GLADEWATER, Texas – Trendsetter Construction has grown by leaps and bounds under the second generation of the Campbell family leadership, branching out and expanding into a number of new areas of business.
It remains committed, however, to providing services to clear land for new construction projects. And committed to the C.W. Mill Equipment Co. HogZilla grinders that enable it to recycle the wood debris from its land-clearing work.
Jerry Campbell started Jerry Campbell Construction in Gladewater, Texas, in 1978, focusing on excavation work and other tasks associated with residential building construction. Since deceased, the business he started today is led by two sons, Joel, CEO, and Robert, president and chief operations officer. Their mother, Shirley Campbell-Wright, who served as chief financial officer for 30 years, is chair emeritus and still is an important presence in the business although she has stepped back from day-to-day activities.
Joel and Robert have helped transform Trendsetter Construction from a local family business of 10 people into an all-inclusive construction solutions provider with over seven stand-alone service lines and 300 employees. The company’s services include surveying, excavation, pipeline construction, facilities installation and maintenance, machine automated control, consulting and design, and recycling, which was added in 2007.
Customers include energy businesses and oil and gas companies.
Trendsetter Construction is headquartered in Gladewater, Texas, about 115 miles east of Dallas and only about 85 miles west of Shreveport, Louisiana. The company has three other offices in Texas and one in Louisiana as well as offices at its two recycling yards. One recycling yard is located in Tyler, about 25 miles southeast, and the other is in Longview, only about 12 miles to the east.
Kenny Trotter is manager of the company’s recycling operations. He has worked full-time in the recycling division since 2015 and has operated every one of the company’s grinders.
The company’s three HogZilla machines are mainly used for grinding wood material that is removed from land it clears for residential or commercial construction projects. “We do some for the oil and gas industry, but most of it is for commercial construction,” said Kenny.
Commercial construction projects range from a lot for one home to a subdivision road right-of-way or 30 acres for a new shopping center. A typical job is 2-12 acres, said Kenny.
The wood from these projects is not merchandised; all of it is processed by grinding. The company’s recycling products include mulch, compost, garden soil, and boiler fuel.
Depending on the size of the job – the number of acres – and the location, the wood debris is processed by grinding on-site or hauled back to one of the company’s yards for grinding. For example, on a small job located adjacent to homes the material would be trucked to one of the yards. Otherwise, the material normally is processed by grinding on-site.
The terrain in the region can be both flat or rolling hills, according to Kenny. The dominant tree species is loblolly pine, also known as bull pine. The trees can be quite large, noted Kenny. The stump from one tree with its root ball has been known to entirely fill up a tub grinder.
The recycling operations are equipped with four Komatsu excavators for removing trees; the machines simply push the trees down. Loggers typically are hired to cut off the root ball and buck the trees into 6-8-foot lengths with chainsaws. The recycling division employees occasionally use a chainsaw, too.
“We like to drop the tree as connected with the stump,” said Kenny. “When you push it over, it brings up the stump,” which is more efficient than cutting the tree down and then digging or grubbing out the stump.
The process is cleaner, too, explained Kenny. The root ball retains less dirt when the tree is pushed over compared to digging or grubbing it out of the ground. That’s important for two reasons: keeping dirt and rocks out of the grinder, to protect it, and keeping dirt and debris out of the finished products.
The company has four of the Komatsu excavators; two are equipped with buckets and thumbs to push down the trees, and the other two are equipped with grapples for handling and stacking wood material as well as feeding it to the grinder. For some projects the company may contract with a logger to use a skidder to move trees to the grinding area.
Trendsetter Construction is equipped with three Hogzilla tub grinders. One is a stationary electric-powered machine, model TC1664-SE, located in the company’s recycling yard in Tyler. The other two are portable (trailer mounted), diesel-powered, model TCII-1564P machines.
The latest addition was a portable machine that was purchased in 2015.
Kenny operated the company’s grinders for 4-5 years. When he spoke with TimberLine he was filling in for another employee and operating one of the grinders.
Asked how the HogZilla machines have held up during that period, he answered, “Great.”
“Their output of material is the best I’ve ever seen,” said Kenny. In addition, the machines tolerate contaminants well. “We don’t have a lot of down time or issues with them.”
Before going to work for Trendsetter Construction, Kenny worked for another company that also had grinding operations. The machines were a different brand than HogZilla and required steady maintenance and repairs, according to Kenny. “We worked on them pretty much every day or every week.”
The HogZilla grinders are maintained by the recycling division staff – the operators and a mechanic. They replace wearable parts, change screens and rollers, and service the machines with oil changes and lubricants.
“Anything big, C.W. Mill helps out with their technicians,” said Kenny.
C.W. Mill Equipment Co. is located in Sabetha, Kansas. It has been manufacturing grinding equipment for more than 45 years. Its brand of HogZilla grinders is used by the construction and demolition industry, green energy producers, land-clearing contractors, and other businesses for large-scale volume reduction of wood material. HogZilla grinders can be powered by diesel engines or electric motors. Customers can choose from over 20 models, which include self-propelled (track-driven) and self-loading units. C.W. Mill Equipment manufactures both tub grinders and horizontal grinders.
The TC series of HogZilla grinders takes its name from the torque converter drive. It allows the engine to perform at peak efficiency with multiplied torque. Because of the converter, governed speed is maintained irrespective of the load. Torque converters allow the engine to avoid lugging and needless racing while protecting the engine from shock and loads from torsion. The strength and reliability of industrial torque converters were proven decades ago in the rock crushing industry, and C.W. Mill Equipment Co. pioneered and perfected their use in tub grinders for wood material.
The TC series of HogZilla grinders comes standard with a Caterpillar C32 1,000 hp diesel engine. Other standard features include electronic horsepower controller, remote control, stacking elevator, vulcanized conveyor belts, auxiliary hydraulic power, hydraulic rod puller, and more. Options include a package for processing tires, various deflectors and restraints, mulch coloring attachment, fire suppression systems, and more.
(For more information about HogZilla grinders, visit www.hogzilla.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (800) 743-3491.)
As the manager of the recycling operations, Kenny is in regular contact with C.W. Mill Equipment to order parts, get over-the-phone assistance, or request a service visit by a technician.
“I rate their service a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10,” said Kenny. “I tell them what I need, and they know what I’m talking about. They never send the wrong part. I don’t even need to know the part number.”
C.W. Mill Equipment also provides strong support for troubleshooting problems over the phone. “I rate that 10, too,” said Kenny. There has never been an instance when C.W. Mill Equipment staff could not help him troubleshoot an issue over the phone, he said.
Trendsetter Construction has been having discussions with C.W. Mill Equipment about whether to trade in units on new machines or to refurbish the grinders when needed. “We’re planning on having C.W. Mill Equipment rebuild a machine,” said Kenny. The portable tub grinders probably will be sent to C.W. Mill Equipment for refurbishing as needed, one at a time.
The recycling yard in Tyler is about 65 acres, and the Long View yard, 30 acres. Trendsetter Construction allows other businesses to off-load tree debris and other green waste at its yards for a tipping fee. It collects material from landscapers, tree service companies, and others, which provides more raw material. About 50 percent of the material in the wood yard comes from Trendsetter Construction land-clearing operations and the other 50 percent from tipping, estimated Kenny.
The operations at the yards produce mulch, compost, and hog fuel for wood-burning energy plants. The products are generally sold wholesale. The company also has a half-dozen Komatsu and Cat wheel loaders in the yards to move and load material.
The company’s biggest client is Scotts, the manufacturer of lawn care products. Scotts buys the majority of the mulch and compost produced by Trendsetter Construction and uses it as a raw material.
“We probably generate 65-80,000 cubic yards (annually) of compost alone for Scott’s and another 30,000 yards of mulch,” said Kenny.
Trendsetter Construction mulch is a combination of pine and mixed hardwoods, like sweet gum, red oak, and white oak. In making mulch, the ‘overs’ that are screened out from a first grind are collected and put through the machine a second time for a different size cut and screen.
None of the company’s mulch is colored, and none of the recycling products are bagged. They are all sold and supplied in bulk form – mostly to stocking dealers and retailers. A small volume is sold retail to people who come with a pickup truck and-or a trailer.
The company stays busy with its land-clearing and recycling operations. “We pride ourselves with the projects we complete for all our customers, and in return it keeps us with a steady flow of work,” said Kenny. “We are our people, with an excellent customer list.”