Reliable equipment is a small independent contractor’s best friend. For Thomas Jackson, owner of Jackson Foundations in LaPorte, Indiana, it didn’t take long before he found the building block for his company in the Takeuchi TL26 track loader.
Starting off as a home remodeling business, Jackson Foundations ultimately set its sights on and found its niche in the modular home market. Fifty percent of the work they now perform is building 4-foot walls for modular homes and slab on grade foundations, and another 50 percent is on floors for post frame builders.
At the time Jackson began working with modular homes, the market was just getting started. He admits custom builders originally frowned on him working in the modular industry. “I never feared it,” says Jackson. “I felt strongly the market was coming and I wanted to be on the front edge of it.”
His intuition proved right and before long, Jackson found himself working on an average of 40 to 60 houses each year. At the same time the modular market took off, Jackson also started pouring floors for a builder that specialized in large barns.
“I needed something to grade those floors with — and most people were buying skid steer machines and putting metal tracks over the tires,” says Jackson. “Across town, Holt Equipment had a Takeuchi TL26 built with tracks. Takeuchi was a new brand to the area, so I was only the second person to purchase the TL26.”
The TL26 instantly became an advantage. With residential jobs the contractor performs, garage doors are typically seven feet tall. Jackson explains how he had tested many other machines that wouldn’t fit underneath the garage door and are also too big to grade a garage floor. His TL26 can. Even with walkout basements that are equipped with a 6-foot-wide patio door, they can drive through the opening to grade the floors.
“The Takeuchi track loader is a small-but-mighty machine — I never once remember wishing it had more power,” says Jackson. “Granted it takes a good operator to do what we do, but it is amazing how fast we can grade a floor.”
Throughout the 20 years Jackson Foundations has owned the TL26, a few other manufacturers and dealers have made their best sales pitch to Jackson to trade in his TL26 for another brand. The most recent came when he worked for a dealer to pour concrete for an airplane hangar. “The sales person leaned on me hard to work out a trade,” says Jackson. “The TL26 had a lot of life in it and I just couldn’t do it.”
After 15 years with the machine, Jackson met with a Takeuchi sales person about a trade-in, but Takeuchi suggested waiting a couple years. His TL26 was running strong and with new emission regulations, manufacturers were still working out the kinks.
In 2018, Takeuchi introduced the TL6R, the most compact track loader in its lineup. The machine’s specifications were perfect for Jackson Foundations. However, there is a lot of careful consideration when purchasing a new machine, so Jackson wanted to run it for a few days. After all, he hasn’t tested out a modern track loader in years. His TL26 is a classic now, not even offered in the Takeuchi lineup.
“I didn’t think I would ever be able to replace my TL26 with its versatility and what it does for my company,” says Jackson. “We wanted to see what the TL6R was capable of. It was the perfect replacement to my TL26 and features several upgrades. Takeuchi did it again.”
Twenty years and 4,000 operating hours later, Jackson finds himself having difficulty letting go of the TL26. It’s the machine that has been by his side since his business took off. Jackson will look to create another 20 years of memories with his new TL6 at his service.