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Detroit's Adamo Demolition Company

Mon March 13, 2017 - National Edition #5
Irwin Rapoport

Alta Equipment technicians repair Adamo equipment.
Alta Equipment technicians repair Adamo equipment.
Alta Equipment technicians repair Adamo equipment. Alta Equipment technicians repair Adamo equipment.

Detroit's Adamo Demolition Company, which has demolished more than 2,600 homes and 100 apartment buildings and schools in Detroit since 2014, has depended upon its two equipment dealers — Michigan CAT and Alta Equipment — to look after the complete maintenance of its fleet since 2006.

The family owned firm, founded in 1964 by John T. Adamo Sr., has a fleet of more than 250 pieces of equipment.

“We've been dealing with Caterpillar since the inception of the company,” said Richard Adamo, president of the company, “and we started buying equipment from Alta five years ago. We mainly purchase equipment and rent as needed.”

The residential and building demolition work that Adamo is doing in Detroit is about 10 miles from its headquarters.

“We have an onsite labor agreement with Michigan CAT and Alta,” said Richard Adamo, “and their mechanics maintain our fleet. We had a maintenance staff, but we went away from that and moved towards the certified technicians from the dealerships to stay on top of all the changing trends with technology, updates on training and so on. This also helps with the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulations and new computer technologies.

“Going this route takes care of a couple of things,” he said. “The main thing is that it limits down time because you have a certified technician that diagnoses a problem. The mechanic can also communicate directly with the dealership, which is able to either supplement another technician to assist in the repair if necessary and be able to get the part sent directly as quickly as possible; and the dealership is also responsible for any warranty work or claims that may arise due to any misdiagnosis of the problem with the machine.”

For Adamo it is all about getting the equipment back into service rapidly and not having to worry about company-based mechanical staff making an error.

“This avoids you going back to your guy and saying 'you said it was the head gasket and it was only the head that was cracked,'” said Adamo. “This eliminates a lot of headaches and we can, with confidence and conviction, tell a customer — the majority of our work is for automotive industry and Fortune 500 companies — that our entire fleet, since 2006, has been maintained by certified dealership technicians.”

The company also handles projects outside of the Metro Detroit area, and because of its reciprocity agreements, mechanics do not have to be sent with the work crews.

“When we go out of state,” said Adamo, “our dealerships make a call to the dealerships in the area where we are working and they say 'one of our very good customers is coming your way, please afford him the same opportunity or at the very least, treat them as family and understand that they are a big-end customer of ours.' The local dealerships, we have found, are very attuned to that and when we have issues, they go into action and are very sensitive and concerned about limiting our down time.”

Adamo replaces about 10 vehicles on an annual basis.

“We replace our pickup trucks and office vehicles based on mileage, and on average we replace them at 175,000 miles,” said Al Penrod, Adamo Group Inc. equipment manager. “We replace our heavy equipment based on hours, and on average we replace heavy equipment at 13,000 hours. Key considerations for equipment purchases is reliability, dealer/factory support, price and longevity. In general, we update to the latest and greatest model we can get. We are firm believers in technology and embrace it.”

Adamo said the relationship with the dealerships is working out well.

“Mechanical equipment breaks down and the good side of our approach is that we are able to get somebody out there immediately to determine the type of repairs that are needed and if it's a long-term repair, to replace it until the repairs are completed.”

Greg Schneider, Michigan CAT's account representative, appreciates the long-term relationship with Adamo.

“The Adamo Demolition and Michigan CAT partnership starting with John Adamo Sr. and John Adamo Jr.,” he said, “and the legacy continuing with Richard Adamo has flourished because of the integrity of the Adamos and the reliability and commitment of Michigan CAT to the partnership. Both partners hold up their commitments and both have flourished together to be the leaders in their fields.

“When Adamo Demolition first tried Michigan CAT's On Site Service Tech Program in 2006, it became another lane in the business partnership,” he said. “Michigan CAT had provided onsite techs to many large industrial customers with large equipment fleets since the 1980s, so when the Adamo tried it, they were one of the first private independent contractors to implement the concept into their business model.”

Schnieder pointed out that Adamo appreciates the dealer-trained techs assisting with the management and maintenance of the company's Cat Equipment Fleet.

“We have had a few techs over the 11 years who specialize in maintaining demolition equipment and the attachments Adamo uses in their operations,” he said. “The onsite service techs treat Adamo's fleet as if it was theirs and their present onsite service specialist is working on his third year with Adamo Demolition.

“It takes a specially trained service tech to take on the demolition business,” he said, “and Adamo provides the daily machine maintenance challenges and Michigan CAT provides the maintenance solutions, which are performed by the trained onsite service technician. Michigan CAT provides on- line training for the onsite tech who is responsible for continuous factory training updates, which he is required to perform on-line to keep up with all changing new models which Adamo continually adds to their fleet. Adamo's onsite tech is constantly self-training himself about Adamo's newest Cat equipment so that he can be proactive when maintenance may be required. Advanced training for the tech is provided by Michigan CAT to assure the business partnership is strong and progressing forward.”

Alta Equipment, based in New Hudson, Mich., has been selling Volvo products since 2009.

“Customers want to know that their parts and service needs will be taken care of,” said Bruce Davis, Alta's sales manager. “Alta is focused and committed to making sure that all of Adamo equipment needs are met, including those of parts, service and sales. Alta has supplied Adamo with an onsite factory trained mechanic to make sure that everything is taken care of immediately.”

Davis said communication is key to the relationship between mechanics and Adamo equipment operators.

“It all starts with communication. We make sure that we are more proactive than reactive. We make sure that we stop and listen to what our customers have to say. Companies like ADC are the foundation of our business and we value their input. We mold our service plan around what they need.”

On the demolition project, Adamo has deployed nearly 45 vehicles and pieces of equipment. This includes Cat 329E, 324E and 320E excavators with hydraulic thumbs along with Volvo EC220, EC250 and EC300 excavators equipped the same way; Cat 973 and 963 track loaders; Cat D5K and D4K dozers; and a variety of trucks, tractors, trailers and miscellaneous equipment.

The wear and tear on this project is unique.

“In the big picture,” said Adamo, “excavators were designed to dig dirt and holes and in the worst scenario, put utility pipe in the ground. Most of our work is overhead, multiple stories above grade. The wear and tear is on the swing drives and the track motors, because we do a lot more travelling back and forth than does a standard digging contractor — we're doing something that requires a lot more mobility than is generally required.”

“Hydraulic lines are also getting clipped because you are working in a tight confine of a space,” he said. “A tree branch can damage a hydraulic line. The digging buckets are generally heavy/severe buckets, but we're digging through rough materials and through frost in the winter months and we're experiencing wear and tear on the teeth and the buckets themselves. Other than that, radiators and coolers get plugged up with dust from the demolition work and they'll blow them out with air or wash them out with a steam cleaner.”

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