Business: Lakeview Sand and Gravel
In business since: 1947
Location: Paris, Ontario
Doosan machines: DL420-3 and DL420-5 wheel loaders
Doosan dealer: CG Equipment
Most pit and quarry operations that have a high volume of work tend to have a handful of full-time employees. However, Matthew Willson, owner of Lakeview Sand and Gravel, does things a bit differently. On average, Willson has only one full-time employee to assist him. During the busy season, he employs two more workers.
“I am very invested in my business,” he says. “I find that anything I can save on is a profit to Lakeview Sand and Gravel. So whatever I can do myself — by being hands-on — during nights and weekends, is labor I do not have to pay for throughout the week.”
The Willson family got its first taste of owning and operating its own company in 1947 when Willson’s grandfather, Murvyn, started Paris Construction. As the construction business steadily grew, Willson’s father, Robert, decided to try his hand at managing his own business. One of those businesses included the purchase of Lakeview Sand and Gravel, located in Paris, Ontario, in 1980. Growing up in the business and seeing how profitable the sand and gravel pit could be, Willson continued in his father’s footsteps by buying the 300acre quarry from his father.
“I have been around machinery all my life,” he says. “That was my job. I did not just do it on the weekend — I would be on the jobsite every morning and running the machine all day. I saw how profitable the business could be and understood how the business worked, so I decided to buy the company.”
Willson is a “one-man band” who sells material, works on invoices, collects garbage, cuts grass and mends fences at some time or another. He operates his two Doosan wheel loaders — a DL420-3 and DL420-5 — which are used to dig, transport and load material that is later screened and sold to local municipalities and construction companies.
Lakeview Sand and Gravel actively competes with other gravel pits in the area by using a variety of heavy equipment. The Doosan DL420-3 and DL420-5 wheel loaders complete a majority of the work. Willson bought his first Doosan wheel loader in 2002 and has bought a new Doosan loader approximately every four years since.
“I was a bit skeptical at first since I had not seen many Doosan machines before, but the machine was fantastic,” he says. “Our wheel loaders have been the most consistent and reliable machines throughout the years.”
Working efficiently with loaders
Both Doosan loaders play an important part in the transporting and screening process by helping dig the material, dump it into the screening plant, load the screened piles and place it into trucks. With dump heights of approximately 10 feet, Willson says he can work more efficiently and quickly with the wheel loaders. In addition to transporting material, Willson uses the machines for reclamation work, such as stripping the topsoil.
Since the wheel loaders are working 10 hours a day, five days a week, Willson says he makes sure he can get the best fuel economy while maximizing machine performance. “I use the Economy work mode and really notice the fuel change,” he says. “They are very good on fuel economy yet can be pushed hard.”
Maintaining good visibility is essential to maximizing loader performance and keeping operators safe, Willson adds. “Our wheel loader operators are pretty busy, so when there are a lot of people around, I want them to be able to see who is coming in and out of the gravel quarry,” he says.
Willson attributes his success to his employees, truck drivers, his reputation, making good business decisions and maintaining reliable equipment. By completing regular service intervals, such as checking the fluids and filters, Willson has bypassed any major issues with his Doosan wheel loaders.
“Anybody can work hard, but you’ve got to work smart,” Willson says. “I think the way I work smart is by working hard. My employees work hard, I work hard, but the machines work just as hard. As much as I’m invested in my business, I know that one of the things I don’t have to worry about is the machines and experiencing problems with my equipment.”