Chris Pashkevich, Clark Construction
By: Natalie Pressman
Having worked for Clark Construction for 45 years, Chris Pashkevich says that friends and family are probably getting sick of him pointing out jobs he's worked on in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. areas.
"I did a job recently where I stood on one corner and saw ten different buildings that I had worked on," he said. "I've done a hundred or so jobs, easily, just in D.C."
Construction, for Pashkevich, is a family affair.
His father was a pile driver beginning in the early '50s until he retired in 1992, and his older brother started in 1971 until his 2016 retirement. Likewise, Pashkevich's younger brother started at Clark Construction in 1980 and still works there today.
"My family has always been here," he said. "We all drive pile."
Even with retirement on the horizon, driving pile will continue to stay in the family. Pashkevich has a son and stepson who are both foremen at Clark Construction, in addition to another stepson who works for the company as a foundation superintendent.
In spite of his long career and family legacy in the industry, Pashkevich didn't always see himself working in construction he originally wanted to be a police officer. But when he went down to the police academy in 1973, he was told that at 5'7", he was two inches too short. That's when he decided to join his family in construction.
Click here to read more in PileDriver Magazine, 2020 Issue #2
Career Story on Dylan André, Patriot Deep Foundations
By: Jess Campbell
Dylan André is a lover of the outdoors, so it makes sense that he would get into a job that allows him to work outside. With a degree in construction management from Louisiana State University, André has worked in construction since graduating in 2012, but is new to the deep foundations industry.
"I didn't get to work in deep foundations until I came to work for my current company, Patriot Deep Foundations, which was only about a year and a half ago. So, I'm pretty fresh," he said. "But I absolutely love it."
Coming to work for Patriot may have been an easy decision for André, but that doesn't mean there wasn't any hesitation. Patriot had just formed their deep foundations division and André was very up front about his lack of knowledge. Yet his boss, Patriot Deep Foundations president Kevin Gourgues, encouraged André to take the leap.
"It was scary to say yes to the deep foundations opportunity," said André. "I said to Kevin, 'Man, I don't know anything about this.' And Kevin said, 'Look, you ain' got a thing to worry about. You sit next to me and I'll lead you to the promised land. I'll teach you everything I know and you'll learn from the people around you.' And that's exactly how it's been the last year and a half."
It's clear that André is grateful for every learning opportunity that comes his way, no matter who it's coming from. As project manager and estimator, he works with many different types of people. But he's always willing and open to learning from everyone, which he feels is an important aspect of being successful at the work he does.
"I don't look at it like there's a hierarchy and the superintendents that I work with work for me. Those guys know way more than I will probably ever know. It's been fun learning the ropes from people who have years of experience and know what they're doing." Continued, read the remainder of the story in PileDriver magazine.
Workplace safety in a cannibas revolution
By: Bob Morgan, Esq. and Rick Kalson, Esq., Benesch Law
Photo credit: openrangestock/123RF
There are now 33 states that have legalized medical cannabis and 10 that have legalized recreational cannabis, with more soon to come. Many of these state's laws have employer protections for safety-sensitive jobs, and generally allow an employer broad discretion to enact and implement zero-tolerance policies. For example, Arizona allows employers to discipline an employee for possessing or using marijuana on company premises or during work time, even if that employee is authorized to use medical cannabis (A.R.S. Sec. 36-2814(B)). However, note some contradictory caselaw in states such as Rhode Island (See Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics, C.A. No. P.C. 2014-6680, where an employer was found to have violated the state medical cannabis law for failing to hire a job applicant that had a medical cannabis card and stated she could not pass a drug test) and Connecticut (Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company, LLC, 2018 WL 4224075, at 1, D. Conn. Sept. 5, 2018, where an employer was found to have violated the state medical cannabis law when refusing to hire a medical cannabis patient who tested positive on a pre-employment drug test).
Notably, the vast majority of cases have ruled in favor of employer discretion regarding whether to discipline or terminate medical cannabis users. Even when anti-discrimination provisions were implicated, courts have consistently left open the possibility for an employer to take action against medical cannabis users in safety-sensitive positions (See Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, SJC 12226; July 17, 2017).
On its face, these decisions make sense. There are some industries where workplace drug testing is increasingly rare such as in the technology sector where millennial workers are more in-demand and others where the employer approaches cannabis as a substance scientifically less harmful than alcohol or more dangerous drugs. Yet, safety-sensitive positions such as construction sites, medical facilities and large warehouses will always require more stringent workplace standards.
Read more in PileDriver magazine...
By: Brian Fraley, Fraley Construction Marketing
So you want to capture high quality photographs, but you lack the budget for a professional photographer or high-quality camera equipment? There has arguably never been a better time for amateurs to capture decent shots because of that little high-powered gadget in their pocket, the smartphone.
While the importance of high-quality photographs has not faded, it's better to capture an acceptable photo of your work in progress than to have no photo at all. The following will serve as a foundation for aspiring smartphone construction photographers.
1. Buy a smartphone with a quality camera
When it's time to buy a smartphone, make sure the camera functionality and photo resolution are among the criteria you consider. Today's smartphone cameras are competing with actual cameras when it comes to quality. In fact, Samsung has an ultra-high 64Mp to 108Mp smartphone sensor, which has a resolution equivalent to that of a high-end DSLR camera.
2. Adjust the settings
You're not aiming to become a professional photographer and the smartphone doesn't have as many settings as a traditional camera, so your best bet is to use the auto setting, which is usually the default. The only settings you might consider changing are High Definition Resolution (HDR) and flash. One of the benefits of digital photography is that you can compare shots using each setting right on the jobsite.
3. Get closer to the subject
One of the most common problems with construction photos is that the shot is taken from too far away. Zooming in with the smartphone is as simple as touching the screen with two fingertips and sliding them away from each other. Reverse the motion to zoom out. Getting closer to the subject can also help you to overcome lighting challenges.
4. Experiment with lighting
Lighting can be tough on construction sites, especially when you're down inside of a deep excavation. There are some situations where you simply can't get good photographs without supplemental lighting. The best you can do is to take your shots in the best lit portion of the site. You might also alternate between flash and no flash to see which delivers the best photos.
5. Edit your shots for perfection
One of the best things about digital photography compared to traditional photography is that you can edit your images. There are dozens of software brands on the market, but most will find the Photos app in Microsoft Windows 10 to be a perfect option. You can easily straighten, crop and lighten the photo to improve your results. For a quick fix, you can use the option "Enhance Your Photo" under Filters.
Read more in PileDriver magazine...
A legal opinion published in PileDriver magazine, 2020 Issue #6
by: C. Ryan Maloney, Esq.
Jimerson Birr, P.A.
Disputes are a fact of life on construction projects. There are just too many variables, unknowns and unpredictable things that can occur during the course of a project that can lead to disagreements and disputes, particularly when significant dollars are at stake. However, as many in the construction industry know, or come to find out, engaging in litigation or arbitration over disputes can sometimes be so time consuming and expensive that, as the old saying goes, the cure can be worse than the disease.
Even as a lawyer that specializes in construction litigation and arbitration, sometimes the best advice I can provide to a client is to help them resolve their dispute without having to resort to litigation or arbitration. One of the ways to try to facilitate that type of resolution is through well-crafted contractual dispute resolution procedures that are required before the parties can engage in litigation or arbitration. While there may still be certain disputes that just cannot be resolved without going to court or arbitration, effective pre-suit dispute resolution provisions in a construction contract make it more likely that there will be fewer such disputes by requiring the parties to engage in meaningful dispute resolution before resorting to litigation or arbitration.
Stepped Dispute Resolution
One of the keys to an effective dispute resolution contract provision is to require the parties to meet and attempt to resolve the dispute before they can file a lawsuit or an arbitration. Therefore, one of the key things that needs to be included in the contract language is that the dispute resolution process needs to be made a mandatory "condition precedent" to the ability of either party to institute legal action or arbitration. This means that they must engage in the dispute resolution process before filing suit or commencing arbitration, and if they fail to do so, the court or arbitrator will either dismiss or stay the proceedings until the dispute resolution process is completed. While the parties can mutually agree to dispense with the dispute resolution procedures if they each agree to do so, the contractual condition precedent language prevents one party from unilaterally ignoring the process and going straight to litigation or arbitration without engaging in the required dispute resolution procedures.
In order to have a better likelihood of success, the dispute resolution procedures should also be a stepped process, with at least two sets of meetings, with the first being at the project manager level. The provision should require the respective project managers to meet in person to try to resolve the dispute within a certain number of days after the written submission of a claim or dispute. Such a face to face meeting at the project level can sometimes leads to resolution of a dispute that emails or letter writing simply cannot.
Second, if the project level meeting is not successful in resolving the dispute within a certain time frame, such as 30 days after submission of the claim or dispute for example, the next step should be a required in-person meeting at the executive level of the respective companies within another set time period. The intent with this type of meeting is to move it from the project level participants, who may be very personally invested and whose emotions may run higher, to the executive level where the participants would be less likely to be day to day project participants and may be able to take a more holistic and potentially more objective view of the dispute.
This should also be a face to face meeting, and generally should not have legal counsel in attendance at the meeting in order to try to facilitate practical negotiations less focused on adversarial legal positions. Oftentimes, executives may be able to see the bigger picture and have more authority and flexibility to be able to come to a resolution that could not have been reached by the project level participants.
Mandatory Pre-Suit Mediation
If the project level and subsequent executive level meetings are not successful in resolving the dispute after an agreed time period, then the next required step should be mediation. Mediation should be identified in the contract as a mandatory condition precedent to institution of legal action or arbitration so that mediation has to occur first, unless both parties agree to waive the requirement.
Mediation is a structured settlement conference managed by a professional and trained mediator whose job it is to work with the parties to try to resolve their dispute. While the mediator cannot make any rulings or force the parties to resolve their dispute, the mediator will often be an attorney with experience in construction law and special training in dispute resolution who should be able to provide the parties with an outside view on how a judge or arbitrator might view their dispute and can point out significant issues with the parties' respective claims and defenses. This is particularly true where the parties provide in the contract for the mediation to be administered under the construction industry mediation rules of organizations like the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") or JAMS, which have large lists of mediators specializing in mediating construction industry disputes. In addition, most states have laws that make what is said or presented during mediation by the parties or mediator completely confidential, and not admissible in court or arbitration, in order to try to encourage frank and open settlement discussions.
It is recommended that the contract provision requiring mediation incorporate the mediation rules of an organization such as AAA or JAMS to facilitate the mediator selection and the procedures of the mediation. If not, then the mediation contract provision should include a specific process for mediator selection to try to avoid disputes over who the mediator will be for the mediation. It should also provide that mediation should be held in the same city or county where the project is located, and should provide that the parties will split evenly the mediator fees. It is also important that the mediation contract provision provide that any agreements reached in mediation shall be enforceable as settlement agreements in any court of competent jurisdiction so that settlements reached in mediation are binding and enforceable. In addition, it is recommended that the contract provision allow for suits to be filed prior to completion of mediation if necessary to perfect mechanic's lien or bond claims, but that the parties agree that such proceedings shall be stayed pending completion of the required mediation.
If the project level meeting, the executive level meeting, and mediation are all unsuccessful in resolving a dispute, then the next step would appropriately be resort to litigation in court, or arbitration if the parties have agreed in the contract to require arbitration of disputes in lieu of litigation. While the type of stepped dispute resolution process described in this article is likely to result in faster and less expensive resolution of many disputes without the need for litigation or arbitration, disputes that remain unresolved after going through such a process are likely to be the type of dispute that truly needs the involvement of a judge, jury or arbitrator, and for which the time, effort and expense of litigation or arbitration may be justified. However, most disputes are not of that type, and requiring in the construction contract that the parties engage in a stepped dispute resolution process is likely to result in faster and less expensive resolution of many disputes, permitting the parties to focus their efforts on project completion and profitability rather than protracted and expensive litigation or arbitration.
A Unique Perspective from a Multi-faceted Career; John Peirce
by: Lisa Gordon, PileDriver magazine
This Construction Career profile originally appeared in PileDriver magazine, 2019 Issue #6
John Peirce has learned a lot of valuable lessons over his 46 years in civil engineering.
During that time, he's completed a couple thousand projects, mostly designing and building temporary and permanent earth retaining walls to facilitate road and bridge building, cofferdam and foundation construction, and shoring and underpinning of all types.
While working on his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in geotechnical engineering at Drexel University earned in 1973 and 1978, respectively Peirce landed a co-op position at The Conduit & Foundation Corporation's corporate headquarters in Philadelphia.
"I worked out in the field and got involved in heavy construction," said Peirce, who says that suited him just fine. In the early days of his career, he never wanted to be cooped up in an office.
Following graduation, he was hired on with The Conduit & Foundation Corporation and specialized in highway construction with them for 15 years, before moving on to geotechnical specialty contractor Schnabel Foundation Company.
Peirce stayed with Schnabel a design/build specialty contractor focused on temporary and permanent earth support for 11 years, eight of which were served as branch manager of the Philadelphia office.
In 1992, Peirce co-founded Peirce Engineering with his wife, Beth, and daughter, Jennifer Peirce Brandt, who is also a professional engineer. Later, his son, John another professional engineer joined the company.
By 1997, Peirce was focusing on the family engineering firm full-time. His diverse professional background and varied experience has served him well.
"I have a unique perspective," he said. "I've done highway work, plant work, utility work, estimating, project managing and I'm a retired surveyor. I was everything from a lowly rod man all the way up to a project manager."
PileDriver recently caught up with Peirce to talk about his impressive career and some of the key lessons he's aiming to pass along to his children.
From three key mentors over the years, Peirce learned the importance of being familiar with every aspect of a job, staying quiet when he was unsure of his facts and dealing with people fairly...Read More in PileDriver
Sealevel Construction, Inc. is a heavy civil contractor that was founded in 1997 by its president, Richard Roth, in the small town of Thibodaux, La. Starting with one employee and a toolbelt, Sealevel has evolved into a premier heavy civil contractor that self-performs services including deep foundations, structural fabrication, structural concrete, earthwork and sitework development with an emphasis on projects with driven piles. Reaching its 22nd anniversary this August, Sealevel has developed a reputation for its eagerness to take on unique challenges and to perform with integrity and safety as top priorities. With a constant reminder from its founder to "always think long-term," Sealevel has expanded its capabilities to truly self-perform all aspects of heavy civil projects. While its self-sufficiency gives Sealevel a competitive advantage, it also adds value for its customers and engineers. Driven by this vision of thinking long-term, Sealevel strives to create and maintain relationships by completing each job with client satisfaction. The company's goal is to work with integrity, innovation and safe performance. These qualities are found within the company environment and have led to its growth and success. Sealevel has completed many pile driving jobs in the Gulf Coast region. Most notable are two flood protection projects in Larose, La. that included a total of approximately 6,000 linear feet of steel sheet pile floodwalls. Also, Sealevel recently completed a 1,000 linear foot bulkhead in Port Fourchon, La., that included sheet piles up to 77 feet long and concrete deadmen supported by battered concrete piles. As a versatile deep foundation contractor, Sealevel has also completed many pile driving projects in the industrial market, including a project at an LNG facility where concrete piles were installed up to 110 feet long in one piece. Furthermore, Sealevel has recently concluded the Falgout Canal Flood Control Structure for the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District in South Louisiana. This job involved successful installation of steel pipe piles up to 84 inches in diameter and over 200 feet long, steel sheet piles over 80 feet long and fabricated jackets weighing 200 tons. Sealevel's 60-acre facility complements its driven pile work with cutting and fabrication capabilities, including steel and aluminum fabrication, sand blasting, painting, CNC oxyfuel cutting, CNC plasma cutting and a variety of other services. Sealevel also operates a waterfront yard in Houma, La. that offers fabrication and repair services for the marine transportation and construction industries. With a fleet of cranes up to 300 tons in size, over 30 excavators, air hammers, hydraulic hammers and vibratory hammers, Sealevel has invested heavily into pile driving equipment to better serve its clients and to stay true to its self-reliance. While equipment is a necessary investment, Sealevel considers its dedicated workers to be its most important asset. There are currently 170 employees with an extensive range of skill and diversity. A handful of employees began in the early days of the company with the majority of workers from the South Louisiana area who are committed to the company's growth in this region. Roth strives for an "open-door policy" with employees and encourages project managers and supervisors to do the same. Challenges are worked out by using a team approach and focusing on exhibiting integrity, innovation and safe performance. Everyone is important and safety has to be first. "From a moral standpoint alone, safety really has to be number one," said operations manager Travis Schonacher. An HSE director, HSE manager and onsite HSE representatives lead Sealevel's safety initiatives. Moreover, Sealevel has established a safety committee comprised of employees with different professional backgrounds. Together, the safety team oversees an extensive safety training program for new hires and existing employees. There is also specific training for project managers and supervisors and the development and implementation of specific site safety plans. Schonacher is also the president of the PDCA Gulf Coast Chapter. "One of the most important benefits of being involved in a PDCA chapter is the opportunity to interact and develop relationships with other pile driving contractors in a non-competitive atmosphere," he said. According to Schonacher, PDCA provides a wealth of information and opportunities to build relationships in order to foster success both within each company member and the industry as a whole.
When navigating many industries with a very specific niche product, like North Carolina-based The Hose Company, doors open to new opportunities to assist customers. The Hose Company provides hose delivery service and on-site repairs 24/7, making many contractors productive even on the night shift. "And, of course being huge race fans in Charlotte, N.C., we love helping out NASCAR teams," said Justin Robertson, certified mobile hose technician at The Hose Company. At night service "I remember the first 2 a.m. mobile repair call from a group in South Carolina, about 10 miles from us," said Rob Smith, The Hose Company's operations director. "These folks were building new warehouses and moving many concrete trucks to avoid traffic congestion during the daylight hours. They were also using multiple vibrating screeds for precise elevation control when suddenly production stopped dead. Think about it: it's 2 o'clock in the morning, full concrete trucks, sitting and spinning, and the precision leveling solution blows a hose." The Hose Company Team received a quick call and were on the road moments later with supplies already stocked in their service fleet. It is incredible that a $13 part could have shut down a job until 7 a.m., but not anymore. "Now, there is a choice." said Smith. NASCAR support The Hose Company received a Saturday call from Joey Logano Racing, a famous NASCAR team and driver. "This team was building a kit car for one of the preliminary NASCAR races," said Smith. This team needed choices, without wasting time at a store as they were designing and moving fittings from custom to universal. They really needed The Hose Company inventory and experts on site to help make these adaptations. So, The Hose Company sent in a technician and his fleet vehicle, allowing the race team to walk right in and find all the parts." Expanding since day one The Hose Company began operations in 2013 as a supplier of hydraulic hose to the pile driving, drilling, marine construction, manufacturing and redistributing markets. This startup of six people has since grown substantially as the markets and clients have demanded industrial and sanitary hose offerings. With growth like this, The Hose Company further expanded this year by opening a 7,000 square foot warehouse expansion and added additional loading docks to meet all the shipping demands of its hydraulic and industrial clients. "We have added industrial and sanitary hoses to our product offering. So not only are we doing hydraulic, but [are] now offering new markets industrial hose and fittings," Smith said. "We cut our teeth on the toughest part of the construction industry, pile driving, while supporting all other construction sectors [and] added a focus on the waste management industry and material handling. Today, The Hose Company has mastered each area they have taken on and are supporting more sectors like the carwash industry, elevator companies and other OEMs that build equipment, like car crushers...." The Hose Company started out selling B2B in the hydraulic markets. Today, they are doing much more with a fleet of retail and repair vehicles to handle on site with contractors, OEMs and more. Educated responsiveness is a cornerstone of The Hose Company's strategy. The company's goal is to educate its customers on how best to care for and maintain hoses, but to also always be available when problematic situations occur. The Hose Company team believes their ability to help clients centers around a customer-focused inventory and superior educational resources. "We want to speak the same language as our clients, so we offer one of the most comprehensive hose glossaries one can find online," said Luke Carpenter, hose team technician. A manufacturer and distributor The Hose Company manufactures Hydrauli-Flex, their brand of hydraulic hose in one-wire, two-wire, four-wire and six-wire hoses. The impressive part is The Hose Company carries and sells on a daily-basis 50-foot, 100-foot, 150-foot and 200-foot bundles of the large four-wire and six-wire hose. Many hose resellers in the market are working with The Hose Company as their supplier of this large hose. The Hose Company is a major distributor for the products contractors know and trust from Anchor Fluid Power, Brennan Industries, Dixon Industrial, Kuriyama, Midland Metal, NovaFlex, NRP Jones, Thompkins Industries, Word Wide Fittings, ZSI and many others. The Hose Company's highly trained team can reference part numbers from all these major fitting sources to best assist clients in getting the right fitting the first time. What's up in 2019? In 2019, The Hose Company's big initiative was the expansion into the industrial parts hose, offering to start and service the entire job site. Customers that do pile driving will also need other hoses outside of hydraulics. They need lay flat hose, discharge hose, air flow hose and more.... When the company's repair fleet goes onto a job site, it can fix all hoses and fittings saving customers time and money. "We really want to show our customers that we can deliver, and we deliver more more service, more advice, more help when they need it... just a lot more," said Smith.
New Jersey's most famous son once wrote that he was born to run, but you might say one of the Garden State's slightly less well-known sons was born to build. Brendan Binder is the president and founder of Binder Equipment Technology, a Middlesex, N.J.-based company that supplies Leica Geosystems machine controls to a number of construction firms across the United States as well as a full range of support services. Binder, along with his wife and company CEO Krissy, launched the independently-owned company in January of this year. He's hardly a newcomer to the heavy construction equipment industry, though. Prior to starting his own business, he was involved for many years in Binder Machinery Co., the company founded by his grandfather in South Plainsfield, N.J., in 1957 that was acquired by Komatsu Ltd. in 2016. Binder says the lessons he learned working for the family-owned enterprise over the years continue to have a profound impact on the way he does business. "Our focus was always on service and support for our customers and that's a philosophy we've carried forward into Binder Equipment Technology and something we take very seriously, which I think is a differentiator for us in the technology products distribution business," he said. "I keenly understand the needs of contractors and the significant need of uptime and the cost of downtime that contractors can incur as it relates to construction equipment." Binder knew soon after his family's business was sold that he wanted to start his own company. He also knew that he wanted to go in a slightly different direction, with a focus on machine automation and the growth opportunities that are available in the technology sector. In March 2017 he attended CONEXPO-CON/AGG, North America's largest construction trade show, to explore potential partnerships for his new business. The very first exhibit he visited at CONEXPO was Leica Geosystems and signed a partnership agreement with the international manufacturer a short time later. "I knew that Leica had a very strong reputation in machine automation and other precision products that they manufacture. I just knew that was a company that we wanted to partner with," he said. Binder Equipment Technology offers a range of Leica Geosystems products for a variety of heavy construction projects, all with a focus on automation. That includes machine-controlled systems for bulldozers, excavators, graders and various other pieces of equipment. One of the company's most popular offerings is the Leica iCON site construction software system that is geared specifically for the piling industry. As part of the system, a series of sensors are mounted on a machine's chassis and lead vertical system and are constantly determining where the lead is in relation to the machine body using a sophisticated GPS unit. Shawn Dahl, Binder's technology solutions manager, says the Leica system is unique in that it allows the machine operator to do the work of several people. "Instead of having to rely on a survey to manually lay out the fields, the operator is able to navigate the machine to the exact geodetic position of that designated pile location without having a surveyor in the field," he said. "The machine is also able to [assess] where the pile is put in the ground and to gain information about how that pile was put into the ground. If it's a soil mixing situation, we're also able to extract data about the soil mixing [and] the depth that was achieved by that pile." Binder Equipment Technology has already supplied the system to a number of larger civil contractors in the Eastern U.S. including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York State, including New York City and Long Island. The largest project the company has been involved with to date is 50 Hudson Yards in New York City. When complete in 2022, it will be the city's fourth largest commercial office tower at 985 feet tall with 2.9 million square feet of space. Despite its involvement in several big-scale projects, Binder says his company plans to stick with the formula that made his grandfather's business so successful. A major component of that strategy is to continue providing education and training to clients and their employees on all products Binder sells. "Education and training is key because when it comes to technology products, contractors who aren't already utilizing machine automation tend to shy away from it because of concerns about training and education for their employees," he said. "That's why we are very focused on ensuring that our customers' field support personnel are well educated and trained on the products that we sell and also have a direct line of support when they have questions they need answered." One of the first decisions Binder made after launching his company was to join PDCA. It was in keeping with his family's philosophy of helping the organizations that help them. "We've always felt it was important to have membership in industry organizations and associations, be involved in various committees and attend marketing functions because we understand the work associations do on our behalf," Binder said. "We also want to make that outreach to the pile driving market and really build our business by partnering with pile driving contractors throughout America who are looking to explore and implement machine automation into their organizations." Although Binder Equipment Technology is not yet a huge player in the industry, the company's president says it is actively growing and plans to add more people in the near future.
In 2014, DuroTerra leaders took on a wonderful opportunity when they launched their company while working with Austria-based Tiroler Rohre, GmbH (TRM), a manufacturer of ductile iron piles. These piles have been used in Europe for more than three decades and in the United States for more than 10 years. "The sister company of DuroTerra, LLC, is a specialty geotechnical contractor in the Northeast U.S. and has installed more than 50 successful ductile iron pile projects," said Rimas Veitas, P.E., who along with partners Chad Graybill and Christian Littlefield (owners of Helical Drilling and who have more than 80 years of combined experience in the specialty contracting and engineering industry) comprise the DuroTerra's corporate team. Brendan Fitzpatrick, P.E., a prior vice president at Geopier Foundation Company, joined the team in 2014 as director of engineering/marketing and manages operations of the company. With its corporate office and distribution yard located in the Greater Boston, Mass. area, DuroTerra is a distribution company specializing in ductile iron piles, which it distributes through a client base across U.S. and Canada along with select locations throughout Latin America. "In addition to material supply, DuroTerra also provides its customers with project feasibility assessments and preliminary design evaluations based on geotechnical site conditions and foundation plans to help evaluate the construction and technical suitability of the system," said Veitas. "We also provide equipment and construction support to assist installers in getting adequately set up for a ductile iron pile job and following construction guidelines to aid in the installer's construction success." Benefits of ductile iron piles Ductile iron piles are a modular, low-vibration driven pile system. The system utilizes a medium-sized excavator and percussion (demolition-type) hammer to install the piles, making it well suited for constrained urban sites or interior renovation work where overhead clearances are 18 feet or higher. "The equipment needed is simple and makes installation simple," said Graybill. "While the system has been used cost-effectively on wide-open sites, the vast majority of our customer's projects include building additions, interior retrofit work or tight, urban development sites. The system is versatile and can be installed to develop capacities ranging from 25 to more than 100 tons in either end-bearing on a competent bearing layer (i.e., rock or very dense ground) or by using an oversized pile shoe and continuously pumping grout during driving to create an efficient grout-to-ground bond zone for frictional capacity." Littlefield added, "Projects primarily include industrial and manufacturing additions and improvements, warehouse retrofits, commercial and residential buildings and additions and the occasional bridge support and municipal application. When a project uses ductile iron piles, the pile can go 150 feet without mobilizing a large crane. All that is needed is an excavator." When asked how contractors can find out whether ductile iron piles would be the right choice for their project, Littlefield said that besides meeting directly with project teams and participating in industry events, "Our team works with geotechnical contractors, engineers and owners to evaluate applicability of ductile iron piles for their projects. Involvement and feasibility assessment occur at all stages from early design phases prior to the selection of foundation systems through bidding (including value engineering opportunities) and even into construction when specified solutions are encountering issues and teams are looking for alternatives." Littlefield says the system is more cost-effective compared to micropiles, which can help a contractor secure the job. Fitzpatrick, who has more than 20 years of design/build geotechnical construction experience, concurs. "I encourage all of our existing and future customers to provide us with project information (structural foundation plans, geotechnical reports, boring logs, etc.) to evaluate and discuss whether the system is well-suited for their project. While it'd be great for all projects to make sense for ductile iron piles, we recognize that there are many different foundation solutions available to project stakeholders. We want to make sure that our solutions are providing value against other options." As for a project that stands out, DuroTerra was recently brought in as an alternative to a micropile system on an active project where a new interior mezzanine level was being constructed for an international shipping company. The project had overhead clearance restrictions of generally about 30 feet, but as low as 24 feet in some locations. "After encountering conditions that required the specified micropiles to go deeper than planned, the project team was looking for alternatives to avoid costly foundation overruns," said Fitzpatrick. "The ductile iron pile system was selected on a 1:1 replacement of the 50-ton micropiles and construction immediately proceeded to keep the project schedule on track. A total of 116 piles were installed in only six days, while working around existing distribution facility operations." He adds that the success of the ductile iron pile system for this project has led to ductile iron pile solutions on three other similar projects for the same international shipping company. "The most notable was a large interior project installed by PDCA member GeoStructures, Inc. near the Philadelphia International Airport. The project involved another mezzanine expansion and required more than 330 piles installed to depths ranging from 70 to over 100 feet to develop capacities of 45 to 75 tons. Overhead clearances were limited to around 35 feet in many locations, but did drop to 25 feet in limited locations. The pile installations were completed in four weeks while working around active facility operations." [Editor's note: GeoStructures, Inc. received a PDCA Project of the Year Award for the above-mentioned project; read the full story on page 75 of this edition of PileDriver.] These projects, Fitzpatrick says, along with a number of other similar jobs, illustrate some of the advantages of the system when working on projects with tight access, overhead clearance restrictions and vibration-sensitive conditions. PDCA membership and the future A relatively new member of PDCA, DuroTerra recently joined the association at the suggestion of Larry Moore, P.E, past president of PDCA and COO of GeoStructures, Inc. "We joined as a way to become more connected with the pile driving community," said Veitas. "We are looking forward to being better connected with contractors in the driven piling industry." As for the company's plans, Veitas says that like most companies, DuroTerra is focused on growth. "From a start-up company five years ago to having successful projects with customers in about half of the U.S. and Canada we see growth opportunities both geographically as we develop a greater customer base in the U.S. and abroad, and also by raising awareness of the DuroTerra™ brand and the benefits offered by the ductile iron pile system. Despite its long-term use in Europe and availability in the U.S., many contractors and engineers are not yet familiar with the system and the substantial benefits it provides in the right application."
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