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Efficient Fuelling for Alpine Specialty Earthworks: Navigating Remote Terrain with Precision

November 2023

Custom Home Excavation

Summit County, CO

Alpine Specialty Earthworks is a full service excavation contractor with 25 years of experience in a variety of specialties including custom home excavation. Prior to Thunder Creek, Alpine used 100 gallon transfer tanks, but as the company began working in more remote areas with larger equipment, a more efficient fuel delivery solution became necessary. Read on to discover how Alpine utilizes a trio of No-HAZMAT Thunder Creek fuel trailers to get fuel where and when they need it - keeping their machinery moving and their jobs on schedule.

Alpine Specialty Earthworks is a highly reputable excavation company in Summit County, Colorado. Todd Alcock, the company’s co-owner, has helped grow the company’s scale and expertise as a custom home excavator over more than two decades of working with homeowners and developers from communities surrounding the county seat – Breckenridge.

“My business partner and I started 25 years ago, largely doing what we’re doing now, but on a much smaller scale with simpler homes and small garage additions,” Alcock said. “Over the years, the industry has become more complex. The houses being built now are larger, in more remote locations, and on subpar soils. We’ve adapted our business to be able to handle this kind of complex home foundation.”

Alpine has a full fleet of heavy and compact equipment, ranging from full-size excavators to mini-excavators, to wheel loaders, skid steers, and remote-controlled grading solutions. On a recent job, Alcock ran the company’s Hitachi ZX380LC-6 excavator while colleagues simultaneously operated a wheel loader, two mini excavators, and dump trucks on a mountainside residential site. In total, the company’s fleet includes 11 pieces of excavation equipment, plus compaction equipment of various sizes.

Today, Alpine Specialty Earthwork has three Thunder Creek Equipment Multi-Tank Trailers in its fleet to help keep equipment fueled while maximizing uptime. But prior to the 460-gallon no HAZMAT trailers, their fuel handling didn’t always go so smoothly. “Before we got the Thunder Creek trailers, we used two or three pickup trucks with 100 gallon tanks. It worked for us until we started getting into remote areas and figuring out that we needed bigger equipment,” Alcock said. “Between the steep hills and the larger equipment, our fuel demand drastically increased.”

And then there were other challenges. When the Alpine Specialty Earthworks team was planning for a months-long summer project, they took an older 500-gallon bulk tank to the job site. Unfortunately, that tank had accrued a certain amount of sediment and contaminants, and when it was transported, the contaminants were disturbed. On certain days during that job, the Alpine team went through as many as three fuel filters a day for several weeks on whatever machine they were filling. It was having an impact on their machines, and their business.

The Alpine Specialty Earthworks team decided it was time to invest in a better option that split the difference between the 100-gallon tanks they were using, and a full-sized fuel truck, which requires a driver with a commercial driver’s license and HAZMAT authorizations.

“We are just not large enough to be able to afford a full-size, over-the-road, several-thousand gallon fuel supply truck. It’s just too expensive for our size of company. At the same time, the pickup trucks were also too expensive,” Alcock said. “When we came across Thunder Creek Equipment, we found that their trailer fit our needs perfectly. We started with one, but we’ve had so much success that we now own three.”

If they have multiple projects going on, Alpine Specialty Earthworks can park a Thunder Creek trailer at each job site and the fuel supply company will visit each site and fill them. If they have less than three projects, they simply park one of the Thunder Creek trailers at their centrally located shop and then swap out tanks as needed.

“We’ve found numerous benefits in our Thunder Creek trailer. We have one person in charge of all our fuel, but he’s also in charge of many other things, like maintenance, parts supply, a lot of coordination with people and other companies,” Alcock said. “Our Thunder Creek trailer allows him to go to our job site, drop off the fuel trailer and then go about his day, doing things that are much more valuable to the company. We just pull up to the trailer, run the fuel to the machine and keep on moving. There’s a lot of value in that for us.”

That person in charge of fuel is Chad Lovings, an Alpine Specialty Earthworks employee for more than four years. He said the Thunder Creek trailer has maximized his efficiency. Because the Alpine crew often works at high altitudes with short windows of good weather, they need to always be ready to move.

“I wear many hats within the company. I order and manage our supplies, service the equipment, run machinery, and several other things,” Lovings said. “Our Thunder Creek trailer has been a lifesaver. It has done nothing but save time within our company. When our machines are cranking, we don’t want to have to worry about running out of fuel or wasting time delivering fuel to various job sites. It’s great to be able to just park a filled trailer on a job site.

“These machines [speaking specifically about the Hitachi ZX380LC-6 excavator] can guzzle about 80 gallons in a day. That’s just a lot for one guy like myself, to be able to fuel all our equipment in a day. So being able to arrive with the Thunder Creek trailer, saves a significant amount of time for me not having to come back to the job site repetitively, day by day. This trailer allows me to stay on top of other responsibilities.”

The 460-gallon size capacity is ideal for Alpine Specialty Earthworks, allowing it to be maneuvered into tight spots on compact job sites. And Alcock says towing their Thunder Creek trailer is easy and manageable, not requiring a large truck to transport it. He also appreciates the additional dry storage space, keeping supplies dry and locked.

Finally, as a mid-size business in a premier residential market, finding CDL drivers and operators with a HAZMAT is incredibly difficult, Alcock said. So having a fueling solution that doesn’t require either takes a major burden off Alpine, but he also has the peace of mind that it’s a high-quality, safe, and reliable solution.

“When we hire new employees, we typically have quite a bit of training to do,” Alcock said. “Not having to add CDL training on top of that is extremely valuable and was a huge factor in us choosing our Thunder Creek trailer.”

The trailers, Lovings said, have helped Alpine elevate its game both from an operational and branding perspective.

“We’re proud of our Thunder Creek trailers. We’ve saved a significant amount of time on refueling. In any given week, we might burn through a thousand gallons of fuel. It would be cumbersome for us to do that with just 100-gallon tanks on the back of a truck. And that’s time that we’re able to spend keeping the machines running instead of fueling them,” Lovings said. “The investment in Thunder Creek is worth it. The moment you begin using it, you won’t have any regrets. And I guarantee you before too long, if you’re a growing company, you’re going to buy more.”