Kroeker demolition cites its equipment selection as a key element in its steady growth

Equipped for success: Kroeker demolition cites its equipment selection as a key element in its steady growth

Larry Trojak

Today’s demolition contractor differs greatly from his counterpart of as little as 25 years ago, most observers would agree.

Once solely dedicated to the demolition facet of a job, today’s professionals in order to survive, let alone maintain a competitive edge–often must augment their operations with a solid material processing and recycling effort.

So when Fresno-based demolition contracting firm Krocker Inc. was called upon to help process material from a wood waste stockpile that bad caught fire and burned for 26 days, not only was the company able to do so, it excelled at the task. The result was a dramatically-reduced risk of the troubled site catching fire again and further reinforcement that Jeff Kroeker and company had made the right decision in moving into the processing and recycling arena.

SOME GROWING PAINS

For 24 years, Kroeker Inc. Demolition & Environmental Contractors has been providing California’s central valley and surrounding areas with a solid list of services–everything from concrete cutting and core drilling, interior selective demolition, complete demolition, site clearing and more.

According to Jeff Kroeker, the firm’s general manager and son of its founder, as the company grew, so, too, did its costs and headaches for disposal of the materials it generated.

“For most of our existence, disposal of wood waste from our land clearing jobs and larger demolition projects has been subcontracted to a local grinding company,” says Jeff. “However, we eventually reached a point where it made more sense for us to look at doing that Facet of the operation ourselves. Not only were the costs getting prohibitive, the subcontractors were often so busy that we were unable to coordinate our needs with their schedules.”

TAKING ON THE FORT

Kroeker says that in late 2002, after some extensive research, the company chose to buy a Model 1300 tub grinder from Morbark Inc., Win n, Mich., to begin equipping itself for such jobs. Since the machine’s purchase, Kroeker Inc. has been called upon it to handle some demanding, high-profile projects, and the grinder has played a key role in each.

“We won the bid to take down 352 houses on 150 acres of Fort Ord, Calif., an area that is being cleared for commercial development,” notes Jeff. “Our portion of the project lasted five months, and though the houses themselves were concrete, the interiors were largely wood, which generated huge amounts of wood debris. At the same time, we were also handling the land clearing aspect of the job, so we had wood waste from there as well.” Jeff credits the company’s large tub grinder as a critical operations component. “There’s no denying our tub grinder was a real asset to the job’s success. We chose the 1000 hp Model 1300 from Morbark because it offers both power and portability. In fact, it is the largest unit you can legally move around in California without dismantling, and we benefited from that.”

Because they were able to take the tub grinder to the site, transportation costs for the debris were essentially eliminated. Jeff adds that, because it is self-loading, the 1300 also helped by freeing up a piece of equipment, such as a loader or excavator, that might otherwise have to be dedicated to feeding the grinder.

“Simply put, there was nothing at that site–in terms of trees and wood waste–that the grinder couldn’t do,” Jeff remarks. “To handle the roots that were generated, Steve Johnson, Morbark’s northern California representative, set us up with a Morbark 737 trommel screen. Once at the site, it was put to work screening out the dirt, leaving us with wood that could be recycled as mulch and dirt that was used for grading on site. It was just an excellent project.”

ONGOING EFFORT

Though the rationale for purchasing the tub grinder was based on its ability to perform, the logic of that decision, says Jeff, has been borne out as much by Morbark’s after-sale support as by the equipment itself.

“Steve Johnson has been extremely helpful to us in a number of respects,” he remarks. “Since the outset, not only has he ensured that the equipment he sold us was working at its best, he also has played a big role in helping us promote our grinding operation. Because we are, in a sense, new to this part of the business, letting people know that we have a machine available and have the capability to do their work is important. Steve has helped make that happen for us.”

In addition, he says, Johnson is helping Kroeker’s team optimize the grinder’s capabilities that will, in turn, allow the company to create a different kind of chip and further expand its product offerings.

“Currently we create a 2-inch product that we sell to landscapers, nurseries and a nearby co-gen plant,” says Jeff. “However, with the different size product, several new markets will be opening, both for mulch and for a compost product.”

ADDING SHEAR POWER

Because so much of Kroeker’s grinding operation is mobile, the firm is continually confronted with different types of materials that, without being pre-processed, would challenge even the large tub grinder’s capabilities. To alleviate such situations, Kroeker, again at the suggestion of Morbark’s Steve Johnson, added a wood shear to its processing arsenal. The result, says Kroeker, has been impressive.

“The product is a Model 60 Talon Shear, also from Morbark, and we have it mounted on a Caterpillar 330 excavator,” Jeff comments. “Our primary reason for getting the shear was to address a problem we have here in the valley: dealing with Eucalyptus trees.

Jeff goes on to describe one recent job. “We recently did a job for the City of Fresno at Roeding Park that called for the removal of a number of huge eucalyptus trees. Some of these dated back to the 1800s and measured better than 15 feet around. Our chain saws had a maximum cut of only 48 inches, but Steve felt confident that the Talon Shear would work, so we mounted it and did t he job,” Jeff recalls. “The Talon shear was excellent both for processing trees that were already toppled and, with the extra reach afforded by the third-member mount, for cutting branches from the top down. That tool made a potentially troublesome project go smoothly. And, because we are one of only a few companies on the West Coast to have a shear like this, it affords us another advantage over the competition.”

CONCRETE SOLUTIONS

In addition to processing wood waste, Kroeker Demolition has adapted to process and recycle a broad range of C&D materials, including concrete and asphalt.

A Model 1400 crushing plant from Eagle Crusher Co. Inc., Gallon, Ohio, handles concrete debris, turning it into a 3/4-inch Class 2 base rock. The processing unit also played a large role in the Fort Ord job.

“The Eagle 1400 is a portable plant as well, and at the Fort Ord site it processed better than 108,000 tons of material,” notes Jeff. “It’s a well-built, solid performer–a benchmark for all of our equipment.”

Jeff is not shy about crediting key equipment suppliers for the health and growth of his company. “We feel we’ve become the company we are today largely through the efforts of our people and the performance of the tools we’ve chosen and, taking that a step further, getting the support we need for that equipment,” he states.

“Steve Johnson and the people at Morbark have always gone to great lengths to ensure our satisfaction,” he continues. “Here’s a case in point: A little while back we had some work that needed to be done on the grinder’s clutch. Because it was a warranty issue, we notified Morbark. They had someone out here that same day and we were back up and running the next morning. You just can’t put a dollar value on that kind of service.”

This story was submitted by the author on behalf of Morbark Inc., Winn, Mich.

COPYRIGHT 2004 G.I.E. Media, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group