Vincent Parziale, president/CEO
In late August, the New York Giants and New York Jets will play a preseason football game against each other in what’s now being called the New Meadowlands Stadium. While it won’t be the first game played there — the Giants have a preseason opener beforehand — it will be the first game at the new stadium that houses both NFL teams.
Construction of the new stadium, which sits just 30 yards from the old Giants Stadium that was home to the teams for 35 years, is near completion. So is the demolition of the old stadium, which Westbury, N.Y.-based Gramercy began Feb. 4 with hazardous materials abatement. Physical demolition began April 5 when the company took its first bite out of the brick and concrete shell of the 75,000-seat stadium.
Because the old stadium and the new are in such close proximity, implosion was not an option as part of the demolition process. That means Gramercy has to take down the structure with near surgical precision to ensure safety for the more than 100 employees who work on the site.
“Safety is our utmost priority, followed by getting the job done on time and on budget,” said Vincent Parziale, president and CEO of Gramercy. “We hired extra employees, and we’re working two eight-hour shifts to ensure we stay on schedule.”
Gramercy Group expects to finish the more than $10 million project in early August, leaving an area for a future parking lot for the new stadium where the old stadium once stood. Underneath that parking area will be thousands of yards of concrete that Gramercy recycles on site as part of the demolition process.
“There will be a hole where the field was, and that has to be backfilled with about 210,000 yards of material,” Parziale pointed out. “Some of that material comes from excavation of the new stadium. As that took place, we processed the material, screened it and stockpiled it. Also, a portion of the backfill will come from about 40,000 yards of concrete that comes from recycling almost 100 percent of the building.
“In all, we’re moving about 75 truckloads of steel and 100 loads of concrete out of the stadium area per day,” he added. “The steel is taken off site for recycling. The concrete is recycled in a staging area just outside the stadium and will be brought back later and used for parking lot base.”
Versatile Komatsu Equipment
Getting the materials to the ground where they can be separated takes more than just knocking it down with a crane and wrecking ball. With safety a concern, Gramercy laid out a plan to take the stadium down in sections, first by cutting the steel supports then pulling the sections down with large excavators. Once it’s on the ground, the company sorts and separates materials, mostly using late-model Komatsu machinery Gramercy purchased from Edward Ehrbar Inc., with the help of Ehrbar Sales Representative Danny Stanton and Vice President of Sales Lawrence McCrann.
“We have seven Komatsu excavators working on site, including a PC800 and a PC600 that we’re using to pull the sections down,” said Parziale, who also has PC400 and PC200 excavators on site, as well as three Komatsu WA480 wheel loaders. “A job like this requires versatility in the machinery, so all our Komatsu excavators are equipped with quick couplers to quickly change to buckets, shears, hammers and grapples.
“When we buy an excavator, we have it pre-plumbed to handle attachments,” he added. We’ve found that Komatsu has the hydraulic power to run anything we put on them. It’s not always feasible or cost-effective to have multiple pieces of equipment on a site, so having one machine with the power and capability to handle several tasks is a distinct advantage. That’s the case with Komatsu.”
Parziale noted that Edward Ehrbar Inc. played a vital role in Gramercy’s decision to make its initial purchase of Komatsu equipment. Using Komatsu’s KOMTRAX remote machine-monitoring system, Ehrbar tracks Gramercy’s Komatsu equipment and alerts the contractor to any issues that may arise, as well as service intervals.
“KOMTRAX allows us to more accurately track our maintenance and service, which is essential,” said Parziale. “It ensures services are done on time, which in turn means the machinery maintains its production and uptime. Ehrbar does a great job of monitoring our machines as well, working with us to quickly handle any issues, such as a fault code. It’s that level of service from Komatsu and Ehrbar that convinced us to try Komatsu in the first place. Anything we need, they’re right there to help.”
Gramercy financed some of its pieces using Komatsu Financial.
“They really work with us to ensure we’re able to get the equipment we need by offering us excellent financing terms. That helps us build our business, be more competitive and tackle jobs such as this,” said CFO Frank Castiglia.
Other High-Profile Projects
In addition to the Giants Stadium demolition, Gramercy has used Komatsu equipment in the razing of a large number of high-profile demolitions, including the recent Madison Yard project. The $39 million job below Grand Central Station saw Gramercy clear the way for a new rail service. The company removed contaminated soil and existing crash walls, putting the materials on railcars to haul them away.
“The only access we had to the site was via rail from the Bronx, so we had everything loaded on the cars and hauled back out to the Bronx,” explained Parziale. “In jobs like that where we have close quarters, we rely on our Komatsu tight-tail-swing excavators. We equipped a PC88 and two PC138s with hammers, buckets and grapples, and they did a great job of busting through materials and cleaning them up. We don’t have to worry about the tight-tail-swing units hitting obstructions, so we can get right up close to the work.”
Materials were loaded into roll-off boxes that were placed on the railcars using a Komatsu WA480 wheel loader with forks and two WA95 wheel loaders. During the two-year project, Gramercy was loading as many as 12 railcars a day.
Using rail and barge to move materials is not uncommon for Gramercy, which generally has eight to 10 projects going at any one time. Parziale points out that the management staff of the company has decades of experience in efficiently moving demolition debris. Parziale and Executive Vice President/COO Frank Amicizia founded the company in 1999, but Amicizia brought experience in demolition with him when they teamed up. Other management team members include CFO Frank Castiglia and Vice President of Operations Albert Hanbridge.
“Our first jobs were taking down sheds, garages and small interior clean-outs,” recalled Parziale. “It was Frank and I doing whatever we could. But within the first year we landed an $8 million interior demo with abatement, then immediately got a project to take down an 18-story high-rise at Queens Hospital. Large, often complex, jobs are a real specialty for us now, as the Giants Stadium project illustrates.”
To further illustrate, Parziale points to a four-year project Gramercy completed at the former BICC Cable Manufacturing property in Yonkers. Asbestos removal, demolition of 800,000 sq. ft. of building and removal of contaminated soil were all part of the $30 million job. To make it more challenging, the site was located next to the Hudson River, making water a problem.
“We built a coffer dam by driving sheet piles 45 feet into the ground to dewater,” said Parziale. “Once it was dry, we excavated down 12 feet, took the materials out by rail and disposed of it at an approved facility. The plan for the site is now residential development.”
Continuing to Look Toward Expansion
The plan for Gramercy continues to be growth. The company has gone from a small operation to doing multi-million dollar projects with a staff of about 300. In addition to doing work in its home state of New York and at Giants Stadium and other projects in New Jersey, Gramercy also works in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The company has even gone as far as Puerto Rico to demolish a DuPont plant.
“We’re looking at expanding our markets right now and into the future,” reported Parziale, who noted the company is on track to close 2010 with about $75 million in revenue. “We’ve done some site work, and that’s an area we’d like to further explore.
“We don’t ever expect to stay static, and with our experience we’re able to take on a lot of work that others may shy away from. Right now, our main focus remains on demolition, because the Law of Gramercy is ’What goes up, we take down.’”
This story was reprinted with permission from Ehrbar Inc.’s Advantage Magazine.