Meet Joe and Sharon Kapitany

Occupation: Joe is retired from military and law enforcement and Sharon works for the Veterans Administration. Property: 150 acres near Simpson, Ill., most of it wooded Equipment: Kioti NX6010 and rotary tiller; Bobcat E42 mini excavator; Bush Hog mower; Stihl chainsaws and pole saw; Rhino back blade, Intimidator utility vehicles (gas and electric); Kawasaki ATV; W.R. Long 4N1 hydraulic loader bucket; Quality Welding Service tree spade; Taylor Pittsburgh Field General seeder/spreader; PJ trailer; as well as older discs and harrows. Priorities: Equipment that is compact, but powerful as well as versatile attachments to handle land management projects.

Joe and Sharon Kapitany have bought and sold 7 different farms in 4 states over the last 9 years in pursuit of the perfect retirement property — and they have finally found it. In January 2016, they bought 150 acres near Simpson, Ill., and are now building a home and tackling numerous land management projects.

“I learned to create value in land. On other properties we owned, I tried to build roads and food plots and do as much with my equipment as possible and increase the value of our investments,” says Joe Kapitany.

He completed some of the projects with his own equipment and for others, he hired contractors. Kapitany does extensive equipment research online and he asks lots of questions of the dealers he works with.

His philosophy of adding value carries over to equipment ownership. “When I buy equipment, I make the equipment pay for itself through the projects I do,” Kapitany says. He owns a complete lineup including a Kioti NX6010 and rotary tiller; Bobcat E42 mini excavator; Bush Hog mower; Stihl chainsaws and pole saw; Rhino back blade; Intimidator utility vehicles (gas and electric); Kawasaki ATV; W.R. Long 4N1 hydraulic loader bucket; Quality Welding Service tree spade; Taylor Pittsburgh Field General seeder/spreader; PJ trailer; as well as older discs and harrows.

Taking on Projects

The couple has demanding careers — Joe recently retired after serving in the military and law enforcement while Sharon was an emergency room nurse and now works for the Veterans Administration — so a quiet, remote location was a priority. Their property includes 150 acres, 30 of which are rented for crop production. “It’s extremely diverse. It has hardwood ridges, creeks, cedar thickets, pines, rock outcroppings and a large natural pond in the center of the property. We’re living the dream of land ownership and conservation,” Kapitany says.

Dealer Takeaways

• Understand land management and conservation tasks to recommend the best equipment.

• Be ready to answer customer questions, for as long as they want to ask them.

• Help customers understand the benefits of owning equipment vs. always hiring contractors.

• Show off the latest equipment in your rental fleet. This gives your customers the best impression of your dealership.

So far, he has built 11 food plots, each averaging about 1/3 of an acre, dug 8 watering holes for wildlife and created driving lanes for his equipment. He’s worked with contractors to build his mile-long driveway and to repair the leaking pond. “Food plots are not just about killing deer. It’s about total wildlife management. The food plots keep wildlife like deer, rabbits, turkey, raccoons and squirrels close for wildlife viewing,” he says.

Finding the Right Tractor

Kapitany takes on big projects, but prefers compact equipment to complete his projects. “Everything I do is in tight quarters. I need a powerful, well-rounded compact-size tractor to do full-size tractor projects,” he says.

He owned a John Deere 3520 and upgraded to a 4720 when they lived in Wisconsin — five properties ago. “I had bought the John Deere thinking I could run any attachment with them. The controls are lever actuated, which is great if you’re using farm implements, but you need a continuous flow of hydraulics when you’re running a tree spade or log splitter. For that, I had to buy a Power Beyond kit,” he says.

Think ‘Mini’ for Big Jobs

Kyle Barton, salesperson with Bobcat of Marion, says there has been increased demand for mini excavators over the last 10 years as the technology has improved. Landscapers and light construction contractors like the equipment’s power and versatility and its minimal impact on property. Bobcat’s mini excavator, the E42, weighs under 10,000 pounds, compared with 30,000 or 50,000 pounds for full-size excavators. It can also be pulled with just a pickup and trailer.

Other segments, such as production farmers and even rural lifestylers like Joe Kapitany of Simpson, Ill., are purchasing the machines. Kapitany uses his mini excavator for many land management tasks, such as removing trees and stumps and digging watering holes for wildlife. Popular options are hydraulic clamp attachments and a secondary hydraulic X-Change System, both of which Kapitany purchased, along with an extended warranty.

Barton says one of the biggest obstacles he has to overcome when selling is convincing customers that a compact machine can do large jobs. He often lets customers try out machines on their own properties — and that helped him earn Kapitany’s business. “For new customers there is often a learning curve regarding operating an excavator in terms of learning the sensitivity of the sticks. Joe went out in the middle of a 50-acre field and just started digging,” Barton says.

Renting equipment is another lead-in to sales. Barton offers this advice regarding running a successful rental department.

“You have to keep your rental fleet up to date. There’s a misconception that you set up a rental store and keep the machines for 10 years. You end up ‘nickel-and-diming’ yourself to death with repairs,” Barton says. Plus, it doesn’t represent your dealership or your brand well by renting a machine not in top condition.

“We keep equipment in our rental fleet for 2 years maximum. I’m also able to sell out of our rental fleet, so customers have an option for a newer machine at a lower price,” Barton says.

To take on the tasks of his current Illinois property, he searched for a tractor that provided the right compact size combined with power and ease of use. “I spec’d out a lot of brands, models and options. I test drove some and was impressed with the options Kioti offered for the price. I started digging into the parent company, Daedong, and learned they made earth moving equipment. I chose the Kioti tractor because it had the most value for my specific needs,” Kapitany says.


Joe Kapitany has many maintenance tasks, so he says it’s worth it to purchase equipment rather than hire contractors. He uses his Kioti NX6010 for many of the projects, along with attachments like this Quality Welding Service tree spade.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Kapitany

He purchased his Kioti NX6010 from Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s 2008 Dealership of the Year, Little Tractor & Equipment, which has locations in Metropolis and Harrisburg, Ill. The dealership carries Bad Boy and Grasshopper as well as Kioti. He worked with James Little, who recently sold the dealership. “James was attentive to my needs and I asked a million questions. I probably tend to dig much deeper than other customers when looking for equipment. He answered my emails, texts and phone calls — and answered them promptly — and I liked his personality,” Kapitany says.

“I make the equipment pay for itself through the projects I do…” — Joe Kapitany

The sales process took close to 3 months and Kapitany customized his tractor with additional front and rear work lights; additional rear hydraulics; liquid-filled tires for added weight and stability; rear SCVs; and a 4N1 bucket.

Adding a Mini Excavator

Early in his retirement, Kapitany worked part-time for a friend who owned an excavator. “I tagged along with him and learned a ton of stuff. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and just learned from getting my hands dirty,” he says.

Answering Questions vs. Selling

Clay Harper, general manager of Little Tractor, works with rural lifestyler Joe Kapitany of Simpson, Ill., supporting him after his initial purchase of his Kioti NX6010 tractor. Harper says Kapitany does extensive research and asks a lot of questions — and that’s a good thing. “Most of our customers are like that. They know what they want to do with a tractor, but they might not know how to do it,” Harper says. Little Tractor has locations in Metropolis and Harrisburg, Ill., and carries Kioti, Bad Boy and Grasshopper.

Customers try to compare models from competitors, which can be difficult if the specifications don’t match. Harper says he explains specifications and starts off the conversation assuming they know very little about equipment. Harper also focuses on what it feels like to operate the machine and promotes their large inventory.

“We don’t want people to come in and just look at a brochure. We want them to sit in the tractor and drive it. And, if they want their tractor today, I want them to have their tractor today,” Harper says.

He hired an excavating company to fix the leak in his pond and to build the road into his property and started weighing options of owning his own excavator. “For the pond, I paid the excavating company about $400 for 2 hours of work and another $150 an hour to a bull dozer contractor. I was constantly watching them and picking their brains on why they did this or that. I thought it would be fun to own my own and, with a property like this, you are only limited by imagination and money,” Kapitany says.

He figures that in the long run it will be less expensive to do his own excavating work, rather than to continue hiring contractors. For instance, he has an ongoing job of managing the ditches on his mile-long entry road.

Documenting Land Management Projects

YouTube may have millions of videos, but it didn’t have what Joe Kapitany needed when he started undertaking land management projects.

“When I started researching on YouTube about 7 years ago, I really couldn’t find any good tractor videos. That’s the reason I started creating my own. I started documenting my recreational lifestyle with how-to videos about building a food plot and digging a watering hole as well as advanced land management techniques. The whole effort started rolling into my own YouTube channel and it’s now growing rapidly,” Kapitany says.

Kapitany now has more than 450 videos and more than 2 million views on his channel, Kapper Outdoors, as well as more than 4,000 subscribers. Check out three of his recent videos, along with the interesting comments from viewers:

• bit.ly/Bobcatexcavator

• bit.ly/buildingfoodplot

• bit.ly/tractormontage


Kapitany worked with Bobcat of Marion, which is part of the 8-store Bobcat of St. Louis network. The dealership also carries Danuser, Husqvarna and other lines. The salesperson, Kyle Barton, took an extra step to win his business by offering him a mini excavator on loan until his special order Bobcat E42 mini excavator was delivered. His model is the long-arm version, which is 1 foot longer than the standard arm. “I hadn’t even gotten my excavator when I had already done about $6,000 worth of work with the loaner. Kyle was very thorough and answered all of my questions. He went over the top with letting me use a machine,” Kapitany says.

He customized the E42 with 24-inch and 36-inch trenching buckets; 52-inch ditch bucket; hydraulic clamp attachment; secondary hydraulic X-Change System; and a cab with heat, air conditioning and radio.

Expanding the Lineup

Late last year, Kapitany purchased two Intimidator utility vehicles from Trover Equipment of Vienna, Ill. “I’m not brand loyal. I did lots of research and ended up with Intimidator because it’s a solid machine. I spec’d it out for the size and suspension system because I push my machinery to the limits. Intimidator had the biggest and heaviest duty UTV that I could find,” he says. He purchased an electric model first and liked it so much that he later purchased the Sport 800 model gas version. His electric model has a windshield, luggage rack, dump box and winch. The gas model has front and rear windshields, heater, luggage rack, winch and radio.

Kapitany has worked with dealers outside his area as well. He was researching a rotary cutter and found a 6-foot Bush Hog BX26 from a dealer in Arkansas. “It was heavy duty and the best deal I could find for a 6-foot model,” he says. The dealer was making a trip to Chicago and delivered the rotary cutter on the way.

Working with Dealers

Kapitany knows how to perform routine maintenance, but prefers to work with his dealers for maintenance and repairs. “I’ve done oil changes and hydraulic fluid changes, but it’s not worth it to me. I usually rely on my dealers. Speed is the number one factor for me when it comes to maintenance and repairs. I use my equipment as often as I can. Life is short and I can’t wait long for my equipment to be returned. I usually develop a good rapport with my dealers and usually they are attentive when I need service,” he says.


Joe Kapitany recently purchased a Bobcat E42 mini excavator to tackle some of his larger land management tasks. Here, he is removing a 3,200 pound tree stump. He’ll use the excavator for driveway ditch maintenance and other tasks.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Kapitany

Prompt service is one of the reasons Kapitany buys from a dealer. “I’m going to be lower on a priority list if I don’t buy from the dealer. If they have 10 machines in for service and if I’m a brand new customer, hopefully, I can get my machine in for repair sooner,” he says.

Next on his list for equipment is a planter for his tractor, a heavy duty brush mower attachment for his excavator and a dump trailer.

“I’ve done things with my equipment that few people have. Don’t ever tell me that something can never be done. My property is always a work in progress, but it’s getting close to where I want it to be,” Kapitany says.


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