West of Wyoming's famous Teton Mountains, the land drops to form the Teton Valley of eastern Idaho. This spacious basin is home to 6,500 people, a number that is expected to triple in the next three to five years. Many of the residents commute to work in Idaho Falls or across the state line in Jackson, WY.
With the Teton, Big Hole and Palisades mountain ranges defining the valley's edges, developers are taking advantage of the area's natural beauty by constructing hotels, condominiums and large new homes. One of the attractions bringing in new people, in addition to the scenery, is what some experts consider the world's best trout fishing on the Teton River and the Henry's Fork of the Snake River. The area offers a host of other outdoor adventures such as hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, white water rafting, hunting, and skiing. As if this was not enough, a number of golf courses are already part of the landscape, with more under construction.
The rate of growth is fueling expansion among local developers and contractors. Among them is a 16-year-old excavation company, now in its second generation of ownership. Matkin Brothers Excavation serves the Teton Valley with commercial and residential excavation services. Brothers Clint, Billy and Bucky run the company.
Challenge for Excavators
"Excavating in the valley is a challenge," said Bucky Matkin. "You have a wonderful view, but you have to deal with the steep slopes. You may find yourself digging in clay, cobblestone or sandstone. Sometimes you find yourself blasting solid rock."
Home site excavation is a major part of Matkin Brothers work.
"We've excavated 75 homes at the Teton Springs Golf Club over the past five years," Bucky said.
One current Matkin Brothers project involves excavating a basement for a 3,000-square-foot home.
"We're excavating a full basement and building an access road 1-quarter-mile long," he explained.
For the typical basement excavation, Matkin Brothers uses a Case CX160 excavator equipped with a 1-cubic-yard bucket and thumb attachment.
"The thumb comes in handy for manipulating rocks around the site. I couldn't get by without one," Bucky said.
In another part of the Teton Valley, Billy Matkin is digging foundations and crawl spaces for Aspen Pointe, which will have 100 condominiums when the five-phase project is completed. "We're installing infrastructure, taking the sewer and water into the building," Billy said.
Matkin Brothers also is performing the preparation work on the roads and driveways for the condominium development. The final step is to clear and clean up the worksite so that it is ready for landscaping.
Matkin Brothers does not limit its business to residential construction. Among the company's commercial projects is a hotel in Victor, ID, located in the heart of the valley. Matkin Brothers installed the water, sewer, curb and gutter. The contractor also prepared the roadbed for its asphalt subcontractor.
"We built a parking lot that can handle 25 cars and a main entrance road that is 600 feet long," Bucky said.
Matkin Brothers buys their heavy machinery through Pioneer Equipment, located in Idaho Falls. In addition to the CX160 and CX210 excavators, the Matkin Brothers' fleet of all-Case equipment includes five 580 Super M loader/backhoes, a second CX160 excavator, a 750K crawler dozer, a 440 skid steer loader, and two wheel loaders — a 621B and a 721B. The company recently tested a new Case 821E wheel loader in its gravel pit for possible purchase.
Matkin Brothers does its own regular maintenance, relying on Pioneer Equipment for parts and warranty work on major repairs.
"We've had a great relationship with Pioneer Equipment over the years. They treat us well," Bucky said.
He explained his preference for the CX160: "In addition to the comfortable ride, the visibility is darn good. It's as smooth an operating machine as I've been in."
He also indicated that he likes the sound hydraulics and the easy serviceability.
"The power-to-weight ratio is perfect," he said. "The CX160 has all the power a machine of that size needs."
Billy Matkin prefers the Case CX210 because of the power and cycle speed.
"I can do the big jobs and the smaller stuff, too. It's a nice medium-sized machine," he explained, adding that he also enjoys the "very comfortable ride with good visibility from the cab."
Whatever their individual model preferences, the Matkins plan to continue using their fleet of Case equipment while playing a major role in the rapid expansion of the Teton Valley.