Volvo Makes Tracks in Hilton Head Soil

Mon December 01, 2003 - Southeast Edition

In the wet soil of Hilton Head, SC, the arms of Volvo excavators reach high up into the blue skies. Beyond them, articulated trucks cut through mud in preparation for new development.

And in what is becoming the highly-developed Lowcountry of South Carolina, P.B.G. of Hilton Head, based in Bluffton, SC, is developing an approximately 6,000 acre (2,428 ha) residential development that will include a total of 5,000 new homes.

P.B.G. is currently doing all the infrastructure work on the site, including underground utilities, water, sewer, drainage and road building, said Ed Altizer, P.B.G. general manager.

Although construction of the new homes began in the early 1990s, the company started its work in February 2001. More than 100 crewmembers work six days a week on the project, which is running on schedule and is projected to be in the works for the next five years. Since P.B.G. began working at the site, the cost has reached $30 million.

Ground that is excavated from the site is being used as fill, meaning that dirt does not have to be brought in or the excess hauled out. Yet, with the moist consistency of the ground, moving the dirt on site has challenges of its own.

“Trucks have had problems with the wet soil,” said Altizer. “Volvo is the only equipment that can be productive in these soils.”

With more than 50 pieces of equipment on the job site, P.B.G. currently is using 20 Volvo off-road articulated trucks, a number of EC460 Volvo excavators and five Volvo L120 loaders. The company purchased its Volvo equipment from L.B. Smith in Savannah, GA.

“L.B. Smith has excellent service and prompt response to all mechanical needs and repairs,” said Altizer. “They service their equipment on a regular basis.”

On low-lying Hilton Head, the marshy, murky soils can become something of a “Lowcountry gumbo,” especially when it’s raining, said Frank Dabbs, L.B. Smith salesman. “Four P.B.G. pipe crews, under the supervision of Mike Roach, were having some problems with a number of rubber-tire loaders. So we installed skidder tires for better traction.”

On Oct. 16, L.B. Smith held a barbecue on the job site, with nearly 60 P.B.G employees in attendance. The dealership showed off a Volvo EC25 mini-excavator and a Volvo MC110 skid steer with attachments –– a power rake and bucket fork. Sergio Garcia, of P.B.G, took home the raffle prize –– a new 25-in. color television, and Michael Jackson, also of P.B.G., took first place in the excavator obstacle course.

Billy Silas, P.B.G. president and owner, founded the company in 1996.