Sometimes when I tell people I am from Cleveland, people (who I might add have probably never been here) like to tease me. I am usually a good sport about it, although I love my city (including its sports teams). Occasionally when the heckling gets a little out of hand, I will respond in kind, “At least I’m not from not Detroit.”
But when I actually think about the problems my neighboring Rust-Belt city is dealing with, it is no laughing matter.
Detroit is facing serious challenges, and it is no wonder. What do you expect when a city’s population goes from 1.8 million people in 1950 to a population of 713,777, according the 2010 census? Losing one million-plus residents in only 60 years makes it pretty clear why there are so many abandoned buildings and houses rotting away within the city limits.
If there is any city in need of demolition, it is Detroit. Blighted properties, which number in the tens of thousands, not only pose safety threats from a structural standpoint but also from the criminal activities that go on inside them.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who announced he was stepping down at the end of his term in December, had reportedly promised at the beginning of his four-year term to demolish 10,000 buildings while in office. According to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press (DFP), 4,200 have been demolished so far under Bing’s watch, with many more slated for demolition by the end of the year. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. A staggering 26,000 more have been identified as unsafe but no funding currently exists to tear them down, according to the DFP article.
With a shrunken tax base in which to generate revenue, the city is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Liabilities are estimated at around $17 billion, or $25,000 per resident. Detroit’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and his chief advisors laid out a plan in June to invest $1.25 billion in services, including $500 million allocated towards eliminating blighted properties. But the clock is ticking.
In his recent blog, “The Slow-Motion Financial Implosion of Detroit” which appeared on www.wallstreetpit.com, Anthony Alfidi of San Francisco-based Alfidi Capital referenced a plan the city of Detroit introduced three years ago which called for downsizing its infrastructure. “The city has since squandered the time and money it could have committed to that plan and is now facing imminent bankruptcy,” Alfidi writes. “This disaster was a long time in the making.”
Only time will tell whether Orr’s new plan will even have a chance to succeed. “Detroit’s detailed plan for renewal is probably going to come undone out of necessity if receivership forces it to move faster,” Alfidi says in his blog. “Farms and ranches will sprout again within city limits and former unionized workers had better learn how to plant rows of corn.”
I hope the future is not as bleak for Detroit as Alfidi paints it, but it will certainly require help from state and federal sources if there is any hope for recovery. Continuing to demolish old buildings will inevitably help Detroit’s overall wellbeing.C&DR
Columbus Road Lift Bridge
Built in 1940, the Columbus Road Lift Bridge, which runs over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, was rated in poor or serious condition, requiring extensive renovation. County officials had spent more than a year studying whether to repair or replace it.
Thus, in 2011, work began on replacing the bridge outright. The plan included removing the existing span, placing it on a barge that will be moved, and moving the new span into place via another barge along the river. Additionally, two lift towers will be updated along with attached roadways.
The city of Cleveland contributed $3.7 million to the project, which was matched by Cuyahoga County. These investments leveraged more than $29 million in federal dollars for the project, making it a strong example of inter-governmental cooperation.
The bridge was Cleveland’s first permanent bridge, and great effort is being taken to preserve the bridge’s historical character during the redesign.
Oregon’s State Bridge Delivery Program
In 2003 the Oregon Legislature placed an increased priority on the state’s bridge program with the Oregon Transportation Investment Act. At the time, the state estimated that deteriorating bridges could cost Oregon’s economy $123 billion in lost production and 88,000 lost jobs over the next 25 years.
The legislation included the State Bridge Delivery Program, a ten-year, $1.3 billion program that set out to repair and replace hundreds of bridges across the state, thereby ensuring the unrestricted movement of freight and spurring economic growth.
The program employed the context sensitive and sustainable solutions philosophy throughout the process, incorporating activities that foster workforce growth and development; reflect the community’s interests; maintain mobility and safety; ensure sound stewardship of the natural environment; and promote cost-effective decision making. The program is on track to be completed in 2013.
Although the U.S. economy has been far from booming the past three years, many of the na- tion’s largest concrete and asphalt recyclers are slowly returning to prerecession levels of activ- ity. This in part can be considered testimony on the extent to which concrete and asphalt recycling has become standard practice in the demolition, construction and road building sectors.
After construction sector activity slammed on the brakes in 2008 and 2009, many crusher operators reported declining production figures for the 2009 or 2011 versions of Construction & Demolition Recycling’s (C&DR’s) list of the 20 Largest Recycled Aggregates Producers.
Companies who reported their 2012 figures for the 2013 version of the list have largely reported gains in tonnage volumes, with a few others holding steady.
The figures seem to indicate that while an impressive spike in construction and concrete recycling activity has yet to take place since the economic downturn, the incremental growth has at least made minor contributions toward better business conditions.
Avoiding The Worst
The downward construction industry spiral caused severe hardship for contractors and subcontractors throughout the building industry.
When the Obama Administration and Congress crafted the American Restoration and Recovery Act (ARRA) in 2009, one of the goals was to put federal dollars into “shovel-ready” construction projects, including highway and bridge paving and repair work.
The ARRA was panned by some critics for spreading dollars into line items far removed from such projects, but the fraction of funding that went into highway and bridge work helped spur crushing activity in some regions.
By the time concrete and asphalt recycling companies reported their 2010 tonnage figures to C&DR magazine for its 2011 list, some reported figures that were lower than those they gave for 2008 and 2006 while others found opportunities that resulted in company growth.
In 2012, U.S. Census Bureau construction activity information gathered by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), pointed to an ongoing slow rebound in construction activity.
Construction spending in December 2012 increased for the ninth month in a row, according to a February 2013 AGC news release, which also indicated that construction sector employment was rebounding.
Construction put in place totaled $885 billion in December 2012, the most since September 2009 and an increase of 7.8 percent compared with December 2011. The growth is spread among several major construction sectors, with both residential and nonresidential construction gaining momentum for the month and year. Growth in the residential sector may be particularly encouraging after a long period of dormancy.
Private residential construction spending jumped 24 percent year-over-year from December 2011 to December 2012. Private nonresidential spending grew 7.6 percent during that same timeframe.
Unfortunately, as state and local governments struggle to balance budgets, spending in that sector has dried up. Public construction spending fell 17 percent in December 2012 compared to 12 months earlier.
The private sector’s willingness to spend, however, more than offset the bad news from the government side of the ledger. “The new employment data show the industry has added almost 300,000 jobs in the past two years, including nearly 100,000 since September ,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist, in early 2013.
Construction firms employed 5.731 million people in January 2013, a gain of 28,000 from December 2012 and an increase of 102,000 (or 1.8 percent) from one year earlier.
According to AGC, building and trade contractors focused on residential construction added 14,500 jobs in January 2013 and 53,200 (2.6 percent) over the 12-month span covering most of 2012.
Nonresidential construction employment—building, specialty trade and heavy and civil engineering firms—expanded by 13,700 jobs in January 2013 and 48,900 (1.4 percent) from its year-ago level.
Stay in Touch
Every two years as Construction & Demolition Recycling compiles its list of the 20 Largest Recycled Aggregates Producers, we’re aware of several companies that potentially belong on the list but for whom we don’t have an actual or estimated tonnage figure.
If you own, work for or know of a company that you suspect should be on this list but was not contacted (or did not respond), please let us know and we will make sure to let our readers know. Brian Taylor can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or reached by phone at (330) 523-5324(330) 523-5324.
The mild but sustained improvement in construction activity was clearly reflected in the 2012 tonnage figures provided by recycled aggregates producers.
Companies who reported their recycled aggregates tonnage figures for both 2010 and 2012 experienced an average increase of more than 20 percent.
Larger firms closer to the top of the list experienced some of the strongest growth, including Ohio’s Independence Recycling with a 12.9 percent gain and Houston-based Cherry Crushed Concrete with an impressive 58 percent gain.
California’s economy, the largest among the 50 states, has suffered from both the housing bust and a state budget struggles. Ideally, the tonnage figures reported by two Southern California companies on the list—RAMCO of Ventura County and Dan Copp Crushing Corp. of Orange County—point to a long-anticipated rebound.
RAMCO enjoyed 21 percent growth in tonnage in its 2012 volume compared to 2010 while Dan Copp Crushing’s annual figure increased 4.6 percent.
As of mid-2013, construction activity in California varied by metropolitan region, with metro areas such as Napa and Hanford-Corcoran adding jobs while the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario region shed 3,100 construction jobs in May 2013 for a 5 percent decline in sector employment.
In Texas, fast-growing Cherry Crushed Concrete purchased a property formerly owned by K.C. Crushed Concrete in the first half of 2013 and converted it into Cherry’s fifth concrete recycling center.
When the company made the announcement, it said the additional plant meant it would be able to process between 8,000 and 10,000 tons of recycled aggregates daily in the Houston area.
As reported in the May-June 2013 edition of C&DR (“Awaiting Breakout,” starting on page 28), recycled aggregates producers are experiencing mixed results so far in 2013.
Jim Dykes of Dykes Paving in Georgia said, “There are not enough new projects being started and not enough old structures being torn down,” thus keeping his company’s crushing volumes in check.
“We anticipate a modest increase in 2013,” was the message from Leonard Cherry of Houston-based Cherry Crushed Concrete.
The More The Merrier
C&DR magazine compiles this list every two years, and we continue to encourage responses from companies that crush 250,000 tons or more annually of concrete, asphalt, brick and block.
We’d like to honor the companies that belong on this list, and we’d also like to hear about major highway or demolition/construction projects that have helped a company work its way onto the list.
For purposes of this list, figures for asphalt that is recycled by specialized in situ paving machinery are not included. Asphalt crushed at fixed plants and portable job site units are included, however.
Surveying the various industry segments that end up buying and operating crushing plants and then determining which are the largest and most active in their fields provides a challenge when it comes to collecting data for the list.
As well, companies have very different policies concerning the disclosure of their business activities when we do find them and contact them. Some are reluctant to provide information, and in some cases this probably led to their omission from the list.
Thankfully, many companies who have become familiar with the process understand that our intention in putting together the list is to recognize the most successful operators in this recycling segment. It takes hard work by a lot of people to put together winning bids, set up crushing plants, and produce marketable recycled aggregate products, and our hope is that a place on this list provides recognition for the employees of listed companies.
The practice of crushing and recycling concrete, asphalt, brick and block has become a vital part of the demolition, construction and road building processes.
Several factors—including more distant quarries, higher fuel costs and legislative bans on disposal—have helped build the market for recycled concrete and asphalt.
The construction sector economic trough of the past few years has created a competitive bidding atmosphere and a difficult search for tonnage for many crushing plant operators.
As our list seems to show, however, many of our readers continue to find opportunities to turn end-of-life concrete and asphalt into desirable aggregate products. C&DR
The author is the editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be contacted at email@example.com.
In every marketplace, businesses compete by establishing themselves with a competitive position that sets them apart. Sometimes that can mean providing the lowest price, the most unique twist or the largest selection. But for DK Organics in Lake Bluff, Ill., the focus has always been to provide the absolute highest quality products and follow the strictest production control to ensure that quality is consistently maintained. And for more than 20 years, it says it has been delivering some of the finest compost, mulches, soils and aggregates in the Chicagoland area.
It has been said that regulation can spawn an industry, and in Illinois that has certainly been the case for the compost and organics industry. When the green waste landfill diversion law was enacted in 1988, the market was suddenly faced with a glut of material that now had no established disposal solution. David “Sid” Gorter of DK Organics realized the tremendous potential that was unfolding and quickly scrambled to become educated enough to enter the business.
Gorter continued to refine DK Organics’ production methods and further increase the quality and purity of all its products. Continuous process improvements, capitalization on new university-level research and advancement in equipment were all investments the company made to ensure it maintained its high quality advantage. Creating top-quality products requires top quality equipment, and a critical piece of equipment for any organics yard is a screen. DK Organics was one of the first companies in the United States to own a Doppstadt SM series trommel, acquiring its first unit back in 2003, just a year after the screens first became available domestically.
DK Organics Operations Manager Andrew Mariani says, “The efficiency of [the trommel’s] production, the ease of operation and the minimal downtime have definitely had a positive impact on our operations and our product quality.”
A Demanding Job
DK Organics’ Doppstadt trommel is certainly asked to do a lot, including screening fines from mulch, finishing compost, creating blends and cleaning soil. The company even offers it on a contract basis to organic farmers off-site who are running small-scale compost operations. But never content with the status quo, Gorter already had his eye on the next innovation he identified that would propel the company further ahead of the competition. “For years, Sid was waiting for the Doppstadt star screen insert to become available in the U.S. market,” recalls Mariani. And just as it was among the first to get its hands on the Doppstadt brand back in the early 2000s, DK Organics was again among the first to get an SM star screen insert in March of 2011. “We traded in our existing [SM] 720 and got a new 720 with the star screen,” Mariani says.
The Doppstadt star screen insert is engineered to drop directly into the trommel unit, replacing the drum in what Doppstadt calls an easy 15-minute change. It works on a revised principle utilizing a urethane star design for extended life. The star shape on the shaft is oblong as opposed to the conventional round star, which aids dramatically with shaft cleaning. Alternate shaft speeds on the deck, exclusive to Doppstadt, are extremely effective in the stratification of material feed, leading to a cleaner oversize product and increased production rates, according to Doppstadt. Wet, clumpy organic material with moisture content as high as 60 percent or more can continue to be processed, with throughput results as much as 50 percent higher than screening through a drum, the company maintains.
For DK Organics, the results were significant. “We had been running a 1.5-inch drum, but recognized that we were just not getting the product we wanted in the time we wanted it with the quality we are aiming for,” says Mariani. “But the star screen was an immediate game changer for us. We were now doing in a day what had previously taken nearly a week to run, seriously.” The resulting increase in quality also was dramatic, and Mariani says he believes this single equipment investment alone has put the company far ahead of the competition.
“DK Organics is obviously not the only game in town, and other providers work hard to meet the needs of their customers too,” Mariani acknowledges. “But for us, our goal is to produce and deliver the highest quality compost, mulches and soils possible. Our customers come to us with that expectation and we need to always look for ways to exceed their standards. Our investment in this star screen is another example of that.”
DK Organics says its process begins with control over the source product. The company insists on using only clean, controlled yard waste and landscape material. After primary shredding, it produces a menu of mulch products, some of which are double- or even triple-ground fine to result in a premium product. Source materials include southern hardwood bark, premium hardwood and leaf mulch. Color and texture is crafted through precision aging. The company recently added a dark red product to its collection as a result of strong local demand.
Composts are produced with an initial grind, after which the material is windrowed and aged for two to three months. Heat, oxygen and moisture are constantly monitored; the piles are turned to replenish oxygen and grass is added when additional moisture becomes necessary. The final product is screened for purity and sold in bulk. Custom-blended composts, mulches and soils can be crafted upon request and are mixed in the Doppstadt SM trommel with the star screen insert. Mariani has found that the strong agitation of the star screen is a perfect environment for producing a consistent blended product.
As with any industry, staying on top means not standing still. Competition is always going to catch up, and marketplace demands constantly mature. As standards rise and expectations become greater, DK Organics says it will always be thinking two steps ahead. It has been more than 20 years since the company first realized the opportunity to gain an advantage in the Northern Illinois market, and it’s not about to let its guard down any time soon. C&DR
The article was submitted by Doppstadt US, Avon, Ohio. More information is available at www.doppstadtus.com.
In 1989, when the California State Assembly passed Bill 939 mandating that 50 percent of all municipalities’ waste be diverted from sanitary landfills, waste industry veteran Dan Agajanian saw both a business opportunity and an environmental responsibility. It was the passing of this new bill that led Agajanian to take action by adding a construction and demolition (C&D) recycling facility to his existing waste hauling company in East Los Angeles. Since its establishment in 2003, Agajanian and his staff at Direct Disposal have made it their mission to provide their southern California community with an ecofriendly, cost-effective solution to avoiding landfills.
“Recycling has come a long way in California in recent years,” says Agajanian. “Unlike many other facilities, more than 75 percent of all C&D waste delivered to Direct Disposal is turned into reusable commodities. Our current recycling rate meets the state of California’s guidelines and goals for the year 2020, something we take great pride in as a company.”
One of only a limited number of businesses to take this initiative, Direct Disposal is permitted to accept up to 174 tons of C&D debris daily, including materials such as steel, metal, aluminum, copper, wiring, plastics, scrap wood, dry wall, clean dirt, clean asphalt, clean concrete, mixed inert, tires and roofing material. The company accepts discarded material in various ways including customer drop-offs and through the company’s rental and hauling service of roll-off containers. Once the material is received at the facility, it is processed or sorted and separated into piles by type before being loaded into trucks and taken to other facilities for grinding, melt down and/or reuse in various forms.
To manage this expansive undertaking, Agajanian relies heavily on his equipment. “We move 200 to 300 tons of material around our facility on a daily basis,” states Agajanian. “Without the proper equipment in place, it is nearly impossible to keep up the necessary pace.” To assist in managing the incoming and outgoing materials at such a high rate, Agajanian decided it was necessary to add a new piece of equipment to his fleet. It was then he connected with George Davis, sales manager of Heavy Equipment Sales, a Hyundai Construction Equipment dealership with locations in Corona and Pacoima, Calif. Upon understanding the needs of Direct Disposal, Davis recommended a HL740-9 Hyundai wheel loader for the job. Agajanian says he was immediately impressed by the high-quality build and standard features the machine had to offer, not to mention the competitive price. In November 2012, Agajanian purchased the Hyundai loader and has continued to be impressed by its performance and productivity ever since.
“Before this purchase, we were bursting at the seams and having a challenging time doing our daily tasks with our old equipment,” says Agajanian. “Since we started working with the Hyundai loader, our productivity has doubled, and in a crucial industry like recycling that speaks volumes.”
Direct Disposal, East Los Angeles, Calif., invested in an HL740-9 wheel loader from Hyundai Construction Equipment to help it keep up with inbound C&D material.
Direct Disposal uses the loader in multiple applications, but primarily for sorting and separating material into piles and loading it onto the vast amount of trucks entering the yard to be taken to other recycling facilities. According to Agajanian, the machine loads approximately 80 to 100 tons of material onto three to four large, high-sided trucks per day and works a consistent eight to 10 hours per day, five days per week.
Of the many features the HL740-9 has to offer, Agajanian has found the three engine mode selections to be one of the most beneficial. Those modes are economy mode for light duty work, standard mode for general work and power mode for heavy duty work. This feature is designed to allow the operator to customize the machine’s engine power in order to increase productivity and reduce fuel consumption, which Agajanian has seen first-hand. Direct Disposal says it has saved 100 gallons of fuel per month since purchasing the Hyundai loader. With the cost of off-road diesel at around four dollars per gallon, the company will be saving approximately $4,800 per year.
Direct Disposal also has found the advanced 5.7-inch-wide color LCD screen and Hi-mate Remote Management System to be critical tools, especially when used in conjunction. The loader’s color monitor features an integrated load weight system which allows operators to view the bucket’s current load capacity to prevent over and under loading, which contributes to work efficiency. This data, along with many other types of diagnostic data, is stored and can be accessed through the Hi-mate Remote Management System from anywhere with Internet access. Agajanian accesses this crucial information approximately once per week through a daily reporting function and monitors the machine’s total cycles and daily tonnage moved in and out of the facility per day. With these tools combined, Direct Disposal reports it has been able to increase its total tonnage of scrap moved, as well as its cycle times, by 50 percent.
Enabling the Hyundai HL740-9 loader’s power and productivity is its reliable, fuel-efficient, 143 horsepower, Cummins, Tier-III QSB6.7 engine. The machine has an operating weight of 26,460 pounds, a bucket capacity of 3.0 cubic yards and a bucket breakout force of 24,800 pounds, all of which allow for moving heavy recyclable materials. “We have had numerous different types and brands of machines over the years, but with the Hyundai loader there is no comparison,” states Agajanian. C&DR
This article was submitted by InQuest Marketing on behalf of Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas Inc., Norcross, Ga. More information is available at www.hceamericas.com.