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Grade Tech Services Simplifies Fueling, Maintenance with Thunder Creek Trailers

January 2024

“We do power.” That simple statement is the foundation for Grade Tech Power Services, a civil contractor and family-owned business that grades and excavates sites exclusively for power generation companies. Their work includes right-of-way paths for installing power lines, as well as sitework for building, expanding and demolishing substations across the western United States. 

Supplying these services, plus reclamation and restoration, is where the Midvale, Utah-based company excels — from both a safety and quality standpoint.

“We got into this work years and years ago here, just working on the local substations and all the upgrades for the Olympics back [in] 2002 in Salt Lake City,” said Rory Hall, co-owner and operations manager, Grade Tech Power Services. “But ultimately, to stay in the work that we do, we have to travel. 100 percent.”

With the travel required to provide services across Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, California, and more, comes logistical considerations — particularly for fueling equipment and performing maintenance in the field.

“The initial struggle was fuel on site,” Hall explained. “And then, one of our biggest challenges was with the auto greasers. We were spending hours filling them up with a little hand grease gun.”

Recognizing that this approach to maintenance was costing time, money and labor that could be used elsewhere, the company turned to Thunder Creek Multi-Tank Oil Trailers (MTO) in the 690-gallon capacity. Since making the investment, Grade Tech Services has seen significant benefits in time, efficiency, and labor.

Streamlining fueling and maintenance
When prepping the sites for power companies, Hall and his crew run a diverse fleet of both compact and heavy equipment to grade and excavate. They regularly build the pads for structures and poles to be installed and excavate and backfill for structural concrete at the front end of the job. Once the power company has completed the wiring and power line installation, Grade Tech then reclaims the area, putting it back to its natural state.

“We run a lot of small equipment, whether it's mini skidders or cast slingers for putting in gravel and backfilling foundations. Then we go all the way up to D8 dozers, power wheel scrapers and graders,” Hall said. “We move dirt just like everybody else does. But ours is a little more precise.”

The Thunder Creek MTO has proven to be a reliable solution in caring for all the equipment. This multi-fluid trailer offers both fuel and preventive maintenance solutions. It can hold up to six service fuels, including oil, diesel, coolant and tanks for waste oil reclaim with additional systems for grease and DEF.

“The MTOs have been a huge problem-solver for us,” says Hall. “Depending on our crew size, we only need to get fuel once a week. We can leave the trailer on site. At the end of every week, we either fill them up locally or the fuel companies come out and fill us up.”

That efficiency is in stark contrast to the process Grade Tech relied on before investing in the MTOs. Previously, the crew carried tanks and smaller containers in their trucks that could require multiple trips to refill during the two to three weeks they were on a project — time that Hall needed crew members on site.

“If we only had a couple crew trucks and were in middle of nowhere, we’d fuel up our iron and have to send someone back to town,” he explained. “Because we work and travel all over, we're not usually close to anything. We're 20 to 30 minutes from the closest town on average. We don’t have to worry about that lost time with the MTOs.”

Hall has also seen increased efficiency with its routine maintenance. Because the MTOs feature a system for grease, the crew can quickly and easily grease components on its equipment.

“Before, we’d have to have a box of grease and make sure we had enough charged grease gun batteries,” said Hall. “We’d sit there and pump the grease pots full every day and would just be there waiting to finish it.”

Hall and his crew also like the DEF system included on the MTOs, since it eliminates the need to load two-gallon jugs into truck beds and allows for faster fill times.

According to Hall, in addition to saving time, the MTOs have allowed them to better organize the daily care of equipment.

“We have a very structured system now. We make sure everything at the end of a shift is taken care of. We fuel all our equipment. We grease everything,” he explained. “The guys have a better sense about the overall maintenance. It’s kind of like running their own fleet.”

Hall added that there is less opportunity for maintenance activities to be overlooked since the crew has all the tools onsite that they need. It’s also faster than having just one person care for the equipment or risking downtime if a piece of equipment runs out of fuel.

Along with fuel and daily fluids, Grade Tech also enjoys the convenience of having a compressor, generator, and other tools on their MTO. The company also supplements the MTOs with one of Thunder Creek’s No HAZMAT Multi-Tank fuel and service trailers (MTT), which supplies Hall and the crew with additional diesel fuel when needed.

Environmental advantages
Along with the efficiencies that Grade Tech has gained with the MTO, Hall appreciates the added environmental benefits the trailer offers.

“We work in very environmentally sensitive settings. Before, if we had five-gallon buckets of oil or other fluids, along with taking too much time to care for the equipment, we’d run the risk of making messes,” he explained.

With the MTO, Grade Tech has fluids at the ready and doesn’t have to worry about extra oil containment.

“The other piece of the puzzle there is when we’re moving the trailer and fueling each piece of equipment, we’re not creating a little spill zone,” Hall added. “Plus, the way these trailers are built, we don’t get any scrutiny from anyone on the environmental side of things. It's been a huge, helpful piece for us.”

Not only is this design more environmentally sound, but it also eliminates the need for Hall and his crew to carry HAZMAT endorsements. In many instances (depending on truck and trailer combinations, and local regulations), crew members may not need a CDL either. From a labor standpoint, those benefits are important.

“Any of our younger crew members, under the age of 21, wouldn’t have valid HAZMAT or CDLS when we leave the state. And we leave the state week in and week out,” explained Hall. “So that's another huge advantage, not having to have of those. It's very helpful.”

Looking forward
Grade Tech has carved a place for itself serving the power generation industry. Hall says the company relies on organic growth to build the business and prides itself on retaining crew members, especially with the travel required for the job.

“We don't go chasing work unless it's with our relationships and we're asked to go there. And that's worked very well for us,” he said.

As the company moves forward, Hall and the crew will continue to look for ways to streamline their operations. That includes improvements brought by their Thunder Creek MTOs.

“All I can say is we love them. They've been great to us,” Hall said. “I’d absolutely recommend them.”