Fit for the Gods: Hercules Stays Strong After Fifty Years in Massachusetts

Mon June 16, 2014 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams


Hercules Building Wrecking Company Inc. of Brockton and East Taunton, Mass., is celebrating 50 years in operation this year and, as its name implies, the firm has torn down some of the most unusual buildings in Massachusetts.
Hercules Building Wrecking Company Inc. of Brockton and East Taunton, Mass., is celebrating 50 years in operation this year and, as its name implies, the firm has torn down some of the most unusual buildings in Massachusetts.
Hercules Building Wrecking Company Inc. of Brockton and East Taunton, Mass., is celebrating 50 years in operation this year and, as its name implies, the firm has torn down some of the most unusual buildings in Massachusetts. More recent projects have included the South Main Street Church in Brockton. More recent projects have included the South Main Street Church in Brockton.

Hercules Building Wrecking Company Inc. of Brockton and East Taunton, Mass., is celebrating 50 years in operation this year and, as its name implies, the firm has torn down some of the most unusual buildings in Massachusetts. The Hercules’ motto is, “Demolishing the past to make clear paths for a better future.”

Hercules was founded in 1964 by Duke (Harold) Monsini Sr. who, at age 73, is still on the job every day handling office operations while his son, Hal Monsini, supervises site work in all of its technical aspects. Hal was born the same year Hercules was.

From Duke to Hercules

Duke started completing small demolition jobs by hand, using his only piece of equipment, an old dump truck. Hercules was incorporated in 1973 and is capable of all types of demolition, specializing in total demolition, selective demolition, gut outs, debris removal, concrete crushing/breaking and offer roll-off container service.

No task is too large or small for the mighty Hercules.

“My Dad is the original owner. I’m his oldest son; I’m the second generation. It has been quite an interesting business,” said Hal Monsini, who also works with his brother and sister. “Dad is 73. He’s in here every day, does the estimating and handles the insurances, the day-to-day business. He’ll never retire.

“He started out with one dump truck and himself,” said Monsini. “He was one of 12 kids. When he got out of the service in Quincy, he worked briefly for another company and thought, ’Why make money for him, when I can make money for myself?’ He decided to venture out and started his own company.”

Like his company’s namesake, the legendary Greek strongman, Duke Monsini remains just about the strongest man his son has known. He gave his son Hal an invaluable education from a young age.

“I read your newspaper [CEG] and I really enjoy the stories about the second generation learning machines at their father’s knee,” said Monsini. “That was me when I was a kid. I couldn’t get enough of the backhoes, the bulldozers, the cranes. I was always in the machines with him, learning. I was always in the machinery, tinkering around. But it’s quite different today, with all the regulations, the environmental controls and insurances.”

The Monsini construction family line goes back even farther than 50 years.

“My Dad worked for Duane Wrecking in Boston with his father and five brothers. It was owned by John J. Duane. At the time, it was the biggest wrecking company on the East Coast. My father basically worked there summers, and when he was out of school. He went from high school directly to the service, but my grandfather, had more of the stories,” said Monsini. “They worked on the West End of Boston and the Central Artery in the 1950s [the main highways that lead to and from Boston]. They did a lot of the demolition out there in order to build the original Central Artery. My God, there were quite a few stories there, kicking around, between my father, my uncles and my grandfather.”

The Super Bowl and Coca-Cola

Hercules itself has been involved with some of the more famous demolitions and implosions of noteworthy buildings in the state.

One of the most fascinating was in January 1985 and involved a live broadcast during The Super Bowl.

“We did the implosion of a 27-story parking garage for International Place in Boston. That was probably one of our biggest jobs. We worked with the Duane Corporation, which was a subsidiary of Duane Company, started by John Duane’s son,” said Monsini. “We worked alongside his company and actually tore down a couple of city blocks in downtown Boston. We brought down several buildings, but, by far, the biggest was the parking garage. We did this also with a company in Maryland called Controlled Demolition Inc., CDI for short.

“They came in and they drilled holes in columns, then they cabled off those columns, and, on Super Bowl Sunday, 1985, Miami Dolphins versus the San Francisco 49ers. They put up big banners on the building that said, ’Boston is Booming!’ And, at the Super Bowl, at halftime, CBS showed the parking garage getting imploded. Viewers saw the garage implode. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but they did it.”

Another noted Hercules project years ago was a demolition along the Massachusetts Turnpike which resulted in the removal of a landmark Coca-Cola sign that sat in a large, three-cornered spike above the state East-West, mid-central highway.

“The sign on the Mass. Pike was over the old Coca-Cola bottling plant, said Monsini. It was a three-sided sign that had to be two stories tall by 100 feet long. They were like the big CITGO sign in Kenmore Square, that famous,” said Monsini. “There were actually three of them on top of the buildings. We took them down and stored them in a chained yard along the Mass. Pike. They were supposed to be reused, but I don’t know what happened to them. That’s another story. With no one paying attention any longer, they were gone.”

Hercules also was involved in the demolition of two other famous local landmarks; the Belmont Hotel in West Harwich on Cape Cod, and the demolition of the 11-acre Zayre’s Warehouse for Campanelli Corp.

These days, Hercules completes work for private owners, contractors, businesses and municipalities. The firm carries all necessary insurance, and is bonded and is certified through the Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM). Behind every job, with founder Duke, operations manager Hal, eight full-time employees and various sub-contractors at the ready, there is a talented team of educated professionals dedicated to complete each job efficiently, neatly and to the highest possible standards.

All operators and laborers are OSHA certified and Hazmat trained. The company offers total demolition, selective demolition, interior gut outs, scrapping, excavation, debris removal, concrete crushing, asbestos abatement, environmental cleanup and other related services. They also offer roll out container services and a variety of equipment rentals.

Great Finds, Grim Finds

Hercules Building Wrecking Co. has diversified in unusual ways, not only in services, but with many members of the Monsini family working summers and during other times. The company also evolved and streamlined, what Hall calls, “a kind of downsizing.”

“Many family members have worked at Hercules over the years. In the 1980s, Hercules was a large company, and employed many of Duke’s brothers, and nephews. Lots of nephews interned here over the summer and during school vacations when Hercules had a salvage yard,” said Monsini. “We incorporated in 1973, started out small, and built up. Over the years, with the recessions we had, we kind of downsized, doing mainly what we know, demolition. In summer, several relatives, cousins, come out and earn a few dollars, here and there. Most of our family has passed through our company on the way to college.”

More recent projects have included the Fairview Elementary School site in Fairhaven; Black Rock House in Cohasset; the South Main Street Church in Brockton; the Foot Joy factory in Brockton; a glass manufacturing company in Mansfield; Happy Bear Corner in Brockton; Stonehill College in Easton; and Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., as well as smaller building sites throughout the region.

While at various job sites, Monsini found some interesting items — plenty of old coins and antiques, among them.

“I’ve never found a big horde, nothing extra special, but some real interesting coins,” Monsini said. “I once found money from the 1700s from behind a wall. It was made of paper, and says one or two cents on it, not dollars. I haven’t had them appraised yet.”

Some of his discoveries were tragic.

“We’ve had to help the recovery of missing persons in fires. We’ve had numerous ones, but the hotel fire in Brockton years ago, was the worst,” said Monsini. “Four or five people were missing in the fire and our job is to go in and take the building down and still allow the fire department to check the debris.

“So, we take the building, drop it in the street,” Monsini said. “They take it piece by piece, where they sift through it, looking for bodies or body parts. They did find three in there. I was a young man at the time. It was, probably, the most difficult thing I have ever done.”

Safety and communication are paramount in all jobs. For such efforts, Hercules has been given several safety awards. The company’s half-century in the industry sparks word-of-mouth referrals and testimonies from contractors and clients who use them on a regular basis.

There is a long-standing relationship between Testa Corp. of Lynnfield and Hercules. Recently, Hercules worked with Testa Corp. on the demolition of Whitman Hanson High School, as well as many smaller projects. They are currently helping to renovate 900 housing units in Boston.

In the past, Hercules has collaborated with many other companies including:

• Duane Corporation of Boston

• P&K Contracting of Randolph

• Carney Brothers of Raynham

Representatives of Jordan’s Furniture of Taunton have high praise for the firm.

“Hercules Building Wrecking Company is the only demolition company we call. They are professional and very accommodating.”

“Hercules is an awesome company. They are my one and only call,” said representatives of Hawkeye Fence of Abington.

Issues, Causes and Anniversaries

“But the industry has become much more complicated, said Monsini. “You have to keep current on all environmental concerns. It is a much longer process. It has changed dramatically. Everything we do now is geared toward the environment. There are asbestos concerns, lead paint concerns, issues with the possibility of contaminated soils. Everything is checked and studied and tested before we actually do a demolition job.”

But some jobs remain modest and intimate. Hercules likes to help out local charities, school programs and programs for people with disabilities. One is very dear to Hal’s heart.

“My sister, who works with us, has a son with autism. We try and do several things over the years to help kids with autism whether that is a fund-raiser or something else,” Monsini said. “That cause is very big to us over here.”

Hercules Building Wrecking Company Inc. is celebrating its 50th anniversary, but no party is planned.

“We celebrate our anniversary by committing to working hard in the upcoming year. We have lasted so long in this business because we have been able to keep our costs low, and by downsizing before the economy took a big hit,” said Monsini.

And of course, there is the sheer joy in imploding things legally.

“The fun part of our work is demolition. There’s nothing like it. Who doesn’t like to smash or break things?” said Monsini. “Let me tell you a quick story. At one job, there was an 80-year-old man watching me. We do the whole job and he just watches. At the end, he asks me, ’What are you going to do with that pane glass window?’ I said, ’We are going to get rid of it, why?’ He said, ’I want to throw a brick through it.’ He was 80. I don’t think he had ever done a bad thing in his life. I gave him the brick and he smashed the window. You never saw a guy so happy in his life, to get out his aggressions. He said it was the best thing he had ever done. That’s the part of my job I like, to smash things and build them up again.”

For more information, visit www.herculesdemolition.com or call 508/558-3390 or 508/588-3394.