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Giberson Preps Site for New Military Housing at Fort Dix

Tue September 02, 2008 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Hetrick

“United Communities [UC] is a great company to work with,” Richard Giberson, Giberson Plumbing & Excavating Inc., Shamong, N.J., said.

The project United Communities LLC, Marlton, N.J., is currently working on also is great. The company has the job of building the largest development of privatized military housing in the country since the Military Housing Privatization Initiative went into effect in 1996 and was made permanent in the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2004. The project is at Joint Base McGuire Air Force Base/Fort Dix, N.J., and is a major upgrade for the military families who live there.

United Communities is dedicated to providing the highest quality homes for military families, as well as property management to continue long after the homes are complete. Families will benefit from newly constructed houses that include amenities such as high efficiency HVAC systems, compact fluorescent lighting, two and a half baths, three or four bedrooms, storage areas and garages. UC Privatization offers houses that are 33-percent larger than typical military housing units, 24-hour emergency maintenance, landscaping services and month-to-month leases with no security, electric or pet deposits.

“There has been pretty much the same housing at Fort Dix/McGuire for years and even though there always seems to be talk lately of shutting bases down, like the ongoing discussion of Willow Grove, Fort Dix/McGuire will probably never be closed down. Cargo and air refueling planes leave from McGuire, it’s a perfect location for getting things to Europe in one shot,” said Larry Giberson, vice president of Giberson Enterprises.

Working With the Military

Giberson Plumbing & Excavating, a woman-owned company under the leadership of Richard and Marie Giberson, Larry’s parents, has been in business for more than 30 years. Marie is president and Richard is vice president. Larry has been working there “legally” since 1981, but he mentioned that he started hanging around the business when he was about five. They work, according to Larry, “in every sector — public, private, residential, government … there’s not a sector we don’t work in.”

Rick Giberson Jr. and his team acquired the Fort Dix/McGuire project, which is being jointly managed by Rick and Richard. Rick Jr. also has been with the family business for many years.

The company’s experience in working with the military, which goes back more than 20 years, made it an obvious choice when United Communities put the job at Fort Dix /McGuire up for bid and wanted a highly regarded company already prepared with as much base knowledge as possible. Giberson Plumbing & Excavating Inc. had all the qualifications and the reputation the developer was looking for, so it was awarded the project.

Giberson Plumbing has been working hard excavating old utilities and getting the site pads ready to make room for the new houses at Fort Dix/McGuire. The scope of the work is consistent from parcel to parcel.

“We demo all the underground utilities and then we install the new sanitary mains storm system and water mains, followed by the water and sanitary systems to the building pads. The roads get roughed and curbing is installed. Next we base the roads with DGA then asphalt. During all of this, the dirt crews are cutting and filling the site to the specified grades,” Marie explained.

The firm also uses Eco-Crusher attachments, supplied by Giberson Enterprises, which is jointly owned by Larry, who is vice president, and Richard, who is president. Giberson has minimized its trucking and tipping fees of concrete debris by recycling it on site. Since the Eco-Crusher makes a finished crushed concrete byproduct, Giberson also has reduced the amount of crushed aggregate and concrete that needed to be purchased for this and many projects that it is working on giving it additional cost savings.

A Twist of Fate

Although Giberson Enterprises/Eco-Crusher has only been around since June 2005, the success of the company has been great. And it all came about because of a simple mistake.

Larry was taking a day off from touring ConExpo 2005, hanging by the pool and enjoying time with his family, a real break from the 80-plus hour workweeks he’d been putting in at the family business. Then his father called from a remote display at the very back of ConExpo and told Larry to come over and look at a crusher he’d discovered, entirely by accident when he got on the wrong bus and ended up somewhere he hadn’t intended to be.

Crushers were on the list of reasons the father/son team had come to ConExpo, so Larry decided he’d better go see this one his father was so interested in. When he got to the display by Italian company Meccanica Breganzese he, like Richard, was impressed with the product and they purchased it. This was quite a leap of faith considering that the bucket jaw crusher they were purchasing was the only one in the country, which meant there was no local support for parts and maintenance, which is every contractor’s nightmare. But the Gibersons took the risk and reaped a bigger reward.

During their conversation with the vendors, they learned that the company, which had been founded in 2001 by Guido Azzolin and his brother Deigo and sister Carla, had no distribution in the United States and the vendors wondered if Giberson Excavating would like to be a distributor. Initially, Larry and Richard said no; they were busy enough and couldn’t see taking on any more work than they already had.

That attitude quickly changed after they had had a chance to use the crusher in their business and, Larry said, “Within two months I jumped on a plane to Italy and made the deal. We were essentially given the product line and told we could do whatever we wanted with it by way of distribution. They started us in New Jersey and when we sold throughout that state, they gave us the whole Northeast and we kept going and now we distribute across the whole United States and all the territories from Guam to Puerto Rico.”

Veronica Guerra of Meccanica Breganzese commented that the company is very pleased with the relationship it has with Giberson Enterprises.

“Our product is very well known in America thanks to the Gibersons. We are really strong with them and participated with them in one of the most important trade show exhibitions in the world, ConExpo 2008 in Las Vegas. We really [have] trust in our dealer.”

Building Strong Relationships

Giberson Enterprises branded the product the “Eco-Crusher” for the United States market and has had tremendous success both selling and using it in its own business. Although Larry mentioned that the Eco-Crusher fits on any brand of machine, Giberson Plumbing & Excavating Inc. uses Kobelco excavators to run its crushers, which are repaired and maintained by its own in-house staff along with its entire fleet.

The relationship between Giberson and Kobelco is mutually beneficial.

“We run the crusher on Kobelco when we do a customer demo, which means that customers usually end up running a Kobelco and realizing that it is a great machine, which in turn has helped the excavator dealers rent and sell more machines,” Larry said.

Harter Equipment Inc., Millstone Township, N.J., is the authorized Kobelco dealer for the area.

One of the Kobelco excavators on the Fort Dix project is a standout, painted brightly in patriotic red, white and blue.

“Kobelco gave us a SK260 excavator to run live demos at ConExpo this year. There were not many live demos going on and there we were in the middle of things crushing rock and concrete. It was great publicity. And we did a lot of cross-advertising with Kobelco and met a lot of their dealers,” said Larry.

Giberson Plumbing & Excavating Inc. had already signed on for the Fort Dix/McGuire project when they attended ConExpo 2008. Because they were about to start that prominent job, they needed to expand their equipment fleet by 5 to 10 percent in order to fill their time track needs and put more equipment on the project.

“I made a package deal with Kobelco, and I asked them to include the ’stars and stripes’ model in the package deal of three excavators. I told them that if they did, I would be putting it on the largest privatized housing project in the country for the government. So they did and it’s a great deal for both of us. Kobelco has had representatives on the base to film the excavator at work to use in their advertising and we got a great machine which has exceeded our work expectations and represents our company well.”

Never people to stand still for long, the Gibersons have work planned far into the future.

“We have plenty of projects lined up and we will stay with the military and keep versatile in all sectors, as we’ve been doing for years. We never stop bidding on projects and our great reputation as a family run business also gets us many return customers,” Larry said. CEG

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