If “Sidewalk Supervisors” of a generation ago and the “Sidewalk Supervisors” now were to compare notes, perhaps the biggest difference today is the presence of recycling plants on construction sites. As an example, Monty Blakeman, founder of Blakeman Construction, of Shelton, CT, sees recycling as a means of getting the job done efficiently while supplying other contractors with needed materials.
Currently, Blakeman and his son James are working on a 14-acre job site located at the intersection of Old Stafford Road and Route 8 just off Exit 12 of Route 8 to make way for a future multi-unit strip plaza. On this project, Blakeman is removing approximately 160,000 yds. of material from the site, of which approximately 100,000 yds. is solid rock.
To clear the area, Blakeman is scalping the soil from the site. Logs are harvested for their timber value, stumps are removed and ground and all the soil on the site is screened by a Powerscreen Chieftain 1400 portable tracked screener producing a high-quality top soil.
Rock at the site is blasted and crushed. A Pegson Premiertrak 2644 portable jaw crusher and a Pegson Maxtrak 1000 process the rock into aggregated materials, which is sold to area contractors and municipalities. Currently, Blakeman is processing between 1,500 and 2,000 yds. of materials daily.
Some of the aggregate products being produced include one and a half-in. stone and 6- to 8-in. rip rap, however Blakeman said, “If they’re willing to purchase enough of it, we are willing to process any size material an area contractor may be looking for.”
For Blakeman “time is money,” and the key to his success is to process the materials and get it off the job site as quickly as possible. He is able to transform huge piles of materials to a site suitable for construction by offering the recycled products at very low prices, enticing contractors to come from as far away as Hartford.
Blakeman, however, isn’t too wrapped up in the bookkeeping aspect of the recycling end of his business. “Our operators keep a log book of who has picked up what, but we’re not worried about that. We just want to get the material out of this site as fast as possible,” he said.
Blakeman’s journey into recycling led him to Powerscreen products at trade show several years ago.
“Twelve years ago, we visited ConExpo in Las Vegas. We looked at all the other screeners available on the market and purchased the Chieftain because we were convinced [that] it was the best valued product at the show that could meet our needs,” said Blakeman.
“As we started to look at putting crushers on site, we knew that tracked machines were certainly the way to go. It’s much easier to move a tracked machine to the material that needs processing than it is to move the materials to the machine. Today’s tracked crushers set up in literally no time at all and they are so flexible you can literally set up your materials in a windrow and drive the crusher down the pile and process materials.”
Blakeman purchased the Pegson Premiertrak 2644 portable jaw crusher because of its direct HFO drive system, which means the power is constantly being transferred to where the power is needed the most with no energy losses. It is the only system of its kind available on the market today, he said. That system combined with a Caterpillar C-class engine results in dramatically reduced fuel costs. In addition, the machine is made on one solid piece of frame, which adds to its strength.
The Pegson Maxtrak 1000 is the only crusher on the market with “all in feed,” which means no pre-screening is needed. That alone eliminates one expensive screening plant from a production train “right off the bat,” Blakeman said.
An additional feature of the Maxtrak that Blakeman likes is its ability to change the closed-side setting without shutting down production. The Maxtrak also features the same direct HFO drive system and solid piece frame construction offered by the Premiertrak.
“Although these machines are very expensive, when you match up the resale value along with the features and benefits of the Pegson machines, they are truly the best value on the market,” said Blakeman.
He also likes the features of the Powerscreen Chieftain 1400 track screener because of its free floating four bearing screen box. The screener’s design lends itself to very easy screen changes. The plant also allows for large variable screen angle range, which allows for increased production in sand and top soil and control of stone sizes when crushing.
In addition to the machines, which Blakeman purchased from Powerscreen Connecticut, he is pleased with the support that he receives from Shamus Sheelan, president of Powerscreen and Graham Wylie, sales representative.
“Graham has proven to be very knowledgeable. He knows the machines inside and out, in fact he got his training at the factory,” explained Blakeman. “Graham also understands that down time is unacceptable in our business and he does whatever he needs to do to keep us up and running —including running after parts.
“The machines from Pegson and Powerscreen are generally very reliable, but we keep a large inventory of commonly-used parts. It is very helpful when we are down to have Graham come onto the job site and know exactly how to help us with the machine,” said Blakeman.
In 1966 Blakeman started Blakeman Construction in southeastern Connecticut doing residential housing work. In 1975, he purchased his first subdivision and performed all phases of the job including the utilities, roads, site excavation and total construction of the houses in the subdivision.
Since 1990 in the Fairfield and New Haven areas, he has been building 20 to 25 high-end homes each year and doing all the site work. Four years ago, Blakeman expanded into commercial development and has been trimming back on home construction.
After high school, his son was faced with the options of joining the family business or going to college. James decided to join his father’s “school of hard knocks” and today is an integral part of the business.
The company’s current project includes construction of a 75,000-sq.-ft. retail space with an expansion available for an additional 25,000 to 30,000 sq. ft. Committed tenants include: Outback Steakhouse, Walgreen’s and a local bank, with additional shopping areas included in this multi-unit strip plaza.
This project also involves $1-million worth of improvements to the roads around the building site and the installation of thousands of feet of utilities. One unique aspect of this project was the installation of an underground tank for water retention instead of the traditional surface pond. The tank measured 106 ft. long, 46 ft. wide and 8 ft. tall, which leaches water into the ground.
Blakeman explained the reason he owns all of the sites on which his company works. “I only work for myself because nobody else pays like I do,” which explains why he performs on-site recycling and wants to clear the property as quickly as possible and get on to the next project.
For more information, call Powerscreen Connecticut Inc. at 860/627-6596 or Graham Wylie at 203/395-3473 or Blakeman at 203/939-7146, or visit www.blakemanconstruction.com.