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Keeping the Wildcats Campus Beautiful

Northern Michigan University (NMU), home of the Wildcats, is located in Marquette, the largest city in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) with a population of 20,714. The city is located on the south shore of Lake Superior, combining a dramatic natural wonderland of shoreline, forest, and hills with a vibrant cultural community, progressive education, business and healthcare.

The four-year public university was established in 1899 and with an enrollment of about 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students, NMU is the UP’s largest institution of higher education and one of its top five employers, with approximately 1,000 employees.

NMU’s campus is made up of more than 50 facilities. It is located just minutes from the shore of Lake Superior and downtown Marquette, creating a favorable pedestrian experience for students.

One of the greatest attractions of NMU’s campus is the Superior Dome – the largest wooden dome in the world. The dome stands 14 stories high and encompasses 5.1 acres under its roof. Constructed of 781 Douglas Fir beams and 108.5 miles of fir decking, the dome has a permanent seating capacity of 8,000, although the building can hold as many as 16,000 people.

NMU owes the credit for part of the beauty of its campus to its buildings and grounds personnel, led by 40-year-veteran, Terry Eilders. Terry and operators, Jim Robare, George Madosh, Veikko Heikkinen, Jeff Skoog, Brian Schmeltzer, Dave Raudio, Harvey Scherer and mechanics/operators, Dean Schmeltzer and Andy Buckmaster, are responsible for general upkeep around the campus, dirt and topsoil moving, as well as plant installation and utility work. In the winter, snow removal becomes a large part of their duties with an average of 140 inches per year.

Terry started in the Maintenance Department in 1973 with one wheel loader, a John Deere 644 with backhoe attachment. As the campus has grown, so has the fleet which now includes five wheel loaders and a backhoe along with many smaller pieces of support equipment. Deere represents 70 percent of the university’s fleet.

When asked what they like most about John Deere equipment, the 444K Powerall Lift was mentioned. They like the operator-friendly cab and the sealed switch module’s push buttons versus toggle switches. They also mentioned how quiet the cab is along with its smooth ride and visibility – not to mention reliability, serviceability, and uptime. Add to that Nortrax’s service, helpful parts department, local technician, and parts interchangeability and availability and the department feels they have the complete package.

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