just laughed. “All of them,” he said.

Gardocki, who knows his way around YouTube, Facebook and Instagram where he is known as the Dirt Ninja since 2010, had seen engcon equipment on social media being used in Europe, and thought, “That would be pretty cool.” As The Dirt Ninja, Gardocki has posted hundreds of videos of everything from tips, to tricks, to time-lapses of his work. One video that features engcon’s 10-foot grading beam has over 11 million facebook views.

“I really like showing off the work we do,” he says. “Social media is a great marketing tool if used correctly. Customers can get to know you and your company before they even pick up the phone to request a quote.

“It’s also great for networking. We have found other great contractors in the area that we now work with or sub work out to. I also like showing the tools and equipment that we use and sharing tips and tricks to the equipment or operating,” he said.

A facebook post with photos by The Dirt Ninja about the lakefront project we visited reads:

“We are back at one of our waterfront projects starting excavation for a fairly complicated poured retaining wall. About 165 ft of retaining wall will be poured, some sections as high as 13ft to hold up the driveway and septic system. It will also have a set of stairs down the side of the house to access the pond. Some of the footings are 9ft wide and 1.5ft thick and the walls have 1" rebar in them! It will be 13- feet at its highest point, and has footings of 9 feet.” Gardocki estimates that this kind of close-quarters job makes-up about 80 percent of New Era’s business.

“They’re mostly waterfront properties, which means they are very small lots. Generally, there are very wealthy people buying the lots so they want to maximize the house they can put-on it, so they’re trying to put the biggest house possible on the smallest lot. So, you have very limited space but you still need large equipment in order to do the job efficiently. To do these small jobs with a large piece of equipment, the engcon is essential to us to fit into all the areas that we need to fit into,” Gardocki said.

And the ability to change attachments quickly and easily has become essential. “EC-Oil is great,” he noted. “I can't live without it. We use it all the time with all the attachments we have. It’s so awesome that you can change from attachment to attachment in under 10 seconds and never get out of the machine to touch a hydraulic hose. “

On the back porch of the house, looking out over Cobberts Pond, Gardocki pointed out, “If I didn’t have the tilt-rotator, I couldn’t use this big a machine on the site (a 1999 John Deere 200lc running an EC226). I’d have to use a smaller machine because I couldn’t get into the spaces I have to get into.” And that in turn would require more help — at least one or two more guys, a mini-excavator, and the challenge of moving the dirt.

The narrow work area on the lakefront project meant the biggest difficulty was efficiently loading all that dirt into the large dump truck, because it was uphill from the excavator, and the excavator itself was uphill from the digging site. “If I have a traditional excavator, and you go to curl when you’re below the truck, you can’t curl enough, so the dirt falls out. I’d be spilling a lot and getting dirt all over the trucks. But with the engcon I’m able to spin the bucket,” and all the dirt falls right on target. That’s the beauty of the engcon, Gardocki said. “The machine can be in any position and you can dig in any position.”

Growing the business remains a priority for Gardocki and Hammel, who are in their mid-30s. Gardocki, who is married, has a 2-year-old and another baby on the way, and is building his own family home.

New Era’s three engcons are part of the winning formula that includes decades of diverse work experience, an education in business management, and the right equipment that helps their operation run smoothly, even when they find themselves in tight spots.

« EC-Oil is great, I can't live without it. »

Tom Gardocki
New Era Excavation

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