Sometimes, a lesson learned the hard way is the best lesson to learn.
Just ask Steven Stewart, president of Metro Atlanta Demolition and Marietta Recycling Center, both headquartered at the recycling center site on Marble Mill Road in Marietta, Ga.
“In a business where downtime can make all the difference between profit and loss, having exactly the right crushing and screening equipment for your type of operation is crucial. And the dealer is every bit as important as the machines. Sometimes more so. We learned that lesson the hard way.”
Stewart started his company in 1992 with used jaw crushers and what he describes as “poor dealer support.”
The firm first took on small jobs, but gradually worked its way into larger projects by 1998. It is now one of the five largest demolition contractors in the Atlanta area, Stewart said.
“Since then we’ve switched to new Terex Pegson and Powerscreen equipment and great dealer support from Powerscreen of Florida and Georgia and our local representative, Ken Furey. That has made all the difference in the world,” Stewart said.
At present, Metro Atlanta Demolition is doing contract crushing at new residential and commercial construction sites. The Atlanta area has grown and been developed so much over the years that there is very little prime land left. Thus builders are now developing hilly, rocky land. Shot rock, mostly granite, is crushed on site and used as base for buildings, roads, pipelines and so on. Otherwise, the shot rock would have to be hauled away and crushed rock hauled back in. Crushing on site keeps the jobs on schedule and cuts the builder’s costs.
Marietta Recycling Center designates half its yard space for scrap metal and half for recycling building materials. Recycling materials come from three sources:
• Metro Atlanta Demolition trucks in construction and demolition debris from its jobs.
• Area contractors pay to truck in concrete and rock, and can leave with crushed material if they need it.
• Marietta Recycling Center crushes the rock and is backfilling its yard with the crushed material mixed with fines to meet state specs. Then, if necessary, the crushed stone can later be dug up and screened to keep up with market demands if there is a lull in incoming material.
At the recycling yard, various materials are produced, depending on what the market wants at the time. Currently this includes No. 57 “crush and run” (1.5 in. gravel with fines), No. 34 stone and 7 in. to 24 in. rip-rap. Metals such as tramp iron and rebar from crushing C&D debris are accumulated and recycled with other metals.
“Crushing has been the primary factor in our growth and overall success,” Stewart said. “It has enabled us to expand Metro Atlanta Demolition and start up and expand Marietta Recycling Center. You might say we’ve been a crushing success. But it didn’t start out quite the way we wanted.”
Mechanical and electrical problems plagued the start-up firm’s first pair of used jaw crushers and downtime became a big problem.
“We couldn’t get parts quickly or the expert dealer service we needed. Downtime was driving us crazy. So we bought a third used jaw crusher, and that was the biggest mistake of all,” he said.
But things turned around after he decided to buy new crushers.
“Ken Furey had called on me a few times and knew of our downtime problems. He gave me references to check out the efficiency and dependability of Terex Pegson crushers and Powerscreen of Florida and Georgia dealer service and parts support. I did check the references out very thoroughly and got very positive reports from Ken’s customers.”
Stewart traded in his three used machines on two new Terex Pegson 650HA jaw crushers.
“Plus I also bought a Terex Pegson 1000 Maxtrak cone crusher,” Stewart said. “I wasn’t sure buying new equipment would be the best use of our capital. But Ken worked out a very good deal for us, and the greater production efficiency of the new machines, plus all the service backup we ever needed —including service people on site within hours, even on a Saturday — were real eye-openers for me. It was at that point that our crushing costs dropped substantially.
“We used the 650HA crushers very successfully for about 18 months — one for Metro Atlanta Demolition, along with the 1000 cone, and one for Marietta Recycling Center — then Ken came in and told me about two new jaw crushers that Terex Pegson had introduced: the XA400 and the XR400. So I traded in the two 650HA crushers. The XA400 has a hydraulic adjustment feature that lets you quickly change the machine setting with no drawback rod adjustments. It has very low fuel consumption — I think we’re using about six to eight gallons an hour. It handles large feed due to an aggressive high-swing jaw. And it transports easily. Typically I use the XA400 with the 1000 cone and a Powerscreen Warrior 1800 on contract crushing operations at construction sites.”
Stewart praised certain features of the XR400, including the hydraulic overload protection.
“The jaw has a hydraulic release feature that opens up if anything too hard — like tramp iron or rebar — gets in it,” Stewart said. “That eliminates shutting down the crusher to get the jaw unlocked and the iron out, which takes a lot of time and can even be dangerous if you’re standing over the jaw burning the metal loose.”
He said the XR400 jaw can handle everything except asphalt and isn’t quite right for concrete rubble.
“So when we get an accumulation of materials best suited for an impactor, we have Ken bring in a Terex Pegson 1412 Trakpactor on rental,” Stewart said. “In some parts of the country, impactors are the crushers of choice for concrete and asphalt rubble and some aggregates, too, mostly limestone, because impactors are faster than jaws and have better material sizing capabilities. But the hammers wear down too quickly with granite, and that can be quite expensive.”
Stewart’s XR400 is used also for contract crushing on location for C&D recycling applications. One example is an Atlanta steel mill that was demolished recently. Materials to be crushed were basically a mixture of concrete rubble, granite and chunks of steel slag, as well as the rebar and other metals normally found in C&D debris. It was difficult if not impossible to tell the slag from the rubble as the mixture was fed into the XR400 hopper. Time and again the hydraulic release opened the jaw, dropped the slag or rebar onto the discharge belt, then closed back up immediately and went on crushing.
“Otherwise we would have been shutting down when the jaw seized in the middle of a stroke to unfreeze the locked jaw time after time after time,” Stewart said. “That would have delayed the job, thrown the schedule into chaos and cost us a lot of money in the process.”
He ran into that problem a lot with his other jaw crushers. The machines seized and broke toggle plates.
“We bought eight plates in a two year period at $1,500 to $2,000 each. If we’d been using those old used jaws on this steel mill job it would have been a disaster,” he said. “But the XR400 just kept going steadily along, crushing the rubble and rock, dropping the metal and slag, then going on crushing again without missing a beat.”
The crushed material, which had to stay on-site since it was contaminated with steel mill residue, was used as base for a new multi-level shopping mall, condominiums and adjacent roadways and parking lots.