Personal Passions Inspire Budding Conservation Business

Published on March 16, 2022

For one Iowa contractor, his passion was strong enough to motivate him and his wife to start a business largely focused on timber and prairie preservation. And even though K&D Land Improvement provides a broad range of services, it is the conservation-focused work that co-founder Dan Hansen enjoys most.

A love for the land can be powerful.   

For one Iowa contractor, his passion was strong enough to motivate him and his wife to start a business largely focused on timber and prairie preservation. And even though K&D Land Improvement provides a broad range of services, it is the conservation-focused work that co-founder Dan Hansen enjoys most.  

“I literally grew up in the woods, not far from here,” Dan says, working on a timber improvement job in his hometown of Lehigh, Iowa, where the business is based. “Running Bobcat® equipment out here keeps me attached to the land … I know that sounds funny, but it’s true.”  

Dan Hansen (right), co-owner of K&D Land Improvement with wife Karen, has his son Zach Hansen (left) working alongside him on jobs.

Dan and his wife, Karen (the “K” in K&D Land Improvement), started the business in 2003. Karen is a conservationist for Webster County, Iowa, and as Dan puts it, when they were married 35 years ago, “She was big into the prairies, and I was big into timbers.” Early in their relationship, Dan held a management position with an area manufacturing company. He left that for a two-year job in waste collection before following what Dan and Karen shared an interest in and love for: working outdoors.    

Over the next 18 years, K&D’s services expanded to land preservation and restoration, including tree and brush clearing for private landowners and the Department of Natural Resources; field tile repair; implementing water and soil conservation practices, such as saturated buffers and bioreactors; septic tank installation; demolition; street sweeping and sewer work. Although they are committed to any project they take on, the conservation work strikes a different chord.   

“We’ve found a niche being versatile, and services like sewer work are a necessity,” Dan says, “but I’d much rather be working in the timber. It’s who I am.”  

“And now,” he adds, “my worst day doing this is like my best day working in a factory.”  

Extended family helps business grow 

K&D Land Improvement is a family operation through and through. Dan and Karen have three children — two daughters who aren’t with the business and son Zach, who has been completing jobs with his dad full-time since graduating college 18 months ago. “It’s just my wife and me and our son … you don’t get much smaller than that,” he says. “But we have nice equipment that truly is our livelihood. It’s my business; it’s my desk.” 

I wouldn’t still be in this business if it weren’t for Bobcat. They have gone above and beyond to help me out and keep us going …

-Dan Hansen

Owner, K&D Land Improvement

Dan credits Bobcat® equipment and his dealer with their success. To him, they are more than an equipment provider — they are an extension of the business. “Everyone there is like family to me,” he says. “That’s not a stretch.”  

Dan started out using a competitor’s skid-steer loader before developing a relationship with Capital City Equipment Co. He rented, then leased, and eventually purchased a Bobcat 773 skid-steer loader. Now, they have a Bobcat T770 compact track loader, which is their 10th Bobcat loader, as well as an E63 compact excavator and MT50 mini track loader. While the equipment itself may be his livelihood, dealer service definitely seals the deal for Dan.  

“I wouldn’t still be in this business if it weren’t for Bobcat,” he says. “My dealers have gone above and beyond to help me out and keep us going … I can call them all fired up about something silly; they are calm, they help me think through it, and they make things work for me.”  

Toughness not taken for granted 

K&D’s services run the gamut of what Bobcat machines and their attachments can support, resulting in a whopping 20 Bobcat attachments for their three machines. Dan and his son, Zach, believe their root grapples are the most versatile attachments because they can be used for so many types of work. In timber restoration and land clearing, their Bobcat forestry cutter and applications kit for the T770 compact track loader is extremely efficient. And, Dan calls the package a key example of Bobcat toughness and innovation.   

“The forestry cutter is perfect for this type of work,” he says. “Safety- and protection-wise, you get the cab with the special door and windows, and different guards … This is a really tough attachment doing work that can be brutal on a machine.”  

Specific to the T770 loader’s size and strength, he adds, “We cannot have a big, heavy footprint on most of our sites, and for this class of machine, Bobcat is definitely the toughest.”  

Dan’s enthusiasm doesn’t stop there. He calls Bobcat engineers and dealer salespeople “understanding,” when it comes to machine and attachment innovation, especially for his primary types of work. “They are continually updating and getting better,” he says, “but they ‘get’ my business and get what I need.”   

Another example of this, Dan says, is the roller suspension system Bobcat has been using on compact track loaders for more than a decade, which leads to a more comfortable ride while also providing greater durability.   

Dan realizes that getting the most out of any machine requires a commitment from its owner and operator. He is adamant about preventive maintenance on equipment. “Considering the investment and how important they are to the business, you’ve got to take good care of them,” he says.  

K&D Land Improvement’s Services Operator Using A Bobcat Compact Track Loader To Move Rubble

Preserving the future  

K&D Land Improvement has earned a strong reputation in the area without formally advertising. In fact, they have a lot of repeat business particularly related to timber improvement and restoration. One landowner near the Brushy Creek State Recreation area in Lehigh has been hiring Dan to help clear and maintain his land for 15 of K&D’s 18 years in business.   

In that case, the customer marks trees and brush to be removed; but as a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) commissioner, Dan can help select trees and brush to remove or keep based on state forester standards. Karen, as a county conservationist, can help as well.   

Dan is pleased with the fact many of his neighbors and customers care as much about the land as he and Karen do.  

“I’m not a political guy, but conservation is important,” Dan says. “We’ve got to pay attention to our natural resources, and protect and preserve what we have. We can all do this together, but everyone needs to do their thing.”  

More Recent Stories

View All Stories
Unique Real Estate Developer Welcomes Home Hard-Working Iowans Operator Standing Next To His T66 Compact Track Loader
Unique Real Estate Developer Welcomes Home Hard-Working Iowans
A new home every 15 days? Kading Properties is building up affordable communities and positively impacting the area's workforce.
Concrete Company Builds Solid Foundation by Putting People First Construction Worker Operating A Bobcat Compact Track Loader
Concrete Company Builds Solid Foundation by Putting People First
Rob’s booming business, which covers a 150-mile service territory in California, can’t afford downtime. So he depends on his fleet of Bobcat Loaders to handle every job.
Lifelong Farmer Finds New Gear in Semi-Retirement Brian Bjork Standing in front of his SSL S650 and S76
Lifelong Farmer Finds New Gear in Semi-Retirement
With the Bobcat MaxControl remote operation system, age doesn't mean you have to quit doing what you love. In an ever-changing world, even old dogs can learn new tricks.
Personal Passions Inspire Budding Conservation Business Dan Hansen (right), co-owner of K&D Land Improvement with wife Karen, has his son Zach Hansen (left) working alongside him on jobs.  
Personal Passions Inspire Budding Conservation Business
For one Iowa contractor, his passion was strong enough to motivate him and his wife to start a business largely focused on timber and prairie preservation. And even though K&D Land Improvement provides a broad range of services, it is the conservation-focused work that co-founder Dan Hansen enjoys most.
Bobcat 773 Skid-Steer Loader Helps Carmelite Nuns Restore Convent Nun Operating A Bobcat Skid-Steer Loader
Bobcat 773 Skid-Steer Loader Helps Carmelite Nuns Restore Convent
The Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Prague have called their monastery home for more than two centuries. When they decided to move from central Prague to a new village east of the city, they were met with a few challenges.
Mississippi Family Man Unearths Resilient Comeback with the Help of a Bobcat Compact Excavator Ronny has big plans for the future, including growing a tree farm that he can pass on to his kids.
Mississippi Family Man Unearths Resilient Comeback with the Help of a Bobcat Compact Excavator
Ronny Delaughter was given two years to live after being diagnosed with liver failure and receiving a double knee replacement. But, with a little digging, he has found his motivation (and it’s much bigger than you think).
Tree Removal Company’s Innovative Approach Takes Productivity to New Heights Zeigler Tree’s Bobcat T740 compact track loaders operate practically non-stop, as much as 1,000 hours within their first three months.
Tree Removal Company’s Innovative Approach Takes Productivity to New Heights
Zeigler Tree’s combination of human talent and Bobcat® machinery provides the necessary tools to effectively meet the demands of almost any surgical tree removal job.
Former Aerospace Pro Finds Solid Ground in Excavation A Bobcat T870 compact track loader is used on a jobsite by MH ServicesMH_Services_Photo_2
Former Aerospace Pro Finds Solid Ground in Excavation
Dwight Messick left his career as an aerospace engineer to pursue a career in excavation, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Hard Work and Reliability Help Build Tree Service from the Ground Up Jake from Jake's Tree Service operates a Bobcat L28 small articulated loader for his tree removal business
Hard Work and Reliability Help Build Tree Service from the Ground Up
What started as a part-time lawn service job in high school for Jake Chmielowski has grown to a $6-million-a-year full-service tree care and landscaping business: Jake’s Tree Service.
Houston-Based Sweetwater Farms HTX Combines Agriculture with Education A Bobcat CT2025 compact tractor sits on the property of Sweetwater Farms HTX
Houston-Based Sweetwater Farms HTX Combines Agriculture with Education
With the help of volunteers, friends, and a brand-new Bobcat® compact tractor, Chaz Daughtry is taking the Houston agriculture scene by storm.