In a meeting with highway department officials Wednesday, county commissioners agreed to purchase two excavators that are more expensive than most of the other bids submitted.
The commissioners and highway department officials agreed that even though the two Caterpillar hydraulic excavators are more expensive than some other brands that they could last longer and therefore save the county money in the long run.
The Caterpillar bid was the third most expensive of nine bids submitted. But officials say two of the other bids submitted did not meet the county’s needs because they were for mini excavators.
While Caterpillar did not have the lowest bid, it was still the best, Franklin County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke said.
The commission next Tuesday is expected to award the Caterpillar bid to John Fabick Tractor of Fenton. The total cost of the two Caterpillar excavators will be $216,514.
County officials discussed purchasing the two excavators Wednesday in a work session.
Excavators are a key piece of highway department equipment, officials say. They are used to clean debris, move rock and do culvert work.
“It’s a workhorse; it replaces the shovel,” said Darren Walker, the highway department’s West District supervisor.
Second District Commissioner Mike Schatz agreed that the Caterpillars are “phenomenal pieces of equipment.”
Likewise, First District Commissioner Tim Brinker said he has “no problem defending the position” of purchasing the two Caterpillars.
“It’s within budget,” Brinker said, adding that it sounds as though the Caterpillars will give the taxpayers the “best bang for their buck.”
Two of the bids submitted from JCB of St. Louis were for mini excavators. The bids submitted for the mini excavators were $152,372 and $157,972. Those bids covered the price of two excavators.
Gadcke said JCB is based in the United Kingdom. Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said he did not want the county to be the “training ground” for a machine from England.
Moreover, Griesheimer said the county workers who will operate the excavators prefer the Caterpillar model.
Caterpillar is bringing all of its excavator construction back to the United States, Gadcke added.
“They are trying very hard to make a full American-made product,” she said, adding that the Caterpillar models are also easy to service.
Erb Equipment of Fenton submitted two bids for John Deere models. One bid put the total cost of two used models at $185,046 and two new ones for $221,260.
Rudd Equipment of St. Louis submitted three bids. One bid was for a pair of Hitachis at $193,870 and another pair at $202,500. Rudd’s other bid was for a pair of Volvos at $202,508. And Roland Machinery of Bridgeton bid a pair of Komatsus for $217,900.
Gadcke said Caterpillar is the “Mercedes-Benz of equipment.”
Another advantage to going with the Caterpillars is that they are ready to be delivered to the county while the other models could have a wait time of one to four months, Brinker said.