The tools of various trades are usually best left to their respective professionals.  I am not a paramedic, so I’ve no use for a defibrillator. I am not a cowboy, so I don’t need a cow.  I’m not a mechanical engineer, so it’s just as well that I can’t do math. There is an exception to this rule, however.  Although I have no practical use for them, I dearly want to control enormous machines that are capable of turning an SUV into a waffle.  This is because doing so would be incredibly fun.

Randy Stenger and his son drove past a construction site one day.  When his son observed the dangling cranes, articulated excavators, and burly bulldozers, he asked Randy whether he thought that using them would be much fun.  Randy did think that using them would be very much fun, so he advanced to the logical conclusion that he ought to quit his job and open a business that lets people roll over and smash things with the aid of several dozens of tons of heavy machinery.  Extreme Sandbox was thus born from a car ride.

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Randy opened the first Extreme Sandbox in Hastings in April, 2012.  The ten acre site initially offered excavators, bulldozers, and wheel loaders for visitors to do as they pleased with, namely digging, smashing, and flattening.  The idea took off immediately, and Randy would soon add a fire truck and other weapons of construction to his arsenal.

“It’s the ultimate playground,” said Randy.  “Everyone loves it. My very first customer told me that her face hurt from smiling so much after playing with the machines, and that’s been the unanimous opinion ever since.  Extreme Sandbox has become hugely popular for corporate team building exercises, family reunions, fraternity outings, even bachelorette parties. The other day we had a 90 year old lady come in, eager to scratch ‘operating an excavator’ off of her bucket list.  It’s hard not to love this sort of thing if you’ve got a pulse.”

Randy has since opened another Extreme Sandbox outside of Dallas, and just last year scaled down his concept so it would fit in Rosedale Center.  Extreme Sandbox Mini sports two mini excavators, just the things to play around with or challenge your friend to a test of mechanical dexterity on.  Extreme Sandbox Mini also has the first heavy machinery training simulators available to the American public, ever. These six simulators utilize giant monitors and realistic controls to give users a perfect sense of what it’s like to operate a tower crane, excavator, and other behemoths.

I tried some of these simulators for myself.  All I managed to accomplish in the tower crane was to ruin some poor truck’s paint job from very high up.  Its seat moves, and experiencing what a strong gust of wind would do to a tower crane operator made my heart dance the tarantella.  I then determined that you can not, despite any amount of effort, run over the construction workers in the excavator simulator. This is a far cry from what Grand Theft Auto offers, but then again these are not video games — they are the actual training tools for machines that rack up a hefty bill should they run amok.

If you would like to experience diesel-fueled omnipotence first-hand, visit for more information.


By David Scheller