LINCOLN, Nebraska – Scott Hofeling has gone where the opportunities are, making the best of them and using them to propel his business forward and allow him to expand. Along the way he has come to rely on HogZilla grinders from CW Mill Equipment.
Scott, 57, got his start in the forest products industry by working in a tree service business. After high school he worked in grocery management for a time until a friend asked him to help out in his tree service business. Scott invested in a bucket truck and got more deeply involved with each job until he was taking on his own tree trimming jobs. He started his own company and eventually bought his first grinder.
The company has grown significantly. It now operates a recycling yard where homeowners, tree service companies, and other businesses can bring and dispose of wood debris material – even scrap pallets – for a tipping fee. Hofeling Enterprises uses the material to produce premium mulch. The company also offers land-clearing and on-site grinding services. Scott still has an affiliated tree service business, too, The Tree Guys. Hofeling Enterprises employs 10-12 people, including Scott’s wife, LeAnn, who is vice president.
“We offer the best product and service,” said Scott. That applies to all components of Hofeling Enterprises, which he launched in 1997.
Land-clearing jobs are typically small development projects ranging from one to 10 acres.
The company will use an excavator to push down and remove trees. If the job is not far, in order to make the best use of the electric grinder the company will haul the wood material back to the yard for grinding. In some cases it only provides on-site grinding of wood debris. The company also makes slash mulch for state highway projects.
Scott first got to know Tim Wenger, the owner (and vice president and sales manager) of CW Mill Equipment, in 2007. Scott had found a used HogZilla grinder that he wanted to purchase and have refurbished.
Naturally, he turned to CW Mill Equipment to get the project done. By the end of 2008, Scott had purchased two used HogZilla machines and had them both refurbished by CW Mill Equipment. Up until that point, Scott had relied on a lighter duty grinder from another manufacturer, but his business was growing, and he needed more grinding power and capacity.
Hofeling Enterprises makes mulch from green wood fiber. Much of the company’s mulch production is colored, and all of it is sold bulk. Pallets and similar wood debris are processed separately, and the wood grindings are sold for boiler fuel to ethanol fuel production plants or for bedding material to poultry farmers.
Hofeling Enterprises is based in Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska, in the southeast portion of the state. The city is just under 60 miles southwest of Omaha, so the company can serve customers in Nebraska’s two largest urban areas. The business is situated on 10 acres and has a 1,200-square-foot office and 2,600-square-foot shop.
When Scott spoke with TimberLine in August, he had just completed covering the entire area with a concrete pad to prevent raw material and finished mulch products from being contaminated with mud and rocks. He also had just completed the purchase of four adjacent acres that includes a 2,400-square-foot office and 18,000-square-foot shop.
In addition to its two HogZilla grinders, the company has an assortment of three Cat excavators and one Volvo plus five Cat loaders and one Komatsu. It is equipped with six semi-tractors plus six self-loading trailers (Dorsey, Peerless, and Wilkins). Scott just bought two new Mack semi-tractors.
Hofeling Enterprises has two HogZilla tub grinders. The HogZilla TCII-1564P is diesel-powered. The HogZilla TC-1564PE was a diesel machine but it was converted to electric as part of its refurbishment by CW Mill Equipment. Customization is the rule, not the exception, at CW Mill Equipment. The company offers customization of new machines as well as when it refurbishes used machines.
Scott particularly likes the electric-powered HogZilla machine – it starts fast, and it is more economical to run because it does not require diesel fuel. For providing on-site grinding services at customer locations or job sites, the company uses the portable, diesel-powered HogZilla grinder.
CW Mill Equipment Co., located in Sabetha, Kansas, 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. CW 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 CW 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.)
Scott knows he can rely on both HogZilla grinders. “They’re heavy-duty built,” he said, which makes them durable and reliable. A refurbished HogZilla grinder is expected to see at least 10,000 hours of service.
More customers are requesting a grinder be converted from diesel to electric power when they have the machine rebuilt, noted Tim. Some customers perceive electric power as “greener,” he said. The electric models certainly are more economical to operate than those with a diesel engine and its associated cost of fuel.
Having both diesel and electric grinders gives an owner some flexibility when the fuel prices or electric rates increase. It also can help with the unexpected. In ordinary times, it can take considerable time to repair a diesel engine. With the slowdown of supply chains since 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, getting diesel engines repaired has taken even longer.
Scott’s diesel-powered HogZilla is equipped with CW Mill’s signature torque converter. “I love the torque converter,” he said, noting that it saves the clutch. “I hate clutches.”
The II in the HogZilla TCII-1564P model number indicates the machine has a hammermill assembly that can be changed to different swing diameters. This enables the machine to be used for different grinding requirements.
Tim and the team at CW Mill Equipment strive for continuous improvement of the company’s machines. Getting on the road is integral to his job. “One part of my job I enjoy is traveling, seeing what other people are doing,” said Tim. “I feel our customers and HogZilla are part of a family, a partnership. It’s enjoyable to watch customers grow from smaller to larger (companies). It’s been enjoyable to watch Scott’s company grow. I take some pride in the role HogZilla plays with all our customers.”
Refurbished grinders can be a very good, cost-effective choice for a company, observed Tim. And CW Mill Equipment considers refurbishment part of its commitment to customization in the broadest sense of the word.
“I highly recommend them,” said Scott of CW Mill Equipment. “I can call and talk to the owner. They will walk me through any problem.”
For Scott and LeAnn, a big source of motivation in starting their recycling and mulch production operations was the amount of scrap wood material generated by his tree service work. Now they operate a recycling yard where other businesses, local and state governments, and homeowners can dispose of wood debris. And the material is recycled and put to good use.
About 70 percent of the company’s grinder output becomes mulch, and most of the production is colored. The company uses an environmentally-friendly, vegetable-based dye to color grindings in shades of black, brown, and red. It also offers natural, uncolored mulch. A dedicated trommel is used for coloring mulch. The company’s most popular colors are ‘chocolate’ and ‘espresso.’
Mulch is sold retail to homeowners as well as wholesale to landscape contractors, nurseries, and garden centers. For 2019-20, the company delivered 3,000 tractor-trailer loads – equivalent to 240,000 cubic yards. “Every year is better,” said Scott. “I can tell you that.”
The tree species that predominate in the mix of wood debris are oak, maple, hackberry, and cottonwood. Only rarely does Scott’s company sort out grade logs from the mix to sell to sawmills because they don’t get many.
The emerald ash borer is a problem insect in the region. However, it does not interfere with the company’s mulch operations. Scott explained that the company must use trommel screens that are specified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in order to prevent the spread of the destructive beetle.
Scott occasionally operates equipment, but for the most part he stays busy managing the companies. His truck doubles as his office. “I don’t spend much time in the office,” said Scott. “I do most of my work from my pickup.”
Whichever product is being made or service being provided, Scott explained, he has a single guiding philosophy: “Give everybody their money’s worth.”
Hofeling Enterprises is a member of the Nebraska Recycling Council and the Tree Care Industry Association. Scott received a grant from the council in 2020 that allowed him to add another self-unloading trailer that helped increase delivery volume by 26 percent compared to 2019.
Scott is committed to sustainable business operations. For example, he is not interested in adding bagging operations for mulch because it would add plastic to the waste stream. He and LeAnn are committed to helping others cut their reliance on fossil fuels. In 2018, their company received the End Market of the Year Award from the recycling council.
In their free time Scott and LeAnn enjoy traveling, especially to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.