Native Plains Punisher Dozer“We’re not your average crew that’s just focused on moving dirt and moving on,” says Andy Andrews, president of mining operations for the Tulsa-based company. “We have experience actually operating mines, and we train our operators to understand the entire plant. Our goal is to help our customers maximize their production.”

Given that approach, it’s no surprise Native Plains’ equipment — some of it, anyway — looks a little different, too.

Meet “Jalapeno” and “The Punisher”

Pull up Andrews’ LinkedIn page and you’re instantly greeted with a photo of a rather unusual Cat® D8T. Painted green and white, with a 3D camo wrap, this dozer is known to the Native Plains team as “Jalapeno.”

Scroll down Andrews’ feed a bit and you soon come across photos of “The Punisher” — another D8T, this one painted entirely black.

Why stray from the traditional yellow paint scheme?

“It’s about branding,” Andrews says. “I don’t want us to be like everyone else rolling out with yellow iron. Our customers love these dozers, and whenever we hire a new dozer operator, they’re like, ‘Wow!’ When I posted pictures of the black one on LinkedIn, I got 180,000 hits.”

Native Plains Contracting at work

Marketing makes a difference

Branding and marketing matter to Andrews because Native Plains is relatively new to the contract mining business.

When the company got its start in 2016, commercial civil work in the Tulsa metro area was the focus. But Native Plains’ founders soon realized how challenging it was to stand out in that crowded construction market. In pursuit of a new strategy, they reached out to Andrews, a past customer and lifelong mine industry worker.

“I had actually hired Native Plains for a plant I was working at in western Oklahoma,” he says. “They got a taste of mining and really enjoyed the work. In 2021, they brought me in to expand the business into the mining industry.”

Native Plains Dirt WorkExpand they have. Today, mining contract work is Native Plains’ primary business, and the company has grown to more than 150 employees with a fleet of 100-plus machines, serving mines in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Texas in addition to Oklahoma.

“You can’t go wrong with a Cat dozer”

Native Plains works mostly with aggregate and frack sand operations, stripping overburden, removing trees and topsoil, and stockpiling material so customers can blast and shoot the rock, then haul it to the crusher.

It’s tough work that’s hard on equipment, particularly the dozers charged with pushing and ripping material. That means Jalapeno and The Punisher — along with the six other Cat dozers in Native Plains’ fleet — aren’t there just for show.

“When we talk about reliability, we understand what that means. We know what sand can do to dozers running 24/7,” Andrews says. “If they go down, it’s detrimental to our operation, because uptime is how we make our money. We’ve tried other stuff but you can’t go wrong with a Cat dozer.”

Andrews speaks from experience. When Native Plains first got into the mining business, the company purchased another brand of dozers.

“We put 3,000 hours on them and they were broke most of the time,” Andrews says. “So we sold them back, took the money and got what we wanted instead.”

Cat Certified Rebuild Power Train

Rebuilt and ready to rip

What Native Plains wanted was Cat dozers. Both Andrews and Noah Murray, the company’s director of maintenance, have spent their careers in the mining industry running Cat equipment and describe themselves as “diehard Cat guys.”

“We know the mechanics of it, the operation of it, the dealer network,” Murray says. “Caterpillar has been a big part of our lives and our working careers.”

Still, they weren’t sure they could justify the expense of buying new. So Jalapeno, the company’s first Cat dozer purchase, was a zero-hour rebuilt machine.

It performed so well Andrews and Murray decided to go the same route with The Punisher.

“Newer dozers may be pushing a bit more power and the operator features may have changed, but we’ve been really impressed with these rebuilt machines,” Andrews says. “They definitely have the power we need, and we got that first one for half the cost of new.”

Many Projects Are Completed by Native Plains

Small fleet, big commitment

As Native Plains continues to expand its mining business across the Midwest, Andrews and Murray plan to keep relying on rebuilt Cat dozers for the work — and on Foley Equipment for support.

“We’re doing work in Kansas and Missouri now, but we don’t have a lot of service infrastructure in place there yet,” Murray says. “Foley understands our limitations and has been great about helping us get repairs done fast. I’ve sent a couple machines to the shop, and what I thought would be a two-week turnaround got done in a week.” Given that just eight of Native Plains’ 100-plus machines bear the Cat logo, Andrews appreciates that kind of responsiveness.

“Foley gives us 100% even though we only have a small percentage of equipment that’s Cat,” he says. “They treat us like we’re #1.”

Murray agrees.

“Dealer relationships are critical to our business,” he says. “We’ll continue to turn to Foley for support even after we have our own service infrastructure in place. They’ve already helped us be successful in a new territory.”