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Tarheel Firm Positions Itself for Continued Success

From modest beginnings in rural northeastern North Carolina, Glover Construction Co. Inc. has grown into a respected building firm in the southeast.

Tue August 19, 2014 - Southeast Edition
Eric Olson

From modest beginnings in rural northeastern North Carolina, Glover Construction Co. Inc. has grown into a respected building firm in the southeast.

Its impeccable reputation is due in large measure to being able to overcome a variety of project difficulties to deliver a finished product on time, on budget, in a safe manner and without contractor-generated “change orders.”

Glover Construction, based in Pleasant Hill, northeast of Roanoke Rapids just south of the Virginia state line, moves millions of tons of dirt each year as a company that specializes in mass excavation.

Its projects include residential/resort development, landfills, large commercial/industrial development, wetland mitigation and dredging.

“We were one of the first companies in North Carolina to build landfills,” said John Glover III, the third generation of Glover to run the construction firm. “We come from the eastern part of the state which is known for having wetter conditions than the west. The first landfill we built in Virginia was built in a swamp, which you can’t do any longer. But, the wetter the work, the more accustomed we are to it. Since then we have grown into doing more rocky work. I was always raised to believe that if you can handle water you can handle anything.”

A Precision Instrument at Work

Lately, in order to more precisely grade dirt on its various projects, Glover Construction has been working with Raleigh’s Benchmark Tool & Supply Inc. to install Topcon Positioning Systems products in some of its equipment.

Topcon is recognized as one of the world’s leading makers of GPS systems that employ automated grade control technology, according to the company.

The benefits of using the Topcon system were immediately apparent to Glover Construction.

“The speed at which Topcon works has been very important to our business,” said Glover. “A lot of the work we do has to be done on a tight timeframe, meaning that we cannot afford to do it twice. The Topcon system allows you to grade it one time and when you are finished grading it you can move on to the next section.

“You don’t have to worry about redoing it once the surveyor comes out there. It’s done, it’s proper and it’s to specifications.”

He said that has made Topcon’s GPS products so valuable to his company. A lot of money has been saved because Topcon has appreciably increased Glover’s productivity due to so little project re-working.

“Re-work is what kills you in this industry,” Glover said.

Benchmark Rewarding to Glover

Working with Benchmark to make sure that they get the right Topcon system for his company’s needs has proven to be a rewarding experience, he said. In particular, he has been most impressed with the service he has received from Benchmark sales representative John Mooney.

“John has been very responsive as far as troubleshooting problems, getting new equipment and answering questions about upcoming equipment,” Glover said. “At the same time, he has not tried to sell us on a new product until it is proven through Benchmark, not just through Topcon. He is working with us to get the best products for our applications and not overselling us equipment that might not be beneficial to our needs.”

Recently, Glover Construction has been utilizing Topcon’s newest blade-control automation system, the machine control (MC), on many of its tractors and excavators.

“We run seven Caterpillar D6s with their automatic systems,” Glover said. “We just started using the MC system on our excavators. It is a very unique tool because you can see your grade as you cut it and it eliminates your having to keep a bulldozer there to keep your cut on grade.”

Topcon Makes Big Projects Easy

Glover has been using the Topcon system on a huge $40 million Rooms To Go project in nearby Dunn, N.C., made up of a warehouse, distribution center and retail showroom.

The construction firm has three tractors at the site, each with Topcon automatic systems, as well as one Cat 349 excavator with a Topcon GPS guiding it. In the course of building a 1.5 million sq. ft. (139,354 sq m) building pad, Glover said that his crews encountered a “very wet site with unclassified soil.” Through their efforts, though, they were able to “work” the soil and tighten it up before putting down stone for the build pad.

In all, about 600,000 sq. yds. (501,676.4 sq m) of soil and dirt was moved, Glover said.

“That is not as large a dirt job as we are used to because the Dunn area is relatively flat but the soil type made it a difficult project because the water table was right at the surface,” Glover said. “It was clay soil that didn’t want to give up water but with our fleet of articulated tractors with big, 42-inch disc blades behind them, we were able to dry it up and get it to where we got compaction and stabilization of the soil.”

According to Glover, most contractors don’t keep many discs that big in their stock, but with all the base and landfill work that his company does, they have a significant collection of them on hand to work clay in order to get permeability out of the clay.

Big Machines Improve Efficiency

The reason that Glover Construction uses some of the largest-sized excavators and dozers available, according to Glover, is simply because bigger machines move dirt quicker and more efficiently.

“Larger equipment means less cycle time between trucks and when time is tight you have got to move stuff fast and get the bulk dirt out of the way so that you can start grading and moving the project forward,” Glover said.

The company recently helped build a massive new warehouse in Tennessee that needed to be completed quickly. As a result, Glover’s crews were moving 40,000 tons (36,287 t) of dirt a day.

“The only way to do that is with big machines,” Glover said. “So we traditionally run Cat 385s with 10-yard buckets on them or three buckets on a Volvo A40. Forty to 45 seconds and you have got a load. You can’t get that production with anything else.”

As far as dozers, the company typically operates Cat D8s to go along with its D6s. Glover characterized the D6 as “probably the most versatile tractor Caterpillar makes.”

Humble Origins

Glover Construction was founded in the 1950s by John Glover I, who started his life of hard, honest work during the Great Depression by hauling sand to his grandmother’s smokehouse for a penny a load using a goat-drawn cart.

When the senior Glover was older, he began work in the earthmoving and logging business before buying his first Cat D2 and building what would eventually become Glover Construction. His two sons followed him into the business and, later, his namesake grandson.

Today, the company employs 37 articulated trucks and 53 tractors with custom-made bottom-dump trailers. In addition, Glover’s huge office and shop complex serves clients in multiple states on the eastern seaboard.

And almost six decades after the firm’s creation, three generations of Glovers are still active in the business, including the founding John Glover.

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