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Lowe’s Distribution Center Project Fast Tracked

Thu April 13, 2006 - Midwest Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Rockford Blacktop Construction Company, one of the oldest and largest contractors in northern Illinois, is fast tracking a challenging site development project for a large distribution center by applying its full-service capabilities.

A division of William Charles Ltd., Rockford Blacktop Construction was founded in 1942 and focuses on earthmoving and asphalt paving projects as well as aggregate and asphalt production.

Based in Loves Park, a Rockford suburb, Rockford Blacktop Construction and other construction divisions operated by William Charles employ more than 600 people, making it one of the largest private employers in the region.

Rockford Blacktop Construction is bringing all its versatile specialties to bear on a building site for a new 1.4- million-sq.-ft. Lowe’s Regional Distribution Center in Rockford.

Crews from the company completed the first stage of the three-phase project, which involved moving more than 1.2 million tons of dirt and rock for the building pad and parking lot at the huge site.

A sister company will handle portions of the second phase, which includes construction of parking lots, ponds and the building itself.

“Our focus is on preparing the building site by moving the rock and dirt to meet the correct building pad elevation specifications,” explained Ben Holmstrom, vice president of Rockford Blacktop Construction.

“We started on September 12 with the site work. The schedule was very tight so we could complete the project in early December to avoid bad weather. Our crews kept us on track and everything went very well. Although rock on the site presented a challenge, it actually benefitted us because we were able to work in the rain, so we did not experience much downtime.”

After a drilling and blasting contractor shot rock at the site, crews from the company followed behind with a large fleet of heavy equipment, including trucks and scrapers, to move the material.

Volvo Products

Fit Job Needs

Rockford Blacktop Construction’s fleet on the distribution center site-work project included a number of Volvo machines provided by McAllister Equipment’s Rockford branch and longtime Area Manager Mark Pieri.

The Volvo equipment on the job included five 41-ton (37 t) capacity A40D articulated haul trucks top loaded with shot rock by an L330E wheel loader. A Volvo G746B motor grader handled site grading.

“We started using Volvo equipment at our quarries years ago. We found the wheel loader line to be superior in terms of ground speed and bucket capacity as well as fuel economy,” noted Holmstrom, whose company operates 17 quarries.

“As Volvo expanded their line during the past five years, we’ve added more equipment for earthmoving and road building jobs. In addition to the wheel loaders, Volvo really has some quality products with their haul trucks and graders. The Volvo backhoe is fairly new to the market and is also a good machine that we often rent. Throughout the year, we rent quite a bit of Volvo equipment from McAllister to supplement our fleet.”

This past year, Rockford Blacktop Construction has acquired or rented from McAllister Equipment nine Volvo wheel loaders (five L330Es, two L220Es, two L180Es), three Volvo excavators (two EC210BLCs and an EC240BLC) and five Volvo A40D articulated haul trucks. In addition, the company is using a KPI conveyor and NPK hammers from McAllister.

“Twenty-five percent to 30 percent of our 250-machine fleet is now composed of Volvo equipment,” commented Holmstrom. “We’ve been using Volvo haul trucks for more than a decade and have been very pleased with their performance. We’ve run Volvo motor graders since 2001 and we’re happy with those pieces. The Volvo wheel loaders have also been workhorses at our quarry operations and we are now using them in the field.”

Beyond the performance of Volvo equipment, Holmstrom said the biggest reason he buys and rents the products is the support he gets from McAllister.

“Most of our newer equipment, including the Volvo machines, are under maintenance contracts,” he said.

“McAllister has been great to deal with as far as new equipment, figuring out ways to save us money and telling us what we’re doing that is costing us money. They work with us to find the best equipment solution.

“Once we get the equipment, they’re good at tracking the cost per hour, which is all-important. They also help us with warranty issues and offer suggestions on how to extend the life of our equipment, such as using specific lubricants or oils in the machines. We like that McAllister partners with us to offer recommendations on what we should do with our equipment.”

People and Pride

Rockford Blacktop Construction takes a great deal of pride in its skilled and experienced team of employees who have left their mark on countless high-profile projects in northern Illinois, including the new Lowe’s Regional Distribution Center.

“The real key to the success and longevity of our company is the quality of our people and the fact that we have fantastic owners who give us full authority to do what we need to do to run the business,” said Holmstrom.

“Our people are good at what they do and have been doing it a long time. They come out to a job, such as the Lowe’s site, which, quite frankly, would scare off many contractors because of the rock. But from the operators to the job superintendent, everybody’s knowledgeable and knows how to bring jobs like this to a successful completion.”

The Lowe’s Regional Distribution Center is also a major economic boon for the hometown of Rockford Construction Blacktop — something of which the company is also proud.

“Lowe’s is a very successful national company that will bring more jobs to Rockford,” predicted Holmstrom. “I know Rockford campaigned hard to be chosen as the site for Lowe’s so we’re very pleased to take part in a job that benefits the community.”

Rockford Blacktop Construction also has completed a number of road infrastructure and commuter rail line projects in northern Illinois and the Chicagoland area during the past several years. One of the ongoing jobs includes rehabilitation of the I-88 east-west tollway from Rochelle to Dixon.

“Historically, 75 percent of our jobs were public work projects. Now, it’s a 50/50 split between public and private work,” said Holmstrom.

“We are seeing a steady increase in the amount of private work we are doing, including new subdivisions in Chicago and the Rockford area. We are continuing to grow and add people to keep pace with the projects we have. I foresee that continuing in the future.

“I think we have built a reputation as a quality company that has the full-service capabilities to finish jobs on time or ahead of schedule. We want to continue to build on that reputation in the future.” CEG

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