Gotta Love the Smell of Gear Oil

Under 40

Under 40

"Gotta love the smell of gear oil." That’s my favorite phrase from the two videos linked below, shot by inaugural Under 40 in Construction Equipment Awards class member Chris Guins of Guins Excavation Service in Zebulon, N.C.

Though a lot of what you find on YouTube these days is promotional and self-indulgent (or worse), what Guins has done in a few short minutes with a small GoPro camera is worth watching for its earnest simplicity—illustrating a problem you might encounter on the job site—and its solution.

In the first piece below, we see a clever demo that reveals Guins’ Volvo 210 excavator has a gear problem inside the track motor for one of the tracks, right in the middle of a site-clearing project the day before a holiday weekend. (We all know that downtime is a cruel and vengeful god.) In the last shot, he previews the area he’ll have to open up for the fix.

For the second video here, Guins gives viewers a close-up of the exact cause, a worn gear, and we learn how he’s going to fix it, as well as the cost and expectations for the replacement part. Both videos are short and to the point, perfect for today's attention spans.

Granted, the videos aren’t “Citizen Kane,” but they’re effective. These are but two of some 1,450 posts on his YouTube channel, letsdig18. His videos have been viewed over 47 million times and he’s got a subscriber base of nearly 22,000 and growing. And none of the videos are “NSFW” or include Kate Upton.

Beyond his one-man-army Robert Rodriguez-like approach to filmmaking (shot, chopped, and scored by Chris Guins!), his resume is impressive. He’s an ace operator who’s been featured in Volvo customer videos, competed on Discovery’s short-lived “Machines of Glory,” and been a finalist in operating competitions at Conexpo and ICUEE.

Yet he’s only 26. Guins started to go Scorsese about seven years ago, almost by accident.

“I bought my first camera and didn’t realize it took a video, so I took the first video from it, put it on YouTube, and pretty much forgot about it,” he says. “I came back maybe six months later and saw a couple of comments on it, so I thought that was pretty cool and posted a few more of them. Everybody seemed to start liking them.”

In addition to picking up a load of social media fans, Guins has gained valuable networking skills and taught a few lessons of his own along the way.

“I’ve met a lot of very cool people because of YouTube, and made some best friends from around here who do the same kind of work that I do,” he says. “Without YouTube I probably would have never met them. And, I get a lot of comments where people say they never really knew to do something a certain way, so you can definitely learn a lot of stuff through video. I try to do things that you can learn from, and maybe show how it’s done.”

But Guins has no real desire to teach in the future. “I’d rather work,” he says emphatically.

The beauty of his YouTube channel is that we can watch him do both. And it's exactly why Guins is an example of how the Under 40 in Construction Equipment class leads.

So consider documenting something you do. Keep it simple: Go from problem to solution. Put it out on social media, and perhaps shape someone’s future.

You never know how many people you could help or who you could meet as a result.