Managing challenges

'C&DR' Managing Editor Bob Gaetjens outlines how maintaining equipment and keeping a workforce happy amid inflation and supply chain challenges can create better outcomes for contractors and recyclers.

Low water levels on the Mississippi River have posed challenges for barges that are transporting heavy equipment and materials.

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division voted down the tentative agreement between national rail operators and unions brokered in September by President Joe Biden, raising concerns about the viability of rail transport. Billy Johnson, chief lobbyist at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Washington, previously told the Recycling Today Media Group that rejection of the rail deal could create problems for supply chains and the economy.

In addition to those transportation concerns, trucking presents its own challenges. In an Oct. 18 Data Digest email, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Chief Economist Ken Simonson says diesel prices rose 50 cents over the previous two weeks to about $5.34 per gallon, an increase of $1.67 from the same time last year.

With continuing high interest rates and disruptions in the supply chain, now might not be the best time to buy new equipment. The key to keeping a company’s existing machines and tools operating is properly maintaining them.

Servicing complex machines and attachments requires a plan and a disciplined team. In our article “Maintaining an attachment,” Rob Williams, operations manager at Alta Equipment’s store in Oakwood Village, Ohio, shares tips on how to best maintain various excavator attachments.

Firms that don’t maintain their equipment could face long wait times for new equipment and parts, he says. Replacement parts for attachments could take months to arrive, potentially handicapping contractors or recyclers facing a tight timeline.

Another aspect of maintaining equipment is using it as intended. In the article “The right tools for the job,” Jeff Keeling, vice president of sales and marketing at Monroe, Washington-based Brokk Inc., shares insights into the best uses for various robotic demolition equipment. Keeling says using robots to access tight spaces or lofty locations is smart because it helps to maintain employee safety.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional workforce challenges, keeping workers safe and happy is becoming increasingly important.

Companies that have managed those challenges could find themselves featured on our 2022 Largest Demolition Contractors List.

Since our last publication of the list in 2021, the construction and demolition (C&D) industry has continued to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic slowdown that came with it. Restaurants, retailers and other businesses have increased pay to attract workers, and those increases seem to be pushing pay higher in the construction and demolition industries, Simonson says. From September 2021 to September 2022, pay for nonsupervisory construction positions has increased by 6.8 percent, which he says is “really a steep jump from a couple of years ago.”

Congratulations to all the firms that have made it onto our list and that have continued to excel in the face of these challenges, and good luck to all companies in the coming year.

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