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Warner Bros. Takes Low Profile With Blaw-Knox Paver

Wed February 16, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Since its inception in 1928, Warner Bros. Inc. of Sunderland, MA, has been known for its quality work and low profile. That was the way the company’s founder, T. L. Warner, wanted it.

Now in its third generation of family management, Robert H. Warner Jr. and Paul H. Warner still want it that way. They prefer to let their work speak for them.

Although highway construction has to a large extent become highway maintenance, the company still considers itself a heavy and highway contractor: constructing and reconstructing roads, building bridges, treatment plants, pump stations, residential and commercial developments.

Company management does acknowledge that the company has changed somewhat. In fact it is this flexibility that has contributed to the company’s very survival. About 50 percent of its work now centers on hot mix asphalt (HMA) and associated industries. In addition to the hauling and laydown of hot mix asphalt, Warner owns and operates three asphalt plants, a quarry and several sand and gravel facilities.

Warner Bros. Inc. usually works within about a 2.4-meter (30 mi.) radius from its headquarters. This encompasses all of Western Massachusetts, from the Quabbin Reservoir to the east, and the New York line to the west. Because Interstate 91 bisects this area in a north/south plane, the contractor has found it very convenient to also do some work in the southern portions of New Hampshire and Vermont.

The company’s paving season is generally dictated by state specifications and is typically from April through November. About the smallest project the diversified firm will do is a 45-metric-ton (50 ton) driveway or a reasonably sized parking lot. It has also done work in the recent past on projects that have required tens of thousands of tons of hot mix asphalt.

The newest of the asphalt laydown machines the firm owns is a Blaw-Knox PF-4410 tracked paver with a 2.4-meter (8 ft.) Omni IA screed. In choosing this model machine, Warner had to “modify a long-standing policy of not purchasing the first run of any new equipment.” It did so for two main reasons, both of which center on reputation.

Warner Bros. Inc. has owned Blaw-Knox machines (it still owns and operates a 1994 PF-200B), so it knew first hand Blaw-Knox’s reputation for producing quality products. An equally important factor is Warner Bros. Inc.’s trust in its local Blaw-Knox dealer, W. I. Clark of Wallingford, CT, a firm with a well established reputation for sales, service and product support.

Equally bearing on the purchase was that the new model PF-4410 paver came along at just the right time. As Paul Warner said, “We were looking to go to a machine that had an 8-foot screed, continuous rubber tracks, modern electronics and the total capability to meet the various agency specifications. We had envisioned that such a machine would permit us to do a better job on the paving work that we undertake. We wanted to be fully up to speed to bid on the new SuperPave and QC/QA Commonwealth of Massachusetts projects. We didn’t want to be paving tomorrow’s highways with yesterday’s pavers.”

According to Warner Bros. Inc.’s Paving Superintendent Tom Norwood, “Many of the municipal roads and streets that we resurface are less than 20 feet wide. Widths of 18 feet or 19 feet wide are quite common and some are as narrow as 14 feet. With the 8-foot screed, our crews can eliminate an overlapping centerline joint. And, the continuous rubber track gives us the advantage of traditional track machine to pave on any base material along with the maneuverability and higher travel speed of a rubber-tired machine.”

Typical of the street resurfacing that Warner Bros. Inc. does in a more upscale, yet rather rural neighborhood, was a project it had in the southern portion of the town of Amherst, MA. Amherst, with a population of 15,000 full-time residents, is a college town. It’s the home site of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst College and Hampshire College.

The median income here and the cost of the individual residences are significantly greater than in many rural communities across the nation. Areas like this are often resurfaced before the roads deteriorate past the point of reasonable rehabilitation.

The Warner crew with the Blaw-Knox PF-4410 paver had a total of about 495 metric tons (550 tons) of MHD top mix to put down as a compacted leveling course up to 4 centimeters (1.5 in.) thick. This was put down on an RS-1 tack coat. Following these operations the Warner paving crew came back in and put down approximately 900 metric tons (1,000 tons) of similar mix as a surface course. This was 4 centimeters (1.5 in.) thick compacted. The crew did the project by allowing part of one day for each operation.

The streets in this section of the town varied from about 8 to 9 meters (26 to 30 ft.) wide with long curved transitions in several areas. According to Tom Norwood, the company was “part of a half-million-dollar street rehabilitation contract that Warner Bros. Inc. has.” The contract calls for the company to resurface a total of 21 streets, including some in the heart of the centuries old town where pedestrian density added another limiting production factor.

The contract with Amherst also called for additional resurfacing in the northern part of the town. Much of the downtown work was done during the summer months when the student residents and vehicle traffic congestion were greatly reduced. Warner Bros. Inc. hauled mix from its asphalt plant in Sunderland, about 10 miles round trip, in its modern fleet of more than 20 10-wheel dump trucks, each carrying about 20 metric tons (22 tons).

Paul Warner and Norwood are quick to point out the contributions made to the company’s venture into asphalt paving by the equipment dealer. In particular they pointed out that the company “depends on W. I. Clark for sales, parts and service support.” The same officials said that the technical support (in both classroom and hands-on training) from both Clark and Blaw-Knox “played a large percentage in the decision to purchase the two Blaw-Knox pavers.” They specifically mentioned Stuart Clark, Gary Cox, and Kevin Richard from the dealer and Larry Spring, factory product specialist.

(The preceding article appears courtesy of the Blaw-Knox Operating Strategy Report.)

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