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Thompson Boosts Fleet to Handle Charlotte Boom

Thu June 07, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Gwenyth Laird Pernie

Shane Thompson is taking advantage of the development boom in the Charlotte area.

The president of Thompson Grading Inc. has increased its fleet by approximately 40 percent in the past year to be able to keep up with the work happening all around the Woodruff, S.C.-based contractor.

In addition to grading a 230-acre (93 ha) segment of the 520-acre (210 ha) Vineyards on Lake Wylie in Belmont, Thompson said he’s gearing up for work at the Buffalo Ranch development near Harrisburg, N.C., as well as the future site of IKEA in Charlotte. The Buffalo Ranch job will entail moving approximately 350,000 cu. yds. (268,000 cu m) of dirt.

“There’s a lot of work out there,” Thompson said. “We’re in the right location.”

To keep up with the work, he looked toward Komatsu and Linder Industrial Machinery.

Among the newest components of Thompson’s fleet are: a Komatsu PC300HD excavator, a Komatsu PC300LC excavator, two Komatsu HM300 articulated dumps, a Komatsu WA250-5L wheel loader, a Komatsu PC300LC excavator and a Komatsu D39PX excavator.

The contractor is running nearly 70 pieces of equipment, which are spread among five job sites.

Thompson said he’s been running Komatsu equipment for 14 years. He has remained loyal because of the “dependability” of the machines and the service he has received from Linder.

“When you go to the machines to get on them, you know they’re going to do what they’re supposed to do,” Thompson said. “And when they don’t, [Linder] is only a phone call away.”

Lake Wylie will feature 1,030 homes ranging from $200,000 to $1 million in value. The Vineyards on Lake Wylie is being developed by the Provident Development Group and the homes are being built by D.R. Horton. The general contractor for Phase I is W3 Contractors of Greenville, S.C.

Phase I includes 180 acres (73 ha) of clearing, 720,000 cu. yds. (550,000 cu m) of excavation, installation of 25,745 linear ft. (7,800 m) of storm drainage and 117,000 sq. yds. (99,000 sq m) of asphalt paving. Thompson has between 17 and 24 employees at the Lake Wylie job site daily.

Clearing and Grading

Since Thompson’s crew is working alongside Lake Wylie, the watershed restrictions have been the most challenging aspect of the project.

“The logging, stumping and grinding for each 25 acre tract must be complete before we can move on to the next tract; and essentially all of the cleared material will be ground to mulch and used for stabilization and landscaping for the project,” Thompson added.

Three Komatsu PC 300s (one each equipped with a bucket, grapple and shear) were integral in the clearing process.

“Erosion control is also an important factor in the progress of this project,” Thompson said. “All erosion control must be in place as designed for a specific 25 acre tract before another 25 acres can be disturbed.”

Equipment used for grading includes Komatsu D155, D65 and D61 dozers; Komatsu PC300 excavators, Komatsu HM300 articulated trucks, Ingersoll Rand rollers and Caterpillar 815 rollers.

Construction of the Building Pads

Thompson surveyors used Topcon GPS survey equipment for the construction of the building pads. They were purchased from Rodney Thomas at Benchmark Tool & Supply Inc. in Concord, N.C.

“The coordinate information is loaded into the GPS system, which control the equipment that cuts the depths of the grades on the pad,” explained Thompson. “The cuts have been confirmed by an outside source to verify the accuracy of their locations and elevations. So far, they have been perfect.”

While this wasn’t the Thompson crew’s first time in the field with GPS — they’ve used it on four or five other sites in the past two years — Thompson still sings its praises.

“You don’t really know how you got by without it,” he said.

Without having to stake-out the land until the curb and gutter part of a job, Thompson said GPS has saved a lot of time, which enables the company to take on more projects.

Thompson now has six Topcon GPS 3-D machine systems.

He said the learning curve of his operators was only a couple of days — and that was just a matter of them getting used to looking at a monitor instead of stakes.

According to Thompson, two full-time pipe crews have been assigned to the project to install the storm drain system. Equipment used for laying the pipe includes a WA250 loader to place the material in the locations and a PC220 excavator to lay the pipe.

Approximately 17,700 linear ft. (5,400 m) of RCP pipe is planned for this project; however this quantity is expected to rise with revisions.

“Other than the watershed restrictions, everything that we have encountered on this job, we have encountered before during our 13 years of being in the business; and the work is on schedule,” Thompson said.

Site development of Phase 1 began in September 2006 and is expected to be complete this fall. As of mid-February, Thompson said work was approximately 40 percent complete.

Thompson Grading provides total site preparation clearing, grading storm drainage, curb, paving, sewer and water and grassing for both residential developments and commercial projects in North and South Carolina. CEG

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