MA’s Francesco Demolition Does It All With Hitachis

Fri December 05, 2003 - Northeast Edition

Big or small, Francesco Demolition Inc., of Duxbury, MA, does it all, said Frank Durante, company founder. “Houses, factories, or large shopping centers — there’s nothing we can’t tackle.”

Durante did not start out in demolition. First, he did excavation work in the South Shore area of Massachusetts. He had the opportunity to do a demolition job and discovered he liked it. Now, it is his full-time business, with jobs all over the New Hampshire-Massachusetts-Connecticut region. His prized demolition tools are two Hitachi excavators –– an EX450 and a new Zaxis 450.

After trying out other equipment, Durante tried a Hitachi. “I really liked it,” he said. “It’s strong with a high undercarriage for going over debris. It has a bigger cab with better visibility and more power. The hydraulics are also sensitive and smooth. Plus I like Schmidt Equipment. They are really good people to work with. They played a big part in my decision process.

“I specifically chose the 450 because of its great balance and its weight, horsepower, and sheer strength. I need something that can rip things apart, rather than relying on a torch to burn things. This is a tough business and the 450s can handle what I ask them to. A lesser machine would slow me down and probably couldn’t handle the strain,” he said.

Durante put thumbs on his two excavators. But they aren’t ordinary thumbs –– they are custom-altered to better grasp objects, which worked out extraordinarily well with the sensitive Hitachi hydraulics. As a result, his operators can achieve almost hand-like dexterity. That’s a key point, because the operators must carefully dismantle each site, salvaging what can be resold. Items like brick, steel, wooden beams and granite are plucked out and stacked into separate piles.

Reselling serves several purposes –– reduces dump fees, enables the company to pick up extra income and preserves some of the area’s architectural treasures. Large wooden beams, for example, can set off a bidding frenzy reaching up to a thousand dollars or more per beam.

One excavator with the special bucket/thumb combo accomplishes the task of several machines or attachments. By using just one machine on a job, Durante is able to bid very competitively. The special bucket/thumb works better than a grapple for salvaging brick. A steel I-beam from the site, when wielded by an excavator, works just as well as a wheel loader for grading. And the bucket, of course, works fine for loading trucks.

Most of the company’s jobs are public-sector competitive bid. But some are special contract –– like the work they do for area fire departments.

“If there is a fire and the building is falling apart, the city will call us,” explained Durantes’ daughter Francesca, who runs the office, does project management work and handles the permitting. “We’ll come out while the fire is still going and work with the fire department to pull apart sections. This makes it easier for the crew to rescue trapped people or gain access to trouble spots.”

“We’ll also work with the arson crew after the fire, picking apart selected sections so they can investigate,” added son Anthony, who runs equipment and jobs. “Needless to say, it takes a lot of skill to do this kind of work.”

Durante takes great pride in his machines, and this is reflected in his clean-machine policy; his company and his children. “I’ve laid the foundation and we’ll see where the company goes,” he said. “Anthony and Francesca will take over one day, but I’ll never retire. I enjoy what I do; I enjoy running the equipment –– it’s fun.”

Francesco Demolition Inc. is serviced by Schmidt Equipment, Swansea, MA.

(This article appears courtesy of “Breakout Magazine.”)