140 plays central role at Lot Scapes, a land improvement company
DOSWELL, Virginia – Dream catchers get going even as others keep imagining. Candy Eubank, owner of Lot Scapes, acted soon after a casual drive along a country road gave her a glimpse of her future.
“We saw this machine working and we thought it was really interesting technology,” said Candy. The machine took stumpage, saplings, scraggy regrowth and understory and converted all the material to mulch. She decided that choosing an “entry-level machine” that had the same approach would be a good way to launch Lot Scapes. That was almost three years ago.
By 2007, Candy owned — and was operating — a Supertrak SK140TR rubber track machine from Supertrak, Inc. “We actually started with a different machine than Supertrak,” she said. “Then, we knew we needed a different machine,” one that could work fast enough to serve a growing number of customers.
The Supertrak SK140TR has been in service for “two years now,” said Candy. “We shopped around. We bought it from Supertrak directly.”
The experience of adding the Supertrak SK140TR has been a good one. “Supertrak, Inc. – those guys have just done a remarkable job of making [the machine] accessible and designed to work in the woods,” said Candy. “As for the Supertrak, it’s a workhorse. The back opens up and it’s easy to clean.”
Level ground is not the norm in the terrain confronted by the Supertrak. So the agility of the machine is much appreciated by Candy. “It will climb quite a steep hill,” she explained.
Moreover, the Supertrak earns great marks for efficiency. “I can run on a full tank of fuel for eight hours,” said Candy. The tank holds 45 gallons.
Lot Scapes uses a straightforward method in its work, a method that began with a focus on assisting landowners recovering from storm damage. “We market cleanup for minimal land – and soil – disturbance,” said Candy. “We don’t haul anything away. The mulch left behind is beautiful.”
Mulch that remains on a customer’s site is dispersed in an even layer. It is the result of a committed machine operator, Candy, working in concert with a reliable piece of equipment. The emphasis is on reliable.
“Once we knew what we were looking for,” the decision was easy, said Candy. Supertrak is “truly the leader in the machine” of its type.
The Supertrak, like all machines from Supertrak, is built to meet the specifications provided by the buyer. Florida-based Supertrak is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that uses Cat® components. The Supertrak that powers Lot Scapes is a rubber-track machine with a 140 horsepower engine.
Candy chose a cutter head from FAE USA, Inc. because she was familiar with it. The head on Candy’s Supertrak fits her needs, but customers of Supertrak have many options. In addition to being an OEM that uses Cat components, Supertrak, Inc. is a representative for numerous other attachment and implement companies including FAE USA, Inc. and Fecon USA, Inc.
Even before Candy started Lot Scapes, she owned land-tending equipment that was deployed at her 21-acre farm. The farm is dedicated to Brahman cattle and Tennessee Walker horses; it was a joint purchase by Candy and her husband, Mark Eubank, more than 14 years ago.
Mark, who is also an owner of Lot Scapes, will assume a full-time role at Lot Scapes beginning in January 2010, after he departs from a 24-year career in boat-manufacturing (December 31, 2009). He is eager to switch to an exclusive and personal professional commitment. “All my life I have worked in someone else’s company,” said Mark. “All the blood, sweat, and tears I have suffered through for someone else…” It will be gratifying to be doing that “for ourselves.”
As for the leadership structure of Lot Scapes, Mark stressed that Candy is the entrepreneur and at the helm. “She is the principal,” he said. “I’m coming to work for her.”
Candy and Mark talked separately about each other in a way that amplified their mutual respect and love, as well as their joint dedication to Lot Scapes. Emergency hose repairs might be handled by Mark, for instance, so that Candy can use the time to scope or bid a job.
Separating marketable trees from those destined to be mulched is something Candy does with great skill. “We pretty much merchandise anything merchandisable,” she said.
“Everything from commercial property to residential to government contracts” is in the portfolio of Lot Scapes, said Candy. Most jobs are within a 100-mile radius of Doswell, Virginia, the home base of the company. Doswell is located in Hanover County in the east-central part of The Old Dominion. The town has approximately 2,000 residents.
Candy relies on a Ford 550 with a gooseneck and dually to get her Supertrak to job sites. Productivity of the Supertrak is everything promised, she said.
“I have taken some really big trees,” said Candy. The Supertrak 140, which is built for high production, is fast. “We can clear somewhere between one and three acres a day,” she explained, depending on diameters of the biggest material, density of growth and species.
Complementing the efforts of the Supertrak at Lot Scapes are a number of machines. For cutting on hillsides, which have included dam slopes, there is a John Deere 290D excavator mounted shredder. A compact ASV 120 horsepower tree and brush shredder is used in tight spaces, such as hiking trails. (The Supertrak takes on much trail work, too.)
In addition, the Lot Scapes equipment list includes a Hi-Flow tree shear, a Hi-Flow stump grinder and a Franklin Prime Mover. The Franklin also has a cutter head from FAE.
Six employees are on the payroll at Lot Scapes. One of them is a full-time mechanic. Besides operators for equipment, Candy depends on having a “helper on the ground” to monitor the site for stray material. For example, the assistant might pick up and pile sticks that were already present. Candy then mulches them, using the Supertrak.
Just as the Supertrak is a good partner to Lot Scapes, so too are Mark and Candy good partners in business and in marriage. “I love working with my wife,” said Mark.
Thinking ahead, Mark envisions the current-day Lot Scapes as just the beginning. “Driving a new technology is very exciting,” he said. Down the road, Mark sees possibilities for franchising the company. And there might be other marketable products, such as biofuel.
Or, mulch, said Candy. For now, though, a clean, environmentally sound result is the primary product. The mulch produced by the Supertrak 140 is spread in a smooth layer across the substrate. It serves as a natural retainer of moisture, while it contributes to the organic horizon of soil and encourages regrowth of vegetation.
Lot Scapes is becoming so well known its name has become a verb to some prospective customers. That is, as in “come and ‘lot-scape our lot,’ ” explained Mark.
Candy’s insight into the business niche of land clearing draws praise from Mark. “Our original intent was to clean up our own land,” he said. To be sure, the couple had experience with wood grinders before they even thought about perfecting landscapes.
But ideas about acreage beyond their own quickly flowed and action followed. “When we went into business, it was [Candy’s] entrepreneurial” drive, he explained, that propelled the effort.
Others noticed that the farm owned by Candy and Mark was picture perfect and they asked for help in cleaning up their own lots.
While a great impetus for success at Lot Scapes has been the force of Candy, another has been the choices that have been made in equipment. “Supertrak, Inc. was the single best move we ever made,” said Mark.
“Supertrak – that thing is a show stopper,” said Mark. “It turns heads wherever we go.”
And Mark speaks from the perspective of someone with a true affinity for machines. “I have a fascination with machinery,” he said. “I started in the marine industry as a mechanic.” After that, he wore almost as many hats, including marketing and sales, as exist in the boat industry.
The economy has put a significant slump in the number of buyers of boats, said Mark. At the same time, he sees opportunities only growing in the optimum use of wood fiber. So he is excited about leaving one great industry for another.
For her part, Candy relishes her work. She even has a favorite encapsulation to describe the Lot Scapes endeavor. “We eat trees,” said Candy. That is a simple way to get across the concept, or at least to a point. In this case it is a refined, neat and wholly aesthetic eating.
“When you take a piece of property that has a lot of storm damage and you can clean it up, leaving behind big beautiful trees,” it’s rewarding, said Candy. “Beautification” is always on her mind, she explained.
A member of the Virginia Forestry Association and the Women’s Business League of Richmond, Candy is engaged in her profession. Free time is for riding horses, Candy’s passion since youth.