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Georgia Contractor Grows With Help From Hills Machinery, Hitachi

Thu March 28, 2024 - Southeast Edition #7
Eric Olson - CEG CONTRIBUTING EDITOR


To get the equipment it needs to do jobs like the Rincon industrial park project, Pintail has come to rely on the Savannah branch of Hills Machinery.
CEG photo
To get the equipment it needs to do jobs like the Rincon industrial park project, Pintail has come to rely on the Savannah branch of Hills Machinery.
To get the equipment it needs to do jobs like the Rincon industrial park project, Pintail has come to rely on the Savannah branch of Hills Machinery.   (CEG photo) Pintail Site Preparation’s latest purchase from Hills was a Hitachi ZW180-6 wheel loader.   (CEG photo) Kevin Jackson Jr. (L) and Zachary Sforzo, both of Pintail Site Preparation LLC.   (CEG photo) Headquartered in Charleston, Hills Machinery has multiple dealerships across the two Carolinas and Virginia, but its Savannah location (seen here) is one of its newest.   (CEG photo)

With the construction of a $7.6 billion Hyundai electric vehicle and battery production plant now under way near Savannah, Ga., its top-tier component suppliers have also begun to look for both manufacturing and warehouse space to support the automaker's effort.

That has led to a new interest in nearby rural industrial parks set on large tracts of land with good road and rail line connections relatively close to the massive Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant, growing daily in the Bryan County town of Ellabell.

Several parks fit the bill, but one of the best positioned appears to be the Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub in the Effingham County town of Rincon, northeast of Savannah, and approximately 30 minutes north of the Hyundai project.

On Rincon's south side, crews with Pintail Site Preparation LLC have been working on site since November 2022 to excavate and prep approximately 85 acres of raw land at the industrial park to create warehouse pads for one of Hyundai's suppliers.

In business for four years, the Savannah-based contracting company specializes in design, planning, project management, site preparation and construction. The firm sports a management team made up of one veteran and two youthful building professionals.

CEG photo

Kevin Jackson Jr. (L) and Zachary Sforzo, both of Pintail Site Preparation LLC.

Zachary Sforzo, who serves as both a project manager and minority owner of Pintail, said his company does site preparatory and underground utility work, "meaning we do everything up to where the concrete floor is. We don't do any vertical construction."

At the Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub in December, Pintail worked on a warehouse pad that encompassed approximately 1 million sq. ft. The total amount of earth he and his crew were moving added up to between 100,000 and 200,000 cu. yds. of material, with the pad alone totaling about 86,000 cu. yds.

"We dug the two retention ponds in the front of the property first, which produced thousands of cubic yards of dirt that we then used to build that pad," Sforzo said. "There are actually three ponds, but the largest one in the front generated the most material to build the pad. Another pond was excavated in the back corner of the property."

Pintail also built up the pad's surrounding areas to serve as the truck courts and parking lots for that future warehouse, in addition to constructing all the wide avenues at the site.

"We are building the access roads now," one of which he said will go from McCall Road, which runs south and west of the town, "and we are getting ready to pave past one of the two train tracks [owned by CSX and Norfolk Southern]. Plus, there is another access road we are working on that will lead into the warehouse property to end at a cul-de-sac, and a roundabout will be installed."

Although Sforzo and Pintail are working to prepare 85 acres of the industrial park, he added that the total amount of land to be developed is closer to 3,000 acres — all in support of the Hyundai EV factory.

"As it continues to develop, we will do more and more work here in Rincon," Sforzo added.

Opportunity Knocks, Pintail Answers

Pintail Site Preparation was started in February 2020 by Kevin Jackson Jr., Ellis Skinner and Sforzo after each principal had gained experience working for other contractors.

Jackson, Pintail's majority owner, and Sforzo both worked for an environmental and industrial cleaning service in Savannah, while Skinner already had a 25-year career in construction under his belt.

"Kevin and I were exploring some special projects at our company and just beginning to get into the construction side of it with some of the heavy equipment like excavators," Sforzo said.

At the same time, according to Sforzo, the original contractor building the large SeaPoint Terminal along President Street on the Savannah waterfront was struggling mightily to complete the job.

"The contractor really did not want to continue working there," Sforzo said. "They were really not making a whole lot of money with what they had. For us, though, it turned out to be an opportunity that fell into our laps."

With the formation of Pintail, the trio of Jackson, Skinner and Sforzo were able to secure the contract to finish the site preparation for the SeaPoint Terminal after three years of work.

When asked what factors made the downtown Savannah parcel of land so difficult to prepare for construction, Sforzo said it primarily had to do with the site's environment and terrain.

"It was right off the Savannah River and the ground on which [the previous contractor was] moving and driving was made up mostly of marsh mud," he said. "That proved to be hard on the equipment they were using, and it continued to be difficult after we took over the job. We would sink equipment over and over. It was tough sledding from start to finish. Compared to where we are on this site in Rincon, which is a little higher above sea level, this is much drier ground."

A key factor in getting the SeaPoint job done properly was using bigger flotation-tire vehicles, Sforzo said, rather than relying on double- and tri-axle dump trucks. These tires provided Pintail's crew with a larger footprint to distribute the machine's weight across a larger surface area for better handling in all conditions.

"Those tires were much more suited for the environment and the muddy terrain — not to mention they helped to move a lot more material as well," he added.

Pintail Relies On New Savannah Branch of Hills Machinery

To get the equipment it needs to do jobs like the Rincon industrial park project, Pintail has come to rely on the Savannah branch of Hills Machinery. Headquartered in Charleston, Hills has multiple dealerships across the two Carolinas and Virginia, but its Savannah location is one of its newest.

Sforzo said his company enjoys working with Donnie Crosby, a Hills Machinery sales representative in the Savannah office that he and his partners have known for years. The veteran Crosby supplied Pintail with several Hitachi products to operate on its projects.

"Two of the first excavators we used were Hitachi 350s that we purchased to work on the original SeaPoint project to start our company," Sforzo said. "We love their excavators and consider them to be the cream of the crop. In fact, we have found that there really is not a better excavator for moving dirt than the Hitachis."

CEG photo

Pintail's latest purchase from Hills was a Hitachi ZW180-6 wheel loader, which Sforzo described as working so well that he and his partners are considering obtaining additional units.

"That front-end loader is a big one and has close to a 5-cu.-yd. bucket attached," he said. "Plus, we have other buckets and forks with it and the muddy terrain tires I mentioned earlier because they make it much easier to travel around these sites, especially when the weather has been bad.

"Right now, we are using the front-end loader to work on underground utilities," Sforzo added, "mainly to move most of the concrete pipe, the sewer and water pipes and the structures that come in for those various utilities. The crew also uses it to transport some of the stone they need in order to lay those utilities at their elevations and keep them safe for those guys."

Pintail's Hitachi excavators often get in the action because of their expertise in applying backfill material where needed. The ease with which their tracks allow them to scurry up and down dirt piles make them valuable tools for Sforzo and his crew.

"We have really gained a lot of trust in working with Donnie and Hills Machinery, although we are new to Hills," he said. "As far as their service and response, every time we have needed something and given them a call, it gets done almost immediately."

For more information, visit www.pintailsiteprep.com and www.hillsmachinery.com. CEG




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