Bigfoot Construction Equipment’s owner, Jeff Steiner, shares his company’s story.
From its humble beginnings in a one-car garage to its current strong standing in the world of outrigger pads, Bigfoot Construction Equipment stands out for its innovative products and commitment to safety.
But what truly drives this company, and how does it rise to meet the evolving demands in construction? Join us as we dive deep into a conversation with Jeff Steiner, owner and member of the Bigfoot family, uncovering the spirit of innovation, resilience, and commitment to ensuring unwavering safety and efficiency on construction sites across the globe.
TUC: Can you walk us through the story of Bigfoot Construction Equipment, and what drove you/and or your family to this specific sector?
Steiner: Bigfoot was founded in 1991 by my father, “Bigfoot” Bill Steiner, while he was working in the concrete pump industry. He noticed concrete pump operators struggling to find reliable outrigger pads while working on the job site and started making them himself in his one-car garage that was heated by a wood-burning stove.
Over the years, he worked to develop a reliable material that would not erode or deteriorate from use. It’s now known as our Custom Composite material. His outrigger pads were also useful in other industries, such as the utility, crane, well-digging, and tree-trimming industries.
TUC: How does Bigfoot Construction Equipment differentiate itself within the telecom and utility construction industries?
Steiner: Bigfoot Construction differentiates itself by being the only major manufacturer of both wood and Custom Composite outrigger pads. Outrigger-equipped equipment faces different challenges in different geography throughout the country and the world. In drier climates, wood pads are preferred because water damage is not as much an issue and they are more cost effective.
In places with heavy rain and/or snow, wood will struggle to maintain its integrity, which is why the Custom Composite material is so useful.
Additionally, Bigfoot does custom builds for our customers. Every job site is different, sometimes custom builds are the only way to effectively stabilize the ground in a given scenario.
Using custom materials, handles, surfaces, features, and dimensions is where Bigfoot differentiates itself from other companies, allowing every customer to make sure they are equipping themselves with the right pads.
TUC: What are some unique challenges in the telecom and utility construction sectors when it comes to equipment stability and safety, and how does Bigfoot address them?
Steiner: Unique challenges we see often are night-work hazards that present themselves where the outrigger system is extended and hard to see for workers or civilians passing by the job site. Our twilight and guardian pads use LED lights attached to the pad and glow strips charged by sunlight to bring attention to the outrigger system, avoiding slips, trips, falls, and collisions.
TUC: How have Bigfoot’s products evolved to meet the changing demands of the telecom and utility construction sectors over the years?
Steiner: We have added night-work features, as previously mentioned, as well as products like our pole puller plate, boom shims for the utility pole to rest on, making it easy to pick and place instead of lying flat on the ground. Bigfoot also sells ground mats/access mats to complement our existing ground stability product line. That saves customers time because they don’t have to find different vendors and also saves cost on shipping, making it easy for utilities to get in and out of undeveloped ground and then safely set up.
TUC: Ensuring equipment quality in various settings, from bustling cities to remote sites, must be challenging. How does Bigfoot maintain consistency?
Steiner: Bigfoot maintains consistency by using only American-made materials, making all our pads here in Woodstock, Illinois. Using American suppliers and labor gives us quality control, eliminating issues caused by cutting costs and getting material from overseas.
TUC: Could you highlight a particular project where Bigfoot’s equipment played a crucial role in guaranteeing the project’s safety and efficiency?
Steiner: Bigfoot outrigger pads were used by Atlas Crane in Aurora, Illinois, while it repaired and installed wind turbines. The ground was frozen.Outrigger pads are often made of HDPE,which is susceptible to brittle failure. This occurs when the chemicals that the pad is made of get so cold that the pad shatters under the weight of the equipment.Bigfoot’s Custom Composite material does not do this and ensured a safe lift in the adverse conditions.
TUC: What new opportunities and challenges do cutting-edge telecom technologies bring to the construction space, from Bigfoot’s perspective?
Steiner: As equipment advances, it often becomes larger and heavier, putting more stress on the ground it is set up on. Whether it is a truck crane or utility truck, the ground bearing capacity remains the same while the equipment increases in size and capability.
That is where the challenge of continuing to set up safe arises, but the opportunity for Bigfoot to lend our expertise and outrigger pads comes into play.
We always work with our customers to figure out what ground conditions they are setting up on and the weight of their equipment so we can assign an outrigger pad that will accomplish the job safely.
TUC: How crucial is customer feedback to Bigfoot, and how do you integrate it into your product development strategy?
Steiner: Customer feedback is everything! The customer knows their setup the best, so the more they communicate with us the better we can build pads that help them work in the safest conditions possible.
TUC: Could you give us some insight into Bigfoot’s research and development initiatives? Are there groundbreaking products we should anticipate soon?
Steiner: We are always listening to customer feedback and studying the markets we are in, identifying opportunities and challenges. We just developed our brand-new Steel Crane Mats made for cranes from 200 to 500 tons, addressing heavier equipment.
TUC: As the owner of Bigfoot Construction Equipment what’s the most formidable challenge you’ve faced, and how did you steer through it?
Steiner: The most formidable challenge Bigfoot has faced has been supply chain issues and labor shortages, brought on by the shifting landscape of the economy and workforce during the pandemic. Bigfoot steered through it by staying open during the height of the pandemic, making sure our employees kept their jobs, and also by catering to the construction demands that were still taking place during COVID-19.
TUC: As we look toward the future, where do you envision Bigfoot Construction Equipment standing in the next decade?
Steiner: We envision Bigfoot Construction being the first company that comes to mind when outriggers are being put to use. Bigfoot helps provide strength, stability, and safety so the hardworking personnel that build our great country and the rest of the world can work safely and efficiently and not worry about the ground under their equipment giving way.
Eliminating the variable of ground bearing capacity is our main focus, and we want this to be addressed without cutting corners and trying to get away with unsafe setups due to a lack of knowledge around the subject.