For Riley Lecka, the decision to switch to a new machine control technology provider was an easy one. As director of construction for Wildlands Construction, based in Kernersville, N.C., he works on some of the most complex and unique stream and restoration projects in the country and relies on technology to keep his projects running efficiently and profitably.
Since Lecka first started using machine control in 2006, he’s operated all three major brands at various times. He shares how he came to his decision to convert to Leica Geosystems machine control with sales and support from his local dealer, Transit & Level.
Technology Provider Red Flags
1. Unresolved support issues
“My former technology provider did a pretty good job in the beginning, but the support became worse over the years,” says Lecka. “Instead of spending time to come out to the job and figure out the problem, they would try to tackle nearly everything by logging into the machine.”
“I couldn’t trust the systems anymore,” he says. “Every time we went to a new job, there was always a problem with calibration of the machines.”
2. Failure to accept responsibility
Along with repairs that didn’t solve the calibration issue, there were bills. “The dealer was billing for every call, and I was very reluctant to pay when the issue was still ongoing,” adds Lecka.
When problems continued, Lecka appealed for a resolution. “Instead of trying to help me, they presented me with all the call-in logs that indicated when we called in and what was going on,” says Lecka. “To me, the call logs show that the dealer isn’t doing their job. I’m calling in, but they’re not fixing the problem.”
What To Do Next
1. Test a new provider and ensure they’re a good fit
After meeting with Transit & Level, Lecka purchased his first Leica machine control system. His relationship with Senior Sales Manager Rick Harbaugh and Territory Manager Brian Combs was key.
“Transit and Level promised to give me the right help,” says Lecka. “Technology is always going to mess up. What’s important to me is the daily commitment.”
The purchase was essentially a test of both the technology and the dealer. Over a year and a half, both the technology and dealer came through for Wildlands. According to Lecka, his team had high praise for the Lecia machine control system.
“The software in the tablet and the machine screen are very user friendly,” says Lecka. “It’s very easy to navigate because you have everything you need is on one screen. Out of the three systems that I’ve used, the more I get in tune with this, the more I like it versus the other ones.”
Combs adds that even a trial of a week or two “should give a contractor a pretty good idea of how the technology is going to change their workflow, and if their crew is going to use it.”
“I had zero worries about the integration of it, because we had already had one system with very limited issues through a year-and-a-half. Once we started switching the machines, it was like clockwork.”
— Riley Lecka, Wildlands Construction
As far as the support, Lecka feels Transit & Level is a good fit for Wildlands’ business. “There is respect and understanding of the expectations of the partnership,” says Lecka. “They know who I am and know I have high expectations. They are more boots-on-the-ground kind of guys. If there’s a problem, they’re going to come out here and fix the problem.”
“I don’t want to have to call 15 people to get an answer,” he adds. “I want to call one guy. And that’s what’s nice about Transit & Level. I can call one guy, and within a matter of hours, I have some sort of answer. Either they’re coming out to fix it on this day, or they’re calling me back to say, hey, go into the screen and do this.”
Transit and Level understands the importance of minimizing downtime. “If technology goes down, it’s like a machine going down, because our customers rely on it daily to do their work,” says Combs. “Other technology providers might not be out there for a week or even two weeks to look at it. We are typically out the same day or the next day to see what’s going on and what we need to do to get them back up and running.”
Lecka believes it’s important to find a dealer that understands your needs and technology you are comfortable with. “Technology reliability and dealer support are key,” he says.
2. Plan for a smooth transition
In June 2023, Wildlands made the decision to convert all their construction technology to Leica Geosystems. The company purchased four excavator systems along with two base stations and rovers. “The only thing that kept me from switching sooner was the financial part because we had so much invested with another brand,” says Lecka. “I had zero worries about the integration of it, because we had already had one system with very limited issues through a year-and-a-half. Once we started switching the machines, it was like clockwork.”
From there, Lecka focused on making sure his team was well trained on the new system and that it was put in place with minimal downtime. “They were very good about scheduling and the implementation of the new technology,” says Lecka.
While some of his people were initially resistant to change, now they all really like the system. “It didn’t take long,” says Lecka. “Now that they’re all on one system, everything is easier, including the creation of 3D files and moving people from one crew to another.”
3. Evaluate the end results
So, has the move to Leica Geosystems machine control paid off for Wildlands?
“I’m really happy we made the switch,” says Lecka. “Our downtime has been cut by 75%,”.
That’s all the evidence you need to know the right support and technology are in place.