Taking Underground Work to a New Level


Utility contractor Con-Elco Ltd. is on a mission for continuous improvement and efficiency. And the company is using Hitachi excavators to take underground work to a new level of quality.

Established in 1978 under the Con-Drain Group of Companies, Con-Elco is run by Fiore Melatti and his sons, Nick and Attilio.

“We started with one machine. Over the years we grew and we keep growing,” said Mr. Fiore.

Part of that growth involved adapting to market needs with the acquisition of Fellmore Electric, which specializes in roadway and parking lot lighting systems, in 1991, and of Grimsby Construction this past year. Today Con-Elco, with its affiliated companies, offers the total package when it comes to upgrading and installing new utilities and services for residential developments – from underground hydro and gas to fiber optics, cable, telecommunication services and lighting.

Thinking Outside the Box
Con-Elco’s fleet includes about 21 Hitachi excavators ranging from the ZX135 to the ZX210 size. Most recently, five ZX210LC-5 excavators were added to the fleet in August 2015. However, the company didn’t always use tracked excavators for its work.

“We used rubber tire backhoes like most companies, but my father’s always been someone that’s looked at doing things better and being more efficient,” said Nick Melatti. “We began looking at Hitachi equipment about 10 years ago.”

“We started with the Hitachi 160,” added Fiore Melatti. “I did a little investigating with asking other people, and they said it was a good machine. We tried it, and it worked for us. We saw an increase in production using the tracked machines.”
Brian Machado, a Con-Elco superintendent, sees the Hitachi excavators at work firsthand in the many projects Con-Elco takes on. The work being done on a residential development with 372 lots (in one phase) in Brampton, Ontario, is just one example.

“We install about 200 m of utilities every day on a 9-hour shift,” he said. “The Hitachi excavators are powerful and faster than other machines.”

Con-Elco’s sites also showcase the versatility of the excavators, such as a ZX160LC-5 trenching, backfilling and using its quick coupler to switch out buckets.

“I’ve operated other brands before, and Hitachi has come a long way,” said Con-Elco operator Jamie Talbot. “They’re comfortable and fast.”

Evolving with the Industry
“Con-Elco has experienced a changing industry over the past 38 years,” said Mr. Attilio. “One of the reasons the company looked to Hitachi was to stay ahead of the curve.

“As things evolved and the industry was changing, we wanted to use manufacturers that were leading-edge as far as size of machine and ability for digging in situations we were using it for,” he said. “Hitachi has been a good fit for us.”

As a result, the company’s fleet has tackled changing workloads and timelines as well.

“Typically we should be doing a lot more work in the summer, but we tend to do a lot more work in the wintertime now,” said Nick Melatti. “And we’re finding Hitachi’s reliability in the cold weather and the ability for the machine to break out the frost seems to be a little bit higher than the competitors out there. We’re also finding that the guys running the machines tend to gear themselves to liking the Hitachi more as far as ease of use and reliability.”

Over the years, Hitachi equipment has become a competitive differentiator for Con-Elco and an extension of its brand.
“We’re a company that’s been around a long time, and we want our customers to know that we have good equipment and that we are reliable,” said Nick Melatti. “Because we’re working with a lot of the utilities out there, there’s a safety aspect of it.”

Source: Hitachi Construction Machinery

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