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Sergi Employs Kobelcos on Challenging Pipe Job in Albion, NY

Wed March 27, 2002 - Northeast Edition
Craig Mongeau

The hamlet of Albion, nestled between Rochester and Buffalo in western New York, has a population that tops out at about 5,500. The village, however, is the Orleans county seat, containing the region’s sheriff’s office, motor vehicles department, courthouse and sundry other governmental amenities. As a result, Albion’s streets are unusually congested most of the time, which makes any construction work on the streets — especially right down the middle — a challenge for any contractor.

Sergi Construction, a utility contractor that specializes in water and sewer work, based in East Aurora, NY, has been working on a sewer reconstruction project in Albion since December 2001. By the time the company has completed the job in May 2002, it will have laid 10,000 ft. (3,048 m) of 8-in. (20 cm) pipe and installed 25 manholes. Some of the work will be done using pipe bursting and other aspects of the job will involve open cutting.

The single largest challenge to this job has been traffic control and the town’s narrow streets, making it very difficult to make cuts and lay pipe down the center of the highway. To do this job, worth approximately $1.5 million, Sergi has employed three Kobelco excavators:

• a zero tail swing 51,000-lb. (23,133 kg) 235 SR;

• a 40,000-lb. (18,144 kg) SK200 Mark IV; and

• a 16,000-lb. (7,257 kg) 70 SR mini-excavator, which the company used primarily for lateral cuts and restoration.

Sergi purchased all three Kobelcos from Baschmann Services Inc., based in Elma, NY.

But why does Sergi need the 235 SR? “You can’t have the back end of the excavator swinging out and shutting off even more lanes of the traffic when you’re cutting down the center of the road. It would make a big nightmare,” said Frank Sergi Jr., the owner’s son, who has worked with his father every day, side by side since the company’s inception.

“With the Kobelco 235 SR and its no-tail swing or zero radius turning, you are literally not interrupting the traffic flow any more than the area it takes to park the excavator, regardless of your swing,” Sergi Jr. added.

On this job, Sergi Construction has equipped its Kobelco SK 200 Mark IV with a Kent KHP 135 tamper, which helps the company to avoid having a man in the trench when using the tamper from the end of the excavator.

Sergi initially had done its trench compaction on this job with trench compactors, but Sergi Jr. said that doing this was neither very fast, nor tremendously safe, and that the compaction rates were not as consistent as what the Kent tamper has provided for them.

The SK 200 Mark IV also is plumbed and fitted with a Mann hydraulic grapple. The 235-SR is plumbed and fitted with a tree shear.

Getting Sergi Construction equipped with these Kobelco excavators was both a matter of Baschmann Services’ tenacity and its service reputation. Sergi Jr. explained:

“I was on a job and needed to rent a machine quickly, and Bob Tracy of Baschmann Services was available. He had been chasing us for some time and he put us in a Kobelco 200 and later on he sold us the Kobelco SR 70 zero turn. Both machines we rented for a time but later decided to purchase. We love the strong power that the Kobelcos were giving us. The bottom of the machine is very stable and the power plant gives us very strong amounts of power and good breakout force. When we first used the Kobelco 200 it was twice as fast our old machine.

“I’ve also known Pete Baschmann, the owner of Baschmann Services, for many years and he has always had a good, strong reputation for excellent service. But, what really kept me on the hook with Baschmann Services is their commitment to good levels of metal inventory. Whenever we need a machine to get a job completed, Baschmann has it available and they rent it at a very fair price,” he concluded.

Sergi Construction installs a lot of pipe every year. Last year alone, the company put in 90,000 ft. (27,432 m)of pipe, installing as much as 13,000 ft. (3,962 kg) of it in one week. Sergi Jr. credits the Kobelco machines with allowing the business to reach this level of work volume. He mentioned that one of the features of the Kobelco 70 SR that he really likes is that it is a rubber-tracked excavator and that it has completely eliminated the potential of doing damage to the surface of the asphalt because of the rubber track.

What’s more, Sergi works year-round in upstate New York, where approximately six months of every year is spent working in the infamous Buffalo-area winters. Sergi Jr. said that the Kobelcos have been very strong and have always given them the ability to break through frost so that he can get the jobs started.

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