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Former Towner area resident retires and holds large auction

Mouse River Journal of Towner, North Dakota

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Editors Note: The following is an article that was printed in the August 29, 2012 edition of the Gillette News Record and is being reprinted with their permission. Story "It's a big sale Wyoming's largest single auction is set for Thursday" by Alexandra Sukhomlinova Cockar, News Record writer and photos by Steve Remich. Larry Suchor is formerly of the Towner area and grew up on a farm near Denbigh.

Larry Suchor doesn't need to see the signature "Larry's Mining Inc." on excavators and haul trucks to recognize his equipment.

After several years of running Larry's Mining, one of the most in-demand topsoil and overburden removal companies in Wyoming, he can see a detail and tell you what machine it came from.

"They are the prettiest. Can't you tell?"- he said jokingly as he drove between the rows of mining machinery lined up at a site on Highway 59.

"This one is mine," he said pointing at a loader. "How about this one?"

It was one of the last times he saw his haul trucks, loaders, excavators, buckets and engines. They will be his only until Thursday when they will be auctioned off by Ritchie Bros, in the largest single auction in Wyoming. More that 800 equipment items, including mining, construction and transportation equipment, will be sold.

About half of those items come from Larry's Mining, which Suchor is closing after deciding to retire.

He has been thinking about retiring for a while, and recent low coal prices helped make the decision. His two sons who live in Arizona (one is a helicopter instructor, the other one is a construction engineer) are happy with their jobs and had no plans to take over the business, Suchor said.

"I'm retiring because I'm retiring. You know when you wake up one morning and something says, 'You know, this isn't fun anymore.' Then what do you do? You change it," he said. "But it's always been fun. I've done it long enough."

Larry's Mining started as a plumbing and heating business and then it became a construction business. In 1994, he incorporated mining equipment into the business and mining soon became the major focus. He sold his the construction division of his business in 2004, also with Ritchie Bros.

Suchor's design of haul trucks, among other mining equipment that he designed, has revolutionized the way in which the topsoil and overburden are removed in the Powder River Basin.

The design was inspired by changes in the mining industry: As mines slowly moved further west and grew bigger, companies replaced truck and shovel operations with draglines which dug significantly larger pits to expose the coal seam. Consequently, haul trucks had to travel farther to transport the overburden from the mine site.

The trucks that Suchor designed haul more dirt and overburden than their predecessors and thus reduce fuel consumption, minimize emissions, control dust and decrease the amount of water that is used to suppress dust at the mine. Each excavator at each mine site moves about 10,000 cubic yards of material a day, but that can jump to 15,000 cubic yards of material a day.

Suchor's equipment operated in every mine in the basin, generally working four mine sites at any given time, and he is known for it all over the world.

Closure of Larry's Mining Inc. will create a void in the local market.

Will the local mines notice the difference should Suchor's equipment be all bought by companies that operate outside of the Powder River Basin?

"I don't know. It might make a difference. They will have to answer that," Suchor said.

Suchor, however, thinks.his machinery will go far beyond the Powder River Basin.

"They are a pretty rare item.

They are scarce. I am the major user of this in North America," he said.

The Powder River Basin mining industry will greatly miss Suchor's pleasant demeanor and "get it done" attitude, said Joe Vaccari, general manager of Cloud Peak Energy's Codero Rojo mine. He has known and worked with Suchor for more than 10 years.

Suchor's inventiveness went beyond mining machinery. Throughout his 45-year career he worked on any kind of work that is out there, he said, including bridges, lagoons, pipelines and dams. Many of his designs and ideas from an excavator bucket to design of an understructure of a canal could be patented, but he has always been more interested in the process of invention and design than in pursuing patents.

"When I look at the work, I think, 'How can I make it more productive, or efficient?'" he said. '"I'm the innovator, I guess, to say the least. What I like to do is take a challenge and make it more efficient and more productive."

He's not sure what he will do now that he almost doesn't have to run his business. He said he will wake up one day and decide.

But for now, he plans to continue going to fishing tournaments in Mexico, continue serving on the Pine Haven Town Council, where he has been living for the past several years. Maybe he'll work on a new subdivision in Gillette, where he built the Sleepy Hollow subdivision a few years ago (he said the name was inspired by a book he was reading at the time).

His mornings will be different without Larry's Mining, but it seems that it's only a matter of time before Suchor takes on a new project. He already has some original ideas, he said.

"If I want to do it or get serious about it, I think there are plenty of things a person can do. Maybe get some new avenue or do some other things," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. But right now the plan is to stay here."



Copyright 2012 Mouse River Journal, Towner, North Dakota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: October 10, 2012



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