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Fri October 14, 2011 - Southeast Edition
September 2009 brought unmercifully heavy rain to Austell, Ga., causing widespread flooding and other storm-related damage throughout the city.
More than 700 homes were flooded by the 21 inches of rain that fell, many of which were so severely damaged that they floated off their foundations and became ruins in a very short space of time. Now the demolition and cleanup of the houses that couldn’t be salvaged has begun.
Southern Demolition & Environmental, Atlanta, is currently working towards completion of the demolition of nine of the 19 homes that the city of Austell, Ga., has contracted to be removed. Southern Demolition’s President, Gina Ragsdale, stated that the nine homes they have contracted with the city to remove are in the same neighborhood which makes it convenient for equipment moves. She went on to say that overall, “the city of Austell has been a real pleasure to work with.”
Gina’s husband, Matt Ragsdale, the company’s operations manager, handles all the logistics and project coordination and the majority amount of the bidding process.
The Ragsdales try to keep the company’s projects as “green” as possible, but for this one, Matt Ragsdale stated, “unfortunately the total percentage of recyclable product from these flooded structures is rather low, probably around 15 to 20 percent. Since the homes were built in the late 1950s and early 60s most required asbestos abatement and were under water for some time so there wasn’t a lot that could be recycled.”
The machine of choice for the demolition projects, and a machine that Southern Demolition has rented many times in the past, is a pink Volvo EC140B excavator from Volvo Rents in Duluth, Ga. It’s the “Digging for the Cure” machine and a portion of the rental fee is donated to the Susan G. Komen For the Cure organization.
The machine, equipped with a 1.75 cu. yds. (1.3 cu m) Geith bucket and Solesbee’s thumb, is precisely what Southern Demolition needs to make quick work of home demolition.
“We request the rental of this particular machine a lot,” said Ragsdale. “The 140 is the perfect size for residential home demolition. We also like it because we do a lot of work in downtown Atlanta and for that we need a machine that can fit into tight spaces. It moves material well and the reach of the machine is close to that of a 210 sized machine. We love it because it’s strong and burns less fuel than the larger machines used in demolition.
“We really like the fact that a portion of our rental money goes to fund breast cancer awareness and prevention, but in addition to that, having a pink machine really draws a lot of attention and turns heads. We like that too. We’re close with Volvo Rents and our rental coordinator, Todd Caskey, at the Duluth location,” he added.
Caskey commented that the company “is a very charitable-minded organization. The culture of giving back runs deep at all Volvo Rents locations through our ’Color For A Cause’ public service program, in which a machine is painted in a particular color scheme to support a worthy organization with a portion of the rental proceeds going to that charity.
“Our Volvo EC140B is painted pink and 10 percent of the rental proceeds of the machine go to the Susan G. Komen For the Cure organization. Starting its fourth year in service as a rental unit, the pink EC140B has generated thousands of dollars for Susan G. Komen For the Cure,” stated Caskey.
Renting a machine to support a good cause, a changing business model and good old hard work have helped Southern Demolition see year after year of growth.
“We’ve grown every year — even during this recession period. We’ve been fortunate. Years ago, we used to do projects for builders and developers where they had the need for demolition to make way for new houses and other structures. When the economy turned, we shifted towards obtaining contracts with property owners of derelict structures that needed to be torn down. We help the property owner to dispose of a structure prior to potential code enforcement violations. During this economic downturn, there’s an abundance of vacant properties due to foreclosures. The banks, lending institutions and owners don’t want to put a lot of money into fixing them up, and the structure can become a liability. Usually, the bank would prefer to wipe the property clean for a simple future land sale,” said Ragsdale.
Natural disasters, like floods and tornadoes, and structural fires have increased Southern Demolition’s business.
“As money gets tight, people look for alternative ways to keep their homes and apartments warm, a lot of times in careless ways,”?stated Ragsdale. “Burned structures are a direct result of low-cost but unsafe heating means in homes and apartment complexes, and the numbers of fires is increasing. Ultimately the structure ends up being a demolition contract. We’re actually booked with demolition jobs through the end of the year.
“As a Georgia licensed asbestos abatement contractor, we’re able to perform survey, removal and abatement work for asbestos products. When all is cleared, we can proceed with the demolition. We’re basically a ’turn-key’ demolition contractor that can deal with the environmental aspects of testing, abatement if necessary, perform the entire demolition and finish the job with soil stabilization. It can be a sizable cost benefit to our customer to have it all done by one company and using one company makes the process a lot smoother too. In addition, we are DBE/WBE certified with the Georgia Department of Transportation,” Ragsdale concluded. CEG