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Independent Commercial Contractors Demolish Black Clawson Facility After Fire

Fri October 21, 2005 - Northeast Edition
Kate Zanoni



On a steamy July afternoon, teenagers accidentally started a fire at the former Black Clawson manufacturing facility in Watertown, NY, devastating the building’s interior.

Before the fire, Black Clawson was a major manufacturer of equipment used in the paper manufacturing industry. In its heyday, Black Clawson had approximately 2,000 employees at its Watertown location, but the site has been deserted for approximately four years.

As a result of the fire, on Aug. 20, 2005, Independent Commercial Contractors was tabbed as the sole contractor to demolish what was left of the old facility. The company will complete all phases of the demolition project without the aid of subcontractors.

All materials at the site are being recycled except for the concrete slab that makes up the foundation of the facility.

Approximately 700 tons (635 t) of construction demolition materials and 700 tons of salvageable steel will be removed from the building.

The demolition attack strategy includes cutting the columns of the building using an excavator with a hydraulic shear before pulling the walls down.

Each steel column is 24 in. (61 cm) wide and will be cut into 10-ft. (3.1 m) long sections.

“The recoverable steel is being used to offset the cost of the demolition project,” said Donald DeYear, vice president of Independent Commercial Contractors Inc.

Because steel currently has a very high value, the salvage effort helps make many of DeYear’s demolition projects economically feasible.

“As the project has progressed, we have run into no unforeseen problems,” he said. “In fact, everything has gone pretty much like clockwork.”

“We have done some work for Black Clawson in the past, so I was very familiar with these facilities and how they are put together,” he added. “Understanding how a building was built certainly aides you when it comes time to take the facility down.”

For this project, DeYear rented two different combinations of equipment from Tracey Road Equipment’s Watertown, NY, location.

With the help of Tracey Road Equipment’s Sales Representative Joe Natali, DeYear matched a Kobelco SK290LC, a 66,000-lb. (29,937 kg) excavator, with a Stanley grapple to process wood products at the site.

For steel processing, DeYear rented a Hyundai 360LC, an 82,000-lb. (37,194 kg) excavator with a 35-ft. (10.7 m) reach, and matched it with a LaBounty MSD 2500R mobile shear.

The shear weighs 14,500 lbs. (6,577 kg) and has a 32-in. (81.3 cm) wide jaw opening and 38 in. (96.5 cm) of jaw depth.

“We knew that we needed to bring in some specialized equipment for a job this size and we did not want to purchase additional machines for a two-month project,” said DeYear. “That’s why renting this equipment from Tracey right here in Watertown made a lot of sense.”

Independent Commercial Contractors’ relationship with Tracey Road Equipment extends back a few years, before the equipment company’s Watertown facility was even opened in 1998.

Since solidifying this working relationship, DeYear has purchased most of his company’s equipment from Tracey.

“Almost everything in our fleet has been purchased from Tracey Road Equipment, [but] whenever we look at a steel cutting demolition job, we opt to rent the equipment,” said DeYear.

“We had never rented our shears from Tracey in the past. I was surprised when Joe Natali informed me that they had a shear in their rental fleet,” he said.

DeYear was impressed with the shear’s 360-degree rotation, since those he had rented in the past were “fixed” and had no rotation whatsoever.

“That rotation adds dramatically to the shear’s maneuverability,” said DeYear. “It gives the operator vastly more flexibility on how he can attack his demolition project.”

The combination of the Hyundai and the shear helped Independent Commercial Contractors tackle the Black Clawson demolition project with ease.

“I cannot imagine how many more months this job may have taken without the LaBounty shear,” said DeYear, adding that “the Labounty shear has a resourceful design that allows for continuous usage.

“Once you have wear on one side, you can flip them and use the other side,” said DeYear. “This doubles the amount of wear that you can get out of a set of blades. And the maneuverability of the shear has added huge safety considerations to our job site.”

DeYear added that he also has received additional attention from LaBounty’s factory representative, Mike Rurycz.

“[He] has spent a lot of one-on-one time with us at the job site,” said DeYear.

The Hyundai 360 carrier also has been a big help for this project, according to DeYear.

“It offers all of the comfort, power and conveniences of other excavators that we have used, but what’s been a big difference for us is its fuel economy,” he said.

According to DeYear, the Hyundai consumed dramatically less fuel daily than any other excavators in his fleet.

About Independent Commercial Contractors

Independent Commercial Contractors is a family-owned business and licensed asbestos company.

The business offers services in demolition and asbestos abatement, hazardous material handling, general construction, construction management, excavation, millwright and rigging.

Many of the company’s demolition projects involve the removal of underground fuel tanks, site work, landscaping and beautification of the site at the conclusion of job.

With four full-time employees, Independent Commercial Contractors works on one contract at a time, providing undivided attention to clients. CEG