There's a nice "welcome" to the event.
Kelly Tractor took its turn to host Cat's 2019 Global Operator Challenge Aug. 21 to 24 in Miami, Fla., and will send a winner to compete in the North American Regional Finals in Clayton, N.C., in October.
The Kelly Tractor Challenge was a four-day event and provided contestants plenty of days to select from for traveling to the event to compete. The final day of competition was purposely scheduled for a Saturday to make it more of a family day for Kelly Tractor and its customers.
"For me the toughest part of the competition was the mini-excavator challenge," said contestant Shawn Murray of Murray Land Development, West Palm Beach, Fla. "I don't typically run machines that small, so adjusting to that was tough. I'm not real familiar with a lot of the newest technology of these machines and that was another big challenge for me, but very interesting to learn and they are actually pretty incredible. I can now see how these new features can add more profit to a business."
Contestant Doug Richards of Quality Enterprises, Naples, Fla., said that it was a good course. The compact track loader challenge, which required getting the bar through a series of elevated C shaped collars, turned out to be his most difficult event for him.
"I really liked all the machines," Richards said. "For me it was a little weird with no steering wheel on the loader. However, it actually turned out to be a little easier to run once I got used to it. All in all, I had a really good time."
Chris Kelly of Kelly Tractor was happy with the opportunity to host the event.
"We've done customer events similar to this in the past, but this is the first time we've set up this type of challenge for the operator," he said. "Last year, we hosted Technology Days on this same site. Hopefully. most that are competing are already familiar with all next generation Cat machines being used in the competitions. If not, I think this is yet another great opportunity for operators to try out the newest Cat technology.
"I love South Florida," he added. "I love our territory. We have the best customers, and I couldn't be happier with being a part of this community. Even though we're an industry, it's still a community — a community that I grew up in and always look forward to continuing to serve."
The competition at Kelly Tractor is part of the overall Cat 2019 Global Operator Challenge in which the winner advances to the North American Regional Finals in Clayton, N.C., in October to compete with other regional finalists. The regional champions then advance to compete against operators from other regions and contestants from around the world at the Cat Global Finals at ConExpo in Las Vegas in 2020. The winner of the Kelly Tractor Challenge was Steve Eakins, D.S. Eakins Construction; second place winner was George Johnson, Douglas N Higgins Inc.; and third place winner was Michael Escalona, Gene Contracting.
Intertwined with the competition was the opportunity to get a hands-on feel of the Next Generation Caterpillar products, gain more information on all of the SITECH technology products available; enjoy a terrific catered lunch; and grab some great giveaway items. CEG
Signing in to compete in the challenge are Doug Richards (L) and Robert Emerson (R) of Quality Enterprises, Naples, Fla., with their Kelly Tractor sales representative Darryl Walters.
Steve Eakins of D.S. Eakins Construction, Palm Beach, Fla., gets set to tackle the compact track loader event. He would go on to win the entire competition.
Kelly Tractor’s Gabriella Gallardo (R) resets the stopwatch and stages another contestant for a run at the compact track loader competition.
The Cat 279D compact track loader competition was set up with a tricky series of “C collars” that required competitors to thread a PVC pipe through.
Each day, guests flocked to the SITECH display to gain more information on the latest technology solutions for their machines.
Stephen Miraglia of SITECH South checks the depth of the trench in the Cat 336 excavator challenge before the scoring can be tabulated and confirmed.
There’s a nice “welcome” to the event.
A contestant in the “Fully Loaded” challenge operates a Cat 966M wheel loader and attempts a perfect 22-ton load onto a Cat articulated truck using payload scale technology on the loader.
It’s always fun to watch a big Cat D6 in a timed obstacle course.
Plenty of support equipment from Kelly Tractor and Kelly Rents was out keeping the lot clean, including this Massey Ferguson 4607M tractor with Smith-Challenger SCM 78 Flex Blade on the back and SCM 100 broom on the front.
(L-R): Tony Allanic of Kelly Tractor talks with Carlos Rodriguez, South Florida Excavating, Miami, Fla., and Shawn Murray, Murray Land Development, West Palm Beach, Fla., about their runs at each of the challenges.
Robby Dale of Kelly Tractor gives complete instructions to a contestant for the Cat 336 excavator competition.
SITECH South staffers join the Kelly family at the event and (L-R) include Orlin Gavarrete and Robert Hutchinson, SITECH South; Chris Kelly and Katherine Kelly of Kelly Tractor; Spencer Dean and Stephen Miraglia of SITECH South.
Antonio Perez (L) of McEvoy Construction, Miami, Fla., gets a warm welcome to the event from his Kelly Tractor sales representative Tony Allanic.
Todd Albanese (L) of Kelly Tractor and his dad, Vic Albanese, check out the new Cat machines and the competition. Vic flew in from Chicago earlier in the day to catch the event.
Greg Bennett (C), Kelly Tractor governmental sales representative, enjoys some post-lunch discussions with his friends from Miami-Dade County Roads & Bridges.
Enjoying their day in the sun (and some rain) on Friday of the competition (L-R) are Katherine Kelly; Louis Mijares, Bulk Express Transport, Miami, Fla.; Ramiro Cabana, who has had a remarkable 41-year sales career at Kelly Tractor; and Caroline Fisher of Caterpillar.
Kelly Tractor Certified Dealer Instructor, Jamie Hoffman (C) discusses and holds a Q&A session about the new generation of Cat machines with a group of business owners and municipality supervisors.