Construction Blogs

“Good News”: Nonresidential Project Planning Rises, Says Dodge

September saw an uptick in planned nonresidential building projects, despite concerns about Covid-19, pricing and the political stalemate in Washington over the infrastructure bill.

The Dodge Momentum Index posted an 11% gain over August to 164.9, and a 30% increase over last September.

“The gain in the Momentum Index and its components in September is certainly good news and a sign that owners and developers are looking past the current concerns over pricing, Delta and politics and are moving forward with projects to meet demand,” says a news release from the Dodge Construction Network, which issues the monthly index.

The index’s commercial planning component rose by 13%, and the institutional component rose 8% over August.

The Dodge Momentum Index increases in September.Dodge Construction NetworkDodge says planning for nonresidential building projects began to recover early this year, but they declined during summer due to higher material prices and shortages in supplies and labor.

September’s turnaround saw a broad-based increase in project planning, with the exception of the health care sector, which has seen a drop in projects planned in the past several months, Dodge says.

When compared to September 2020, last month’s overall index increased 30%, with commercial up 32% and institutional up 25%.

Dodge believes that more ups and downs are ahead for the index. “Month-to-month volatility in the data is likely to remain for some time.”

Dodge Momentum Index over time
The Dodge Momentum Index’s peaks and valleys since 2004.Dodge Construction NetworkSeptember’s increase was driven by 17 projects costing more than $100 million each. Those projects include the $500 million “The Star” office building in Los Angeles; a $250 million office project in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and a two-phase lab facility in Boston that totals $675 million.

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Construction Services

Philadelphia Contractor Wins Equipment World’s 2021 Safety Award

Concrete Cutting Systems of Pennsylvania has been named the winner of the 2021 Safety Award, presented annually as part of Equipment World’s Contractor of the Year Award program.

David Nevrotski started Concrete Cutting Systems in 1995 in the basement of his house in Philadelphia. Today, it is an $11 million to $13 million company with 75 employees, including a branch office in Pittsburgh. Along with being the safety award winner, Nevrotski is one of 12 Constractor of the Year finalists for 2021. The awards were presented September 25 at a ceremony at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas. Presenting the safety award was Hiro Tongu, marketing manager at Caterpillar, a sponsor of the Contractor of the Year program for 21 years.

Specializing in difficult concrete cutting and drilling projects – with blades as large as 66 inches in diameter – the company makes safety a top priority so its workers go home each day injury-free.

Despite the dangers of the job, the company has experienced no lost-time injuries, no OSHA violations and has an experience modification rate of .73.

All of its workers have been certified to meet stringent federal silica dust requirements that took effect in recent years. All workers also have OSHA 10 certification, and many are cetified to OSHA 30.

Concrete Cutting regularly brings in a safety consultant to perform training. It also offers employees CPR instruction. Every month, a company-mandated stand down occurs to discuss  various safety topics.

Workers are also encouraged to bring up any concerns or suggest improvements. The company has offered incentives for workers who follow safety practices.

Often working at night on road projects, their trucks can be seen from far away by motorists, with lights underneath, on top and a strobe on the back. The company demands that the prime contractor have an attenuator truck on the jobsite and that when possible Jersey barriers and other safety structures are in place. Their workers can also be seen wearing lighted hard hats for additional protection.

“We try to get as much of the newest and best safety equipment out there,” Nevrotski says.

During the pandemic, the company policy was one person per truck. Each truck was also sanitized every day after returning to the office. Employees were provided masks, hand sanitizer and followed social distancing practices.

“They are extremely safety oriented,” says Mark Bastian, senior vice president of CTX Infrastructure. “We do work for natural gas utilities, which have some of the more stringent safety requirements. We have never had an issue with using them as one of our subs on the jobs.”

Adds another contractor client, Bryan Fleming of James J. Anderson Construction, “Their safety practice is one of the best around in the industry.”

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Construction Management

“Minimum Swing with Maximum Space”: JCB’s New 245XR Excavator

JCB has expanded its X Series of excavators with the reduced tailswing 28-ton 245XR while maintaining the lineup’s spacious cab.

Between 2018 and 2019, JCB rolled out five X Series excavators. But Tim Burnhope, chief innovation and growth officer, said there was still something missing in the line. As infrastructure needs and funding have grown, more contractors are finding themselves on tighter jobsites.

“We needed to complement our existing conventional tailswing models with a reduced tailswing model, a machine that could [operate] safely in urban settings, on utilities jobsites and on road construction projects,” Burnhope says.

That led JCB to develop the 5-foot 8-inch tailswing model, which has 40% less tail swing than its sister model the 220X. At 28 tons, the 245XR weighs 2 tons more than the 220X. JCB says it gave the 245XR an extra 2 tons of counterweight, and it recessed the counterweight to protect the rear end from impact damage.

JCB designed the reduced-tailswing 245XR excavator for such tasks as roadwork beside traffic.JCBThe next challenge was to reduce tail swing without sacrificing any space for the series’ standard Command Plus cab. JCB reports that the operator station is the same size as the 220X at 39 inches wide and 100 cubic feet of volume, delivering what it calls “minimum swing with maximum space.”  

To achieve the same performance, the company developed what it calls its strongest ever boom. The standard boom is composed of one piece for strength and lighter weight, according to Burnhope. A triple-articulated boom is optional.

A dipper-arm choice of 94 or 118 inches is offered. Dig reach with the mono boom is 31 feet and dig depth is 22 feet. The turntable rated at 26 tons is designed to increase digging force while distributing the force throughout the undercarriage, says Adrian Hall, heavy excavators product general manager.

The 245XR is equipped with heavy-duty track pads of 600 to 900 millimeters for “exceptional stability,” Burnhope says. A dozer blade is optional.

JCB 245XR excavator reduced tail swing
The JCB 245XR excavator’s dig reach with the mono boom is 31 feet and dig depth is 22 feet.JCBThe new excavator – along with all of the five other models in the X Series – gets a new JCB Stage V engine. Stage V is the new European emissions standard. The 245XR runs on a 172-horsepower JCB 448 diesel engine. Stage V and Tier 4 Finals emissions standards are achieved by selective catalytic reduction, diesel particulate filter and diesel oxidation catalyst.

Burnhope says the new engine does not require exhaust gas recirculation. He also says the new engine burns cleaner than the former diesel engine on the 220X, but delivers the same amount of torque of 708 foot-pounds. It also consumes 5% less fuel than the former Tier 4 motor, he says.

The engines now also feature auto-stop and auto-idle as standard to reduce fuel consumption and emissions when not in use.

JCB designed the excavator’s hydraulics for precise, smooth movement. The system features the latest Kawasaki pumps and Kayaba main control valve. The diameter of the hydraulic hose has been increased to improve hydraulic flow for increased performance and efficiency, Burnhope says.

JCB 245XR excavator reduced tail swing cab
JCB kept the same Command Plus cab on its other five X Series excavators on the reduced-tailswing 245XR.JCBThe full-size Command Plus cab is equipped with a variety of seat choices, including one with built-in heating and cooling and electric lumbar support. Standard cab features include rear and side cameras, heating and air, and Bluetooth integrated into the 7-inch control screen. The cab has double cushion viscous mounts to reduce vibration, and interior noise to 69 decibels. The joystick and switch controls are mounted to the seat and move with the operator.

JCB also placed the 245XR’s main service points in one ground-level compartment that is accessed by a large swing door. The company increased service intervals to 2,000 hours for air and hydraulic filters, and to 500 hours for engine oil.

Quick Specs

Max bucket capacity – 1.63 cubic yardsMax operating weight – 60,184 poundsHorsepower – 172Tail swing – 5 feet 8 inchesTravel speed – 1.99 to 3.54 mphMax digging reach (mono boom) – 32 feet 1 inchMax digging depth (mono boom) – 21 feet 9 inches



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Construction Services

From Brooms to Blowers, 11 Attachments for Clearing Snow

Winter weather is close at hand, so it’s time to start thinking about snow-clearing equipment.

Contractors have a variety of attachments to choose from to equip their construction equipment or pickup trucks to remove snow and ice from roads, parking lots and other surfaces.

Here are 11 attachments to consider:

Bobcat’s hydraulically driven angle broom attachment (pictured above) can handle quick cleanup jobs without damaging pavement surfaces. The bristles’ waved design creates a cleaner path and can sweep more snow or debris in one pass. Reverse bristle rotation is available on the 68- and 84-inch angle brooms for sweeping leaves, snow and debris away from corners, curbs, buildings and obstacles. The standard orange heavy-duty bristles are designed for longer life and better visibility. The attachment is available for Bobcat’s M and R series compact track loaders and skid steers and Bobcat Toolcats.

Doosan snow pusherDoosanDoosan’s bucket-mounted snow pusher attachment is designed for the company’s 13- to 20-metric-ton wheel loaders and toolcarriers. The attachment comes in two versions: 12 feet wide at 2,200 pounds and 14 feet wide at 2,400 pounds. The pusher is designed to be an alternative to buckets and traditional plowing for clearing parking lots and roads. Features include a 47-inch moldboard for high-capacity snow removal, a 1.5-inch rubber cutting edge to protect surfaces, high-grade steel skid shoes, a 12-inch push beam and three bucket-mount support tubes to help keep the snow pusher rigid.

Fisher Storm Boxx snow plow
Fisher Storm Boxx snow pusherFisherFisher made its Storm Boxx pusher plows for large construction equipment, such as wheel loaders and backhoes. Models are available at 12, 14 or 16 feet wide. A two-piece steel trip edge is designed to deliver a cleaner scrape of hardpacked snow and ice. It also protects the operator and equipment when hitting hidden obstacles. Floating attachment plates allow side-to-side movement and smooth out bumps, keeping the pusher in continuous contact with the surface. It is also designed to be easily attached to various equipment.

Hilltip salt spreader pickup truck
Hilltip salt spreaderHilltipHilltip’s new IceStriker 2000-3300 SSA/SSC stainless-steel salt spreaders are designed for three-quarter-ton trucks. The device can spread bulk sand and gravel, bulk/bag salt, sand-salt mixes and fertilizers. It is offered in three sizes: 2, 2.65 and 3.3 cubic yards. The stainless steel wards off corrosion, and Hilltip also immerses its hoppers in an acid bath to ensure corrosion-free welds and surfaces. An inverted “V” with a vibrator helps prevent bridging. The stainless-steel flip-up chute is designed to spread salt in environments with high humidity, and a tarp kit helps keep spreading materials dry.

HitchDoc hydraulic snow blower
HitchDoc hydraulic snow blowerHitchDocHitchDoc’s all hydraulic snow blower is designed to reduce your carbon footprint. The company has eliminated the diesel engine, crankcase, shear pin and air filter, as well as the need for diesel exhaust fluid. The hydraulic blower is quieter and offers better visibility and balance. It is 9 feet wide and weighs 5,200 pounds. It is designed for wheel loaders of 2 to 4 cubic yards equipped with hydrostatic transmissions.

JCB Snow Blower
JCB Snow BlowerJCBThe JCB snow blower range features a two-stage design with the ability to throw snow 25 to 40 feet. A poly-lined chute and deflector can be adjusted to direct the snow discharge. The 25-inch standard flow shroud openings quickly dispense with high volumes of snow. The direct drive hydraulic motor design reduces the number of moving components for less wear and longer life. The blower includes adjustable skid shoes, a bolt-on replaceable wear-resistant tapered steel edge and quick release coupling. It is available in widths of 60, 72, 78 and 84 inches in either standard or high flow.

Pettibone SpeedSwing 445F snowblower
Pettibone SpeedSwing 445F with snowblowerPettibonePettibone’s Speed Swing 445F rail crane is now available with a CreepDrive system from Poclain Hydraulics that allows it to run high-flow attachments like snow blowers and power brooms at slower travel speeds on or off the rails. The CreepDrive can deliver up to 33 gallons per minute of hydraulic flow. It comes with a display interface for controlling rpms and an integrated rocker pedal for traveling the machine forward and in reverse up to 2 mph. The Speed Swing 445F provides 180-degree boom rotation and has a spacious, climate-controlled operator cab.

SnowEx heavy-duty snowplow
SnowEx heavy-duty snowplowSnowExSnowEx’s heavy-duty straight-blade snowplow gives skid steers commercial-contractor performance. It is available in four blade widths. The plow is built with a formed base channel for extra durability. Six vertical ribs, two angled Power Ribs and a quad design provide added torsional strength to prevent blade twisting. The A-frame is constructed of tubular steel to handle the toughest jobs.

Virnig picukp broom with water tank
Virnig picukp broom with water tankVirnigVirnig’s Internal Water Tank Broom for skid steers controls dust as you sweep. The protected 55-gallon tank behind the bucket provides 35 minutes of continuous runtime. The translucent tank has capacity indicators so water level can be viewed by the operator while in the cab. The guarded adjustable valve regulates water pressure to the nozzles. The broom is available in 72 or 84 inches. Features on the broom include a recessed and guarded direct drive motor, HD bucket with wear bars, bolt-on edge, oversized 2-inch bearing, poly/wire bristles and pin adjustment system.

Western Prodigy Skid Steer Snowplow
Western’s Prodigy Skid Steer SnowplowWesternThe Prodigy snowplow from Western features wings that automatically move with no additional wiring or controls. It has a universal skid-steer mounting plate. Once the pins are engaged, the plow is ready. The plow uses the onboard hydraulics system of the skid steer to lift and lower the blade. An oscillating mount that provides 6 degrees of total side-to-side oscillation is optional to improve scrape and cutting-edge wear while reducing damage to the terrain.

Winter Equipment Razor Arrow snow blade
Winter Equipment Razor Arrow snow bladeWinter EquipmentWinter Equipment’s Razor Arrow Straight Blade System is designed to give Western Pro Plus plows longer blade life and improve cutting. It features two, 4-1/2-foot Razor blade sections, two Plow Guard Juniors and grade 8 hardware. The two Plow Guard Juniors prevent uneven and premature wear on the plow’s wear bar. The Razor Arrow system includes a two-piece, pre-welded blade with 5/8-inch abrasion-resistant cover plates. The cover plates are welded to a tungsten carbide insert cutting edge for increased wear life and surface footprint. Built-in wear indicators help to track wear life.




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Construction Services

Construction Begins on Tennessee’s Most Expensive Road Project

Work has begun on widening I-65 from Nashville to the Kentucky line, the highest-cost road project in the state’s history.

The interstate will be widened from four to six lanes.

In all, nearly 26 miles of roadway will be widened to address safety and improve traffic flow. The roadway currently sees high traffic, especially at peak commuter times, leading to traffic jams and crashes, says the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Shoulders of 12 feet wide will be added, as well as concrete median barrier wall in places.

The project includes two northbound truck-climbing lanes and an auxiliary lane in each direction between interchanges at Exits 96 and 97.

The project has been broken down into five phases. Jones Bros. of Tennessee has won the $160 million contract – the largest award in TDOT history – for the 9.68-mile section from State Route 25 to near SR 109 in Davidson County, which is set to begin.

Along with widening, that section requires the replacement of 10 bridges, replacing an overpass and building 17 retaining walls. The northbound weigh station will be converted to tractor trailer parking. And Intelligent Transportation Systems will be added throughout the corridor.

Work is expected to be completed in December 2025, with road closures mostly on nights and weekends. The contractor has incentives to finish early, as well as penalties for missing deadline, according to TDOT.

Other sections of the project are as follows:

From Rivergate Parkway to near SR 41 (US 31W)From near SR 41 (US 31W) to near SR 257 (Bethel Road)From SR 257 (Bethel Road) to SR 25 (Main Street)

A section between SR 109 and the Kentucky line has been completed.


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Construction Services

Switch Between Tracks and Tires with Ditch Witch’s RT70 Ride-On Trencher

The all-new Ditch Witch RT70 ride-on trencher, introduced at the Utility Expo, gives you the option of switching from tires to tracks depending on what the jobsite requires.

The machine’s modular design features a single base unit with the option to move from tires to tracks. “In the past, trenchers either came with tracks or tires,” says Steve Seabolt, Ditch Witch product manager for heavy duty trenchers. “Now, if a customer decides later that they want to upgrade to tracks to work in different conditions, they can do so.”

The tires-to-tracks switch is accomplished at the dealership by unbolting the tire assemblies, mounting the track assemblies and then changing the machine’s software. (With the track assemblies each weighing 1,600 pounds, the switch is usually best handled at the dealership.) With different attachments and optional add-ons, operators can customize their machine throughout its lifecycle for specific jobsite needs.

Machine size was also a design driver, Seabolt says. “We wanted to put as much power in a small footprint to keep the weight and size down,” he says. “Contractors want to be able to pull it behind a smaller truck and get into more confined spaces.”

Ditch Witch’s patented cooling fan simultaneously pulls air in from the front and off the rear, exhausting it out of both sides of the trencher.Equipment WorldDirecting heat away from the operator was also a design directive. “Most fans are typically pulling and pushing air through the radiator, which passes over the engine and ends up on the operator, making for an uncomfortable environment,” Seabolt says.

Instead, Ditch Witch uses a patented cooling fan that pulls the air in the front, like normal, and then simultaneously pulls it in through the rear, off the engine and off of the operator, exhausting it out of both sides of the trencher. Daily maintenance points are grouped in one accessible location and covered with a single-piece, easy-open hood. 

An open layout and 90-degree swivel seat give you a full view of the machine from front tire to back tire and attachment. The enhanced visibility and ergonomics keep you comfortable for productivity over a long workday.

With a 72-horsepower Yanmar diesel engine and built with a 73-inch-wide footprint, the RT70 rubber-tire trencher can handle heavy-duty jobs. Steering is with a wheel rather than levers, and the trencher’s crab steer enables you to maneuver around obstacles in tight spaces.

Track length is 104.4 inches. Top speed with tracks is 4.22 mph, while the rubber-tire option gets 6.52 mph. For slow-speed operation, the tracks get down to 0.79 mph,  while the machine with tires can creep along at 1.21 mph. The RT70 also comes with a 72-inch backfill blade.

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Construction Services

What’s It Like To Operate the New Volvo Electric ECR25 Excavator, L25 Loader?

U.S. contractors are now getting real-world experiences on Volvo Construction Equipment’s first battery-electric compact machines, the Volvo ECR25 excavator and the L25 wheel loader.

Four Volvo CE customers used the two machines in a variety of applications for about a year. 

The verdict? Zero-emissions does not mean decreases in productivity. Testers say they saw no compromises in digging depth and breakout force on the excavator or tipping load and dump height on the wheel loader. In addition, the units had full use of hydraulic power to any attachments.

To help show its operators what the electric ECR25 could do, one company testing the machines, demolition contractor Casper Company, ran a side-by-side demo of the electric unit with a diesel machine, both equipped with breakers. “It was as strong if not stronger [than the diesel machine] and that kind of changed everyone’s mind,” says Darrell Merritt, Casper superintendent. “I was shocked as well.”

Darrell Merritt, Casper Company, (left) and Jacques Marais, Baltic Sands, detailed their experience with the electric compact machines during a Volvo press event. Stephen Roy, Volvo CE president of region North America, moderates.“I had guys who wanted all the diesel power they could get, and they were surprised at the machines,” says Jacques Marais, director, Baltic Sands, a residential builder that specializes in off-grid property management, which also demo’d the electric units. 

Where the challenges remain are in battery charging speed and infrastructure. “There are current limitations in terms of getting a full eight-hour day,” Marais comments. Still, he says, “recognize that the electric machine is going to give you something that’s really close to it.”

“My guys usually work 10-hour days and we had to charge them at lunch and on breaks,” Merritt says. “If we were doing soft digging we got a little further, but not if we were using a hammer for 10 hours day.”

But there’s no doubt that there is a growing interest in electric-powered units by users, prompted in part by project owner concerns over the emissions and noise produced by diesel machines.

A week after the California press event, Volvo CE demo’ed the two machines at the Utility Expo. More than tire-kickers got behind the controls: Volvo says it took ECR25 orders during the show, orders that will start being filled in January. 

Tester experience
Baltic Sands test units.
Baltic Sands test units.Volvo CE

Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and administered by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the goal of the pilot test was two-fold, says Ray Gallant, vice president of product management and productivity, Volvo CE. One, put the machines in real working conditions and two, test the charging infrastructure.

Working through its company-owned Volvo Construction Equipment & Services California dealer, Volvo tapped four organizations to demo the electric ECR25 and L25: 

Baltic Sands used the machines to excavate, grade and move materials among other tasks.Casper Company employed them for demolition work, including inside buildings.The California Department of Transportation used the units for trenching, grading and clearing of drainage areas.Waste disposal and recycling giant Waste Management tasked them with light waste handling.

Together the operations put 400 operating hours on the machines but don’t equate that with hours on a diesel engine, which accumulates hours as it consumes fuel, including idle time. With electric machines, if it’s not moving, no hours accumulate.

Testing operations found that charging infrastructure and speed remain a challenge, although Volvo says the high current available on the U.S. power grid proved beneficial in comparison with the European tests it has conducted. The tests used several charging options, including 240-volt AC grid power, a prototype 48-volt fast-charging mobile charger and a solar powered charger manufactured by Beam Global.

The machines use the same Type 2 charger currently on electric cars.

Using off-board fast charging, the excavator can be recharged 80% in one hour; for the loader, 80% can be achieved in 2 hours. On-board recharging takes 5 hours for the excavator and 12 hours for the loader. Depending on application and use, this gives each machine about 8 hours of operation.

Since Casper was using its electric machines on several jobs, it transported the units back to its yard for overnight charges.

Because Baltic Sands works in remote areas that aren’t connected to the grid, during the early stages of the project it transported the machines back to is yard for charging. Baltic eventually landed on using the solar-powered charger. “We found that to be a really good solution,” Marais says. It was an exciting prospect for us, especially down the line,” he says.

“I personally love solar charging,” Gallant says. In fact, Volvo had Beam Global set up its EV ARC 2020 transportable charging station at in the company’s Utility Expo booth. We’ll explore that system in a later story.

Changes in attitude

While his older operators were hesitant at first that quickly dissipated, Merritt says. “They figured out it wasn’t so hard,”  he says. There were also other benefits.

“We do a lot of underground utilities in existing occupied buildings and some of the biggest problems we have are noise and exhaust fumes,” Merritt says. Because of this his firm was prompted to do this work by hand. Merritt was actively looking for an alternative when the Volvo test opportunity presented itself.

“My guys loved it because they could talk to each other,” he says. (Volvo says exterior noise decreased by 9 decibels — a 90% reduction in sound power — on the the ECR25 compared to diesel units. The L25 saw similar reduction in sound power.) “They’re usually waving their arms to get an operator’s attention, so it’s also a safety thing.”

Another benefit, Merritt says: not being tired at the end of the day.

“Operator fatigue is a big deal,” Marais agrees.

Electric machines could also serve as a competitive advantage, Merritt says. “A lot of time we kind of get a bad rap for being the loud demolition guys,” he says. “This gives us up a leg up and our general contractors are pretty excited about it.”

Volvo also points out electric machines don’t require diesel engine maintenance such as changing oil, oil filters and diesel particulate filters. The DEF tank is also eliminated. What remains is the hydraulic system oil and filter and the coolant for the inverters and the drivetrain.

Volvo says the lithium-ion battery-powered units which again worked a combined 400 hours  reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 6 metric tons. Compared with a diesel-powered model, the test units saved 560 gallons of fuel at an estimated cost of $2,400, according to Volvo.

Quick specs

Priced at $92,900, the ECR25 features a 24-hour electric motor (peak), 20-kilowatt-hour battery capacity and has an operating weight of 6,102 pounds. In the operator’s seat, the machine noise is 74 decibels; outside the machine, the level is 84 decibels.

The L25, priced at $135,000, has a 48-horsepower electric motor (peak), a 1.2 cubic-yard bucket and weighs 11,023 pounds. 

Volvo  says it will continue to develop the electrification of other sizes and types of machines, along with pursuing additional grant opportunities and strategic partnerships. Beyond electric, Volvo sees hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen combustion and grid-connected machines all playing a part in the zero-emission jobsite journey.

Volvo says its R&D will focus next on continuing the enhance the run times of the machines, optimizing on-board charging systems and exploring alternative charging methods for jobsites that do not have ready access to charging stations.


Construction Blogs

15 Proven Ways To Recruit Construction Dealer Techs

The ever-present dealer technician shortage had us thinking it might be a good time to revisit some of the best construction equipment tech recruiting tips we’ve received from dealers and rental companies. 

1.Go to where the gearheads hang out. This can include truck mud-runs and local motorsports events. Sponsor an involved employee or a car and invite current employees to attend think of them as your ambassadors. While you might not find a trained diesel tech in the audience, many of the attendees will have a mechanical interest. Your sponsorship may give you access to this community plus build retention among the techs you already have.

2. Think beyond just out of high school. Those fresh-faced 18-year-olds may not be your only hope. Some argue that those with more years and more life experiences may be also be prime targets, especially if they’re only making $16 an hour in an Amazon warehouse. Those who have started families may be receptive if you lay out a career path and a smart diesel tech these days most assuredly has a career path.

3. Get good at social media. Yes, this is obvious, but do you really practice it? Consistent posting is the name of the game. Create a social media plan and execute it. Put up regular posts of your employee’s jobs, milestones and success stories, and encourage them to do the same. If a technician completes a rebuild on a big engine, for instance, the selfie they take might detail how they overcame the challenge. His or her share  full of the pride of accomplishment about work done at your company could in turn gain an audience. And it will remind people that you’re a great employer.

4. But don’t dismiss the tried and true. Traditional methods can still hold sway, including help-wanted signs on company property or trucks, word of mouth and employee referrals. Many employers swear by the referrals they get from current employees because employees know a bad referral will reflect poorly on them. And always ask job candidates how they heard about your company and keep track of which methods work.

5. Be aware of the digital tools available to you. Find out how you can target an online audience. Look into geotargeting and targeted data sets and know what works in terms of setting up your online ads and landing page(s). You can target people on Facebook, job boards and through search-engine marketing. And be transparent in your messaging. This includes being direct about base pay, hiring and relocation bonuses as well as highlighting company culture. Have a timely lead followup in place; ideally respond within 5 minutes by phone after a lead comes through. 

6. Make sure you’re inviting to women and minorities. Realize that diversity inclusion and workforce development are closely intertwined. When you do a bad job at tapping into diverse groups, you are more likely to have a workforce problem. Explore local groups that can help you reach out to specific communities.

7. Grow your own. It’s difficult to hire off the street and there are not enough tech school grads to fill the need. One neglected area may be right in your back yard. Make sure your own techs know about the opportunities you are bragging about to the outside world and encourage them to advance.

8. Up the ante. Sometimes it is a money/benefits game. Assess what you’re offering compared with all local employers, not just the ones who are your direct competitors. One rental company offers to match a certain percentage of an employee’s student loan payments up to $30,000 — and they don’t require a period of employment before the reimbursements begin. 

9. Have a recruiting plan. If you’re proactive with your recruiting strategy you won’t have to hire out of desperation. And don’t stop. Actively recruit even if your shop is currently at capacity. Set a goal of tech interviews to be accomplished in a certain time period. Consistently evaluate what works and what doesn’t.  

10. Celebrate incoming tech interns. Several tech schools and dealerships have set up “signing day” events such as those conducted for celebrated college athletes. It helps solidify the intern’s commitment and gives them the vision and knowledge they have an official spot.

11. Emphasize the career runway. Candidates have to earn the next rung on the ladder and there are going to be long hours, hard work, grease and dirt involved. New hires are not going to get a $70,000 job right out of tech school. But let them know there is a career runway and there are many paths up from the shop floor. These include the emerging technical expert who guides customers on the best way to employ today’s machine control solutions.

12. Hire a hero. The Reserves and National Guard are sweet spots for recruiting because their units are all locally based. These “weekend warriors” pull one weekend of active duty service a month and one two-week mission a year. The rest of the time they are civilians. While not all Reserve or Guard units have mechanics or technicians a high percentage have motor pools. In addition to a scholarship, one rental company pays the gap between discharge and when the G.I. Bill benefits take effect, providing around $1,200 to help cover living expenses. And be sure to spend time at any recruiting and career fairs at military bases in your area.

13. Take back the high schools. Don’t assume that local guidance counselors know that there are high-paying jobs that go unfilled in their local area. One company wrote to 3,500 guidance counselors and educators in its state, and received several “we didn’t know” responses. One dealer goes on more than 80 high school visits a years to connect with students in three states. Another dealer makes presentations on how to research and choose a career that’s only tangentially about diesel tech careers. Educate the people who are at your back door. 

14. Don’t forget the parents. Take a cue from the recent U.S. Army ad campaign you’re looking for a few good parents, ones that see the open technician field as a great opportunity. Host an event at your shop and invite the parents along with the students. Have your techs show what it’s like to work on heavy equipment. Recruiting talent is no different than a college football coach coming into someone’s living room and telling the parents that when they come to you, you’ll make sure they do well.

15. Never stop recruiting. Adopt some tactics floating in automotive circles. Have a business card with your elevator pitch on it, outlining the top three reasons why people should work for you. Or make it simple: show a piece of construction equipment with text that reads, “Your next job here” with your contact info. Hand them out with a comment such as, “I’m Joe and I hire diesel technicians.”

Construction Management

Industry Roundup: National Equipment Dealers buys Richardson

National Equipment Dealers (NED) has bought Richardson Service 1991, expanding its organization in South Carolina.

Based in Conway, South Carolina, Richardson specializes in construction, forestry and compact equipment and will now represent Hyundai Construction Equipment, Manitou, Sakai, Yanmar and Bell.

The former Richardson branch will be the first location among NED companies renamed as NED. Over the coming months, NED will rebrand the remaining MAY-RHI, Earthmovers Construction Equipment and Four Seasons branches to NED.

Through Richardson, NED gains the Berko, CMI and Prinoth lines. The entire Richardson team will remain with NED.

F&W adds Ransome Attachments

Pictured are (from left): Eric Ransome and Barbara Freund of Ransome Attachments, and Matt Valentine and Mark Laigle of F&W.Ransome Attachments

F&W Equipment has added the complete line of attachments offered by Ransome Attachments, including its Exac-One Mini Mower and Black Splitter S2 800 Cone Splitter. 

F&W also offers Kubota compact and mid-size farm and landscaping equipment, Doosan excavators, wheel loaders and compact equipment, as well as other specialty equipment.

Maverick joins Morbark

Maverick Environmental Equipment has been named a Morbark Industrial Products dealer for Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and western West Virginia. Maverick has locations in Newbury and Bremen, Ohio, with a focus on aggregate processing, waste recycling, forestry and biomass.

H&E completes crane sale 

H&E Equipment Services has completed the $130 million cash sale of its crane business to Manitowoc. H&E says it will use the funds for facilities expansion, rental fleet investment and general corporate purposes. 

“We believe our transition to a pure rental business strategy should result in improved revenues and margins through the industry cycle,” says Brad Barber, H&E CEO.

H&E also sold two earthmoving distribution branches in Arkansas, and will remain a distributor of earthmoving equipment in Louisiana. The company now has 101 branch locations in 24 states.

SMH Group adds Wood’s CRW

Wood’s CRW is now a dealer for Atlas material handlers, owned by SMH Group US. The Atlas line includes mobile industrial machines and industrial tracked machines for the scrap, wood and recycling markets, among others.

Based in Williston, Vermont, Wood’s CRW has four locations with coverage in all or part of eight states. It offers Volvo Construction Equipment, Link-Belt cranes and excavators, National cranes and Mecalac product lines.

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Construction Management

Colorado Contractors Sue Denver Over Vaccine Mandate

Colorado contractors groups are suing the city of Denver over its mandate that workers on government contracts be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The federal lawsuit says the city’s order unlawfully requires contractors to enforce a government mandate and violates due process by commanding “a person to perform an impossible act.”

The order was issued August 2 by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock requiring city employees, along with workers on city contracts, to be fully vaccinated by September 30. Contractors could face fines of $5,000 a day, the suit says.

The contractors’ suit argues that up to half of the industry’s workforce is “vaccine hesitant” – “not because, as may be argued, they have some political opposition, but because the construction industry is largely made up of communities of color who are vaccine hesitant due to mistrust of the government.”

The contractors have offered financial incentives and paid time off to encourage workers to get vaccinated, as well brought in mobile vaccination services to worksites, the suit says.

It adds that the mayor’s order did not provide enough time for workers to become fully vaccinated, even if workers were not hesitant about the vaccine. Contractors are also under tight schedules and budgets on city government contracts “that will be impossible to meet if the contractors have to fire unvaccinated and unexempted employees or reassign them to non-Denver projects (if any exist),” according to the lawsuit.

It notes that contractors could be subject to liability against claims of employees rejecting the vaccine due to medical or religious exemptions. It adds that the order unfairly treats some contractors because it exempts those working at the Denver International Airport.

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that contractors are not required to enforce the order and that the order is unenforceable against them. It also asks the court to prevent the city from enforcing the order on contractors while the case is pending.

The lawsuit includes comments from contractors who say that with large percentages of their workforce unvaccinated, and refusing to be vaccinated, they would not have enough workers to finish their city projects on time and on budget.

It notes, too, that other vaccine mandates, such as those recently announced by President Joe Biden, offer mandatory Covid testing as an alternative to vaccination, “showing that the public interest in preventing the spread of Covid-19 can be advanced without pushing people out of the workforce, imposing yet untold costs and delays to critical city projects, and inflicting loss and liability on private businesses.”

It notes that testing alternatives are also offered by multiple local governments around the country.

The contractors groups suing the city are as follows:

Colorado Contractors AssociationColorado Stone, Sand and Gravel AssociationColorado Ready Mixed Concrete AssociationColorado Motor Carriers AssociationColorado Asphalt Pavement AssociationHispanic Contractors of ColoradoRocky Mountain Mechanical Contractors Association

Michele A. Horn, assistant city attorney for the city and county of Denver, will represent the city and county, as well as Mayor Hancock and Robert McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, which are also named in the lawsuit. The City Attorney’s Office says it does not comment on active litigation.


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