Good Hope Contracting/Blount Springs Materials in Cullman, Ala., has been fortunate through tough economic times and has been able to continually get paving and road work jobs. Company ownership, however, feeling the need to get more engaged in the milling process, began to explore its options, including Wirtgen machines.
"We had heard and read about Wirtgen machines, but what made us look at Wirtgen really hard is when Tractor & Equipment Co. became the dealer. We've had a long relationship with Tractor & Equipment. As a matter of fact, my father, Fulton Heatherly, bought his first piece of equipment from TEC about 30 years ago from TEC sales representative, Don Burgreen. We've been doing business with them ever since," said Darrin Heatherly, president of Good Hope Contracting/Blount Springs Materials.
"When we started looking at different machines, we actually held a demo on one of our road projects in Pell City, Ala. Wirtgen said they were willing to bring the machine we were interested in and another manufacturer we were considering brought their machine and we essentially ran them side by side in a demonstration environment. That's how we evaluated them," Heatherly said.
The final decision was a group effort among Heatherly, Craig Liggan, vice president of operations, and John Brown, vice president. The machine they chose was a Wirtgen W2000.
"Both machines did a good job, but we felt the Wirtgen machine had a little bit more to offer. Plus, with the outstanding service we've received over the years from Tractor & Equipment, the answer seemed obvious," Heatherly said.
"Don [Burgreen] has been our salesman for 30 years and I have all the confidence in the world that he and Tractor & Equipment will make sure that everything with this Wirtgen machine goes smoothly. This was a major investment," he added.
"When we decided to do the comparison of the two machines, at that time, the available Wirtgen machine only had the fine milling head on the machine and the other comparison machine had the standard head. I've read a lot about fine milling and had never seen it actually done in this state. From what I understand, no one else in the state of Alabama has been using fine milling heads either. So I thought that would be good to get a better understanding of the fine milling head compared to standard. We were impressed and that's how we ended up with the Wirtgen machine with the fine milling head on it," Heatherly said.
"The obvious advantage we saw of the fine milling is the smoother surface we're able to obtain. How that comes into play is with traffic, and especially motorcycles, the heavier grooved milled section of road can be dangerous. The fine mill makes the road surface extremely smooth and less hazardous to drive on," he continued.
"We feel like some time in the future, fine tooth drums are going to be what the state wants and we want to be the first to have it. We feel like it makes for a safer surface when left uncovered," Liggan said.
The very first job for Good Hope Contracting's new Wirtgen W2000 was a milling job on Highway 69 between Good Hope and Cullman, Ala. A 5 mi. (8 km) stretch of road from I-65, going east to U.S. 31 in downtown Cullman, the job required a 1.5 in. (3.8 cm) mill and a 1.5 in. overlay, with the only subbed out work being the final lane markings. The machine milled at 7 ft. 2 in. (2.2 m) per pass with a needed change to the combo milling head to mill at a 4 ft. (1.2 m) width on the second pass per lane.
"The drum that came on the Wirtgen machine that we bought gives us the best of both worlds. We can do the fine milling or we can block out every other tooth, which brings it back to basically a standard milling head. Our Wirtgen machine can be changed out with a combo cutter head and what it allows us to do is to drop a drum and we can mill a smaller 2 or 4 ft. wide area," Heatherly said.
The big test for the machine was at Good Hope Contracting's second job, according to Heatherly. The job site on I-59 in Etowah County, Ala., required a 7 in. (17.7 cm) deep at 4 ft. (1.2 m) wide mill of concrete on the inside shoulder of the interstate, which required the combo cutter drum.
The company has been fortunate to have some major road work on both I-59 and I-20 come its way as a result of the federal government's stimulus program, in addition to a continual work load in paving and milling jobs.
"Paving and milling is the primary thing we do. Our base and pave job on Corridor X was the largest in the history of Alabama with over a half a million tons of asphalt put down. We've had numerous interstate jobs on I-20, I-59 and I-65 that we have performed. We do everything from shopping center pavement to major interstate work," said Heatherly.
Good Hope Contracting does business primarily in a 10 county area in North Central Alabama. The Decatur, Birmingham and Anniston branches of TEC are conveniently located to easily serve the needs of Good Hope Contracting for its machine needs.
For the future, Good Hope Contracting is looking forward to the flexibility it will have with its new Wirtgen machine. In addition to utilizing the fine milling head and the use of combo cutter head for variable widths, it also gives the company more flexibility without having to worry about overcut, according to Heathery. The milled material at the job sites also is of great value as it is taken back to their asphalt plants and used as recycled asphalt in asphalt mix production.
In the Beginning
Good Hope Contracting was founded by Fulton and Betty Heatherly in the late '60s as a driveway and small parking lot paving company. From a handful of original employees the business grew to its current staff of approximately 150.
"We were in the lay down business up until 1991, the year we bought our first asphalt plant. At this same time frame, we started our sister company, Blount Springs Materials and have grown to where we presently have five quarries, three limestone and two sandstone operations as well as five asphalt plants," stated Heatherly.
Fulton Heatherly is still in the business, but has scaled way back, passing the day-to-day responsibilities of the business down to Darrin.
"I essentially inherited my dad's TEC sales rep as well," Darrin Heatherly observed.
The company's sales representative isn't the only thing that's been around all these years.
"We still own the first machine we purchased 30 years ago from Don at TEC. The old Dresser TD15C still gets used from time to time." CEG
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