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Athletic Field Services and Ehrbar Tear Up Some Turf

Thu September 08, 2005 - Northeast Edition
Kate Zanoni



Years ago, Jon Sweeney, president of Athletic Field Services, turned his love for sports into a career when he constructed his first ballpark for St. Luke’s High School in New Canaan, CT. By the completion of that first job, he knew that he had found his niche.

Kickoff

Recently, Sweeney returned to the field where his dream job began when he was named to build St. Luke’s new football field. To start, he removed the old turf. Then he blasted out a shelf of solid rock to increase the width of the field, graded and excavated the surface and installed artificial turf.

Approximately 10,000 yds. (9,144 m) of material was moved on site. The 15-ft. (4.6 m) high embankment of rock was cut in several feet and was blasted out by an area drilling and blasting contractor.

After the rock was blasted, Sweeney broke up the remains with a hammer. The debris was used as a base material and as rip rap on site.

According to Sweeney, the biggest challenge of the project was the tight turnaround time. He began construction on the field in early May and had a July 4 deadline. However, the project is still a work-in-progress and needs to be complete before mid-August, when St. Luke’s football practice is set to commence.

To ensure that the field will be ready for the team’s end-of-summer conditioning program, Athletic Field Services have been working six days a week to complete the job.

Special Teams

Sweeney owns several pieces of construction equipment that he purchased from the Edward Ehrbar Company. Among his machines is a Komatsu D39E dozer, which is equipped with AGL laser technology.

His Komatsu dozer’s laser technology gives Sweeney the capability to maintain a one-quarter in. (.6 cm) grade tolerance per 300 ft. (91.4 m), which is necessary on athletic field jobs.

A Komatsu WA200PT loader equipped with a toolcarrier also is a member of Sweeney’s team of iron. Because the tool carrier option allows Athletic Field Services to address a larger variety of projects, this machine has been a true moneymaker for Sweeney.

“We use this loader year round,” said Sweeney. “I purchased a 12-foot snow pusher for it that has given the loader year-round applications.”

The presence of the loader on site has helped execute a variety of tasks and also has cut his job time approximately in half.

“On this job site, it moved 1,800 yards of materials in just four days,” said Sweeney.

The loader’s operators also are fond of the machine and enjoy its special features. Besides its clear visibility, the WA200 offers operators entertainment and comfort with an AM/FM radio and air-conditioning.

“Quite frankly, our Komatsu loader has turned out to be more useful than we had even anticipated,” added Sweeney.

’Go-To Guys’

As Sweeney’s business has grown, he has used the Edward Ehrbar Company in a variety of ways. When Athletic Field Services was starting out, Sweeney had to rent equipment and discovered that Edward Ehrbar was a great source for reliable rental pieces and product support.

“It was always a pleasure to rent from Ehrbar,” said Sweeney. “The machines we received from them were nearly new and in great running order.”

Because Athletic Field Services has succeeded in the construction industry, Sweeney has moved toward equipment purchase. He acknowledged Sales Representative Don Stans for his responsiveness.

“He keeps us abreast of new product development and works with us to put purchase packages together,” said Sweeney. “Ehrbar is located only 20 minutes away from us and their service response time is always spectacular.”

Through the company’s Pulse Program, Edward Ehrbar services Sweeney’s Komatsus on the job site approximately every 150 hours.

Anthony Olivieri, product support sales manager of Edward Ehrbar, oversees the operation of the Pulse Program by analyzing the equipment usage and needs of each customer who chooses to use the program.

To satisfy customers, Edward Ehrbar custom designs an on-site service schedule.

“We realize that a running machine is the only machine that is good at all to the customer,” said Olivieri. “Our Pulse Program was put in place to assure customers years of trouble-free service.”

With each visit, all applicable fluids in the machine are sampled and tested. Any fluids running low are changed accordingly.

Fluid testing allows Edward Ehrbar to keep a database of results and track wear trends. Information from the fluid testing often will identify a problem with the machine before it has had the opportunity to do any damage.

“Each one of our trucks is equipped with a waste oil recovery system so that no fluids are left behind,” added Olivieri.

Team MVP

One of Sweeney’s roles on an athletic field job site is dozer operator. Therefore, he keeps dozers close to his heart and speaks most highly of these machines.

“The Komatsu dozers are the best that I’ve ever operated,” he said. “The dozers are [so] stable and the hydrostatic operation makes machine [maneuverability] so easy. To be honest, anyone could do it.”

According to Sweeney, the cab is incredibly comfortable and offers the best visibility of any machine he has operated.

Team Stats

• Besides the loader, Sweeney also has a D61EX dozer on rent and owns a Komatsu PC78MR excavator with a swing boom.

• The St. Luke’s project cost approximately $1 million and nearly 4,500 yds. (4,115 m) of material has been blasted for the new football field.

Headed for the Big Game

According to Sweeney, Athletic Field Services is unique when compared with other companies.

“We are one of the very few companies in the industry that only build athletic fields,” said Sweeney.

The company constructs both grass and artificial turf arenas and is the dealer of Forever Green Athletic Fields Inc. — one of the most sought after names in artificial turf surfaces. CEG