(L-R) Linder Industrial Machinery Company TSE Eric Moraguez, Downrite Engineering GPS Superintendent Lincoln Dacosta and Linder sales representative Randy Dominguez examine the rover station that communicates with the new Komatsu D71PXi-24 dozer. “At our County Line Phase Four job site, the machine has cut our grading time in half. The power combined with the integrated 2.0 intelligent Machine Control GPS technology allows us to move large quantities of material and cut the pad to grade without stakes or masts,” noted Dacosta.
Growing up around the construction industry, Sam LoBue learned the value of hard work and initiative at an early age. At 18 years old, LoBue founded his own construction company, Downrite Engineering Corp., and has spent the last 40 years building it into one of the largest contractors in Florida.
"I was raised laying asphalt for my uncle's paving company," said LoBue. "When I started Downrite, I would complete underground utility contracts for a cable company and FP&L [Florida Power & Lights]. Initially, it was only me. Eventually, my brother and parents all joined the business. While we have grown considerably since then, we continue to keep that family mentality today."
Currently, the 700-employee company takes on $200 million in contracts annually. Even though Downrite Engineering is based in Miami, its territory encompasses a 95-mi. radius that stretches along Florida's coast from Homestead to Palm Beach.
"Downrite started growing the day I founded the company and never slowed until the recession in 2008," said LoBue. "We've regained momentum the last couple of years and are currently focused on commercial and residential projects in the private sector. We will also take on municipal jobs and public works projects to supplement our workload.
"We're able to separate ourselves from other contractors through our ability to self-perform every aspect of a project," continued LoBue. "That allows us to work according to our own schedule without relying on subcontractors. Our mix of manpower and speed allows us to stay aggressive when seeking work without compromising our quality."
When customers have a question, LoBue is the first person to answer the phone.
"I'm proud of my company," said LoBue. "Our customers continue to work with us because they know they can pick up the phone 24/7, and I'll answer the call. We negotiate a majority of our work because our customers know that when they work with Downrite that means they get Sam LoBue. The buck stops with me."
D71PXi Dozer Increases Efficiency
Downrite Engineering has played an integral role in some of the largest projects throughout its territory. Recently, it completed work in Fort Lauderdale on DRV PNK Stadium for Fort Lauderdale CF, an affiliate team of Inter Miami CF playing in USL League One. Downrite Engineering will soon begin work on Inter Miami CF's new facility, Miami Freedom Park. Once completed, it will include a 25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, retail shops, hotels, restaurants and a training center.
"Our portion of the Fort Lauderdale project encompassed $8 million, which is not uncommon for us," noted LoBue. "The facility serves as an interim stadium for Inter Miami CF until their new stadium and the surrounding complex is completed. We're getting ready to start work on that project, which is a $50 million job for us."
The firm often takes a job site from first cut to final grade. "Many of our jobs involve clearing, demucking, stripping and moving large amounts of material," explained GPS Superintendent Lincoln Dacosta. "We need strong, durable machines that have the power to push large quantities of dirt, but we want to do it efficiently."
The firm's fleet — approximately 300 pieces of equipment — includes four Komatsu D71PXi-24 dozers to help meet the demands of larger jobs.
"The D71 is the way of the future," said Dacosta. "At our County Line Phase Four job site, the machine has cut our grading time in half. We have several other Komatsu dozers with integrated GPS technology, but the D71 has stood out. The power combined with the integrated 2.0 intelligent Machine Control GPS technology allows us to move large quantities of material and cut the pad to grade without stakes or masts.
"The 2.0 technology makes a difference when you're stripping a site and there's a ditch, because the dozer will know there's supposed to be a cut there," continued Dacosta. "When you go back over that location, the dozer will follow the dip and take the material away, instead of blading over the ditch and dumping the material at the end of the pass. The 2.0 technology is faster and more efficient than the previous version and has increased our operators' efficiency."
Dacosta also noted that the machine's slant-nose design with a rear radiator provides excellent vision for the operator and makes the job site safer.
"It's important to be aware of everything happening around you when operating a machine, and the slant nose gives you an unobstructed view of what's happening in front of the dozer," said Dacosta. "The design means you're able to see your blade, which is unique for a dozer in this class. With the radiator in the rear, you don't have to worry about dust or water coming through the front of the machine. For an operator without much experience, the design and technology of the machine gives them the tools to be successful from day one. The machine can help them learn how to grade. Experienced operators are able to blow through any job because the D71 gives them the power to move large quantities of material and the control to take a pad to final grade."
Excellent Support From Linder
When LoBue looks for new equipment, parts supply, service and price all play a factor. That's why when Downrite Engineering added 22 pieces of equipment to its fleet, LoBue worked with Linder Industrial Machinery Company and sale representative Randy Dominguez.
"Linder has grown to over 25 percent of our fleet," noted LoBue. "Since Randy joined the company, we've established a great relationship and have felt confident to add a number of Komatsu pieces to our fleet, including the four D71 dozers. The Komatsu Care service they provide also takes the responsibility of factory-scheduled, preventative maintenance out of our hands, which has been helpful."
"If I have to call Linder about one of our machines, they're out here to fix the problem immediately," added Dacosta. "I've made calls to their service department and guys that are on vacation will answer my call to help us resolve the problem. We feel very comfortable with Linder's support and their ability to maximize our uptime."
Similarly to the previous 40 years, LoBue plans to continue expanding Downrite Engineering. With a number of projects already secured, the firm's growth seems inevitable.
"We currently have over $200 million in projects to be completed," said LoBue. "We're set up well for the next couple of years, and we plan to continue growing as the economy rebounds and projects continue to become available."
(This story was reprinted with permission from Construction Publications Inc.)
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