October 15, 2020


Over the last two weeks, the Railroad Solutions team and Spokane Service have worked together to accomplish a first for Western States: upfitting a 325 hi-rail excavator.

The upfit, which will enable the excavator to operate on railroad tracks, had previously been done on other machines by an external vendor. Railroad Lead Technician Jason Bowen explained that by taking on the project in-house, the team could make sure that the work was up to the world class expectations our customers are accustomed to.

“By keeping the upfit in-house, we’re saving money on the project but we’re also making sure that we’ve got the best technicians working on the machine, which gives us a much better sense of quality control,” he said.

Tyler Weilep, Spokane Service Manager, agreed that completing the upfit in-house is a big step for Railroad.

“This particular project is the progression of what was started several years ago,” he said, referencing Railroad Solution’s recognition as an official division of Western States in 2016, “This is another step in the direction of turning our Railroad division into everything it can be.

“The Railroad team has done a great job growing the business,” said Vice President Rental Buddy Braach, “We’ve gone from one Hi-Rail machine a few years ago to nearly $20 million in our Rental fleet dedicated to the railroad industry today.”

The hi-rail excavator will go out to client jobsites as a rental machine. Moving forward, Tyler said he’s confident that future upfit jobs will be done completely in-house.

“We’ve worked as a team to perform well and keep costs down for Railroad,” he said, “For an internal customer like Railroad Solutions, we want to keep everything as in-house as possible.”

Both Jason and Tyler said the project has been a new challenge for the team, but nothing they couldn’t handle.

“We’ve been able to build the confidence of the 10 techs working on this machine,” Jason said, “especially since it’s never been done before at Western States, I think the technicians have really taken pride in this project.”

Railroad Specialist, Rental and Sales Merv Lewis added, “Behind everything we do is a customer with very high expectations. The end product of this upfit embodies the durability of the CAT brand and the talented people in our organization that work diligently, and with an open mind, to get projects like these done. We need to celebrate and congratulate our people who share the railroad vision and propel us forward.”

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