When Randy and Kenny Robison buy a Hitachi excavator, it becomes part of the family.
The Robison family is a close group. Randy and Kenny Robison are not only brothers, they also run mining businesses together. And every time they buy a Hitachi excavator, it becomes part of the family, too – with each one getting named.
Randy, owner of Cedar Lake Mining, and Kenny found their way into mining by following their father’s footsteps.
“My daddy mined coal back in the ‘60s,” Kenny said. “Back then, there weren’t any regulations, so he just went out and found a place to start mining coal.”
Randy and Kenny got into the mining business in 1977.
“We started with a used bulldozer with a cable blade and used wheel loaders,” Randy said. “In the late ‘90s, we bought a used EX1100. That was our first excavator and the first of many Hitachi machines.”
Expanding the Family
The brothers are particular about the machines they buy to work in their Alabama coal mines. The last few years, they’ve been on a roll buying EX3600-6 Hitachi excavators – they’re now up to five.
Flat Top Mine, the company’s newest mine, features the newest Robison family member – one of the fleet of EX3600-6 excavators called “Maddie.” Named after Randy’s granddaughter, Maddie has been loading three, 200-ton trucks since January.
Teddy Rhodes, who has more than 20 years of operator experience, can’t say enough good things about the excavator.
“It’s like a dream,” Rhodes said. “It’s really quick for its size, and as far as other brands, there’s no comparison. There's not much I’ve come across that this can’t handle.”
Meanwhile another EX3600-6, “Dusty,” has racked up more than 16,000 hours at the company’s Reese’s Branch Mine, loading three, 200-ton trucks. Reese’s Branch Mine produces about 28,000-30,000 tons of coal each month, mining at a depth of180 feet for the top seam and down to 230 feet to reach the bottom seam.
Mining the Mountain
Kenny runs Sloan Mountain Mine, which is owned by MS&R Equipment, a company the brothers co-own.
This is where “Gator,” an EX3600-6, is helping produce about 28,000 tons of coal each month. Gator, named in remembrance of a long-time employee, has about 21,000 hours and loads three, 200-ton trucks almost around the clock. The mine currently runs two, nine-hour shifts.
Covering about 800 acres, Sloan Mountain Mine follows three seams of coal – the Upper Jefferson, the Lower Jefferson and Black Creek, its primary seam that sits at a depth of 210 feet.
Kenny’s son, Wade, also works at Sloan Mountain Mine, operating an EX1900-6 named “Tater” that loads three, 100-ton trucks. Wade has operated other excavator brands, and said Tater makes the top of his list.
“I love this machine,” Wade said. “It’s got about 16,000 hours and is really fast – it almost outworks itself.”
Wade said he enjoys being part of the family business.
“I like working for my dad. He can give me a hard time, but I dish it back,” he laughed.
Holding a place of honor at Sloan Mountain Mine is the Super EX1100, the Robison brothers’ first Hitachi machine. Its productivity is proven with a staggering 36,000 hours of loyalty!
“Hitachi makes great machines that are reliable and hold their value,” Kenny said. “Hitachi helps us stay profitable.”
Cedar Lake Mining and MS&R Equipment also have strong support from the local Hitachi dealer, Warrior Tractor. After all, Vann Neal, territory manager at Warrior Tractor, orders the name decals for the machines.
“We’ve been pleased with the service that Warrior Tractor provides,” Randy said. “They are dependable and available whenever we need them. We’re looking forward to adding more Hitachi machines to the family.”
Cedar Lake Mining and MS&R Equipment are serviced by Warrior Tractor, Pelham, Ala.