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Asphalt Paving of Shelby Tests Blaw-Knox Prototype Paver

Thu July 06, 2023 - Southeast Edition #14
Eric Olson


Asphalt Paving of Shelby’s Blaw-Knox PF7110C at work on Highway 74 in Kings Mountain, N.C.
Asphalt Paving of Shelby’s Blaw-Knox PF7110C at work on Highway 74 in Kings Mountain, N.C.
Asphalt Paving of Shelby’s Blaw-Knox PF7110C at work on Highway 74 in Kings Mountain, N.C. On hand to provide assistance if needed (L-R) are Raymond Burn of Blaw-Knox; Terry Thompson, service technician of ASCENDUM Machinery; and Chance Harwood, ASCENDUM sales representative. Don Dedmon Jr. (L) and Don Dedmon Sr. pose for a photo while on their Highway 74 resurfacing project in Kings Mountain, N.C. Asphalt Paving of Shelby likes the ease of operation of the Blaw-Knox PF 7110C paver.

For Don Dedmon Jr., and his father, Don Sr., the reasons to choose — and continue to run — Blaw-Knox asphalt paving equipment in their business have always come down to two things: price and reliability.

The duo operates Asphalt Paving of Shelby, in the North Carolina town west of Charlotte. For years, they have come to rely on the reasonably-priced and durable line of Blaw-Knox road and highway products to keep the company in business for nearly 60 years.

At a current job site near Shelby, Asphalt Paving recently was asked to product test a prototype Blaw-Knox PF-7100C tracked paver by the manufacturer and the paving contractor's equipment dealer, Concord-based ASCENDUM Machinery.

The maker's new 7100C series of pavers include the legacy Cummins engines that Blaw-Knox started with years ago and has returned to using after Genco Industries' acquisition of Blaw-Knox from Volvo in 2020.

On hand to provide assistance if needed (L-R) are Raymond Burn of Blaw-Knox; Terry Thompson, service technician of ASCENDUM Machinery; and Chance Harwood, ASCENDUM sales representative.

Ray Burn, a sales and field technical support specialist of Blaw-Knox, was on hand at the nighttime project site to provide his expertise as Asphalt Paving put the paver through its paces.

"This machine is a 7000C-series paver finisher, and the Cummins engines are the most preferred among contractors in the U.S.," he said.

ASCENDUM's Chance Harwood said Asphalt Paving prefers Blaw-Knox because, among other reasons, it receives strong dealer support, and the Dedmons already own an older 7110 paver that has proven to be highly successful for them.

Plus, he noted, the Dedmons count themselves among those that love how the Cummins engines boost the performance of their pavers.

"Blaw-Knox once ruled in North Carolina because of their equipment, and soon everything out here is going to have a Cummins engine on it," added Don Dedmon Jr., who has worked behind pavers for 30 years.

His father, a paving contractor since the 1960s and one of the founders of Asphalt Paving of Shelby, simply believes the Blaw-Knox models are the best pavers he has ever used.

"I seldom get on the back of them anymore, but to me they were always the simplest machines to run," he said. "They weren't complicated, and you could train someone to run one of them in just a couple of days."

The Dedmons' comments are affirmation of what Blaw-Knox's engineering teams have worked to accomplish to make their products more attractive to contractors.

"At Blaw-Knox, even though we use all the latest technology, we also try to keep it as simple as possible so the contractor can maintain the machine and service it by purchasing individual components instead of big items, which cost a lot of money," said Ray Burn.

U.S. 74 Bypass Resurfacing Part of Huge Effort

Asphalt Paving of Shelby's crews are currently using their Blaw-Knox pavers to resurface a portion of the U.S. Highway 74 Shelby Bypass, which runs through Cleveland County, for the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).

The $284 million, 18.5-mi.-long project is on an important highway linking the Tarheel State cities of Asheville, Charlotte and Wilmington — from the mountains to the sea.

The younger Dedmon said his company's work on the U.S. 74 Bypass this year is to pave a short section of on- and off-ramps to the four-lane highway, one of three such projects, or maps, that Asphalt Paving has taken on.

"We bid on this resurfacing contract last year and it will be due later in 2023," he said. "This is Map 2, with Map 1, which we completed last year, being west of here to the Rutherford County line. We have two more stretches to do from here east to Interstate 85. Each of them is about 10,000-ft.-long, and the I-85/U.S. 74 interchange is 3.5-mi.-long for each lane."

Bypass Project Tailor-Made for Blaw-Knox Pavers

As a typical highway-class project, the Shelby-area resurfacing effort is exactly what the Blaw-Knox pavers were made for, and, in the end, should provide the manufacturer and the contractor with an excellent assessment of the 7110C's abilities.

"Normally, when he is paving, a contractor is going to lay 2.5 to 3 inches of uncompacted asphalt that will roll down to a depth of 2.25 inches," Ray Burn said when asked about asphalt base thickness. "Under hydraulics, this one will go from paving widths of 10 to 20 feet wide."

The actual slip load along the U.S. 74 job site that day had a width of 19-ft.-6 in., he added, "so at some point we will be at the maximum width of this screed."

Blaw-Knox's 7110C's paving width and the amount of asphalt density it gives its owner has already won over Don Dedmon Jr., who said he loves how far he can expand the paver's Ultimat screed.

While all paving professionals want the best in reliability and production from their machines, Burn, a native of the United Kingdom, said another of their biggest wants is outstanding rideability.

"Americans like the ride to be nice and smooth, and we have the tools on this machine to give the best control of the asphalt volume to the front of the screed to achieve that smoothness through the paver's built-in tunnels to contain the mix."

Blaw-Knox Paves Way to Smarter Telematics

Other features on the newest Blaw-Knox models include an array of built-in safety devices, sufficient horsepower to handle any job, plus the latest telematics to allow the contractor to check on how well the machine is running from the comfort of an office computer. At the same time, the technology also opens a window on the machine's performance to both ASCENDUM and Blaw-Knox.

"The manufacturer's telematics offer a system called Blaw-Knox Konnect that a contractor can set up around the job site so that he or she will get an alert if the Blaw-Knox paver unexpectedly leaves the site," Harwood said. "It also keeps tabs on the machine's fuel consumption and how many hours it has run."

Of course, if there are issues with the paver itself and its ability to work, Terry Thompson, an ASCENDUM field technician, said his company will quickly dispatch service to where a breakdown has occurred, no matter where it is or the time of day.

"We are out here at 8 o'clock tonight and we will stay as long as we are needed," he said. "It is normal for us to do so to keep our customers up and running."

That kind of dedication to product support is precisely what makes Thompson and his colleagues so popular among ASCENDUM's customers.

"ASCENDUM's attention to us is great, and I love Terry because I can call him, and he will lead me through a problem I'm having with a paver right over the phone," said Dedmon Jr. "If he can't, he will send someone to where we are working to fix the issue. ASCENDUM has always exceeded my expectations."

Success Comes to Paving Firm

Don Dedmon Jr. (L) and Don Dedmon Sr. pose for a photo while on their Highway 74 resurfacing project in Kings Mountain, N.C.

Asphalt Paving of Shelby had its beginnings in 1963, when Don Dedmon Sr.'s father formed his own start-up company to pave driveways.

"He had been in the concrete business with his father, brothers and other family members," Dedmon Jr. said. "But, after a while, he decided he wanted to do something else. He began by buying his asphalt from a contractor that had a plant here in Kings Mountain."

Two years later, Don Sr.'s father accepted an offer from a pair of brothers who were competitors of his in the concrete business to partner up in buying an asphalt plant.

"They told him, ‘You run it and own 51 percent, and we will be silent partners,' and that is what they did. Later, when each of them passed away, my family bought their part of the business, and my son and I still own it today."

The first highway job that Asphalt Paving of Shelby got was as a subcontractor on a new bridge project in 1968, according to Dedmon Sr. At that work site, its engineering plans called for the prime contractor to install the bridge, followed by Dedmon's people doing the tie-ins for the structure, where they applied new asphalt to the road to match the level of the bridge's pavement.

By accepting bids on NCDOT projects, though, Dedmon Jr. said the family company was forced to make a big decision, one that they knew could require larger cash outlays.

"We had to make a choice whether we wanted to stick with the state highway work because if so, we would need to buy bigger equipment, or work only on private projects," he said. "Now, I would say that 90 percent of our work is for NCDOT."

But they have had large private projects, too.

"The biggest one we did was in 2000 when we worked on the Walmart distribution center west of Shelby where we placed about 150,000 tons of stone and 70,000 tons of asphalt," said Dedmon Sr.

It was just one in a long list of resurfacing projects that Asphalt Paving of Shelby has performed over the past 55 years that have kept the family company moving along an upward slope to success. CEG

(All photographs in this article are Copyright 2023 Construction Equipment Guide. All Rights Reserved.)


Eric Olson

A writer and contributing editor for CEG since 2008, Eric Olson has worked in the business for more than 40 years.

Olson grew up in the small town of Lenoir, NC in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he began covering sports for the local newspaper at age 18. He continued to do that for several other dailies in the area while in college at Appalachian State University. Following his graduation, he moved on to gain experience at two other publications before becoming a real estate and special features writer and editor at the Winston-Salem Journal for 10 years. Since 1999 he has worked as a corporate media liaison and freelance writer, in addition to his time at CEG.

He and his wife, Tara, have been married for 33 years and are the parents of two grown and successful daughters. His hobbies include collecting history books, watching his beloved Green Bay Packers and caring for his three dogs and one cat.


Read more from Eric Olson here.





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