Tag Archive for 'highway construction'

Work Hard and the Money Follows

DeNucci Constructors LLC Meets the Challenges of Rapid Growth

By Richard Rybka

Take care of your biggest asset – your employees and customers.”

This statement by Paul DeNucci demonstrates his understanding that empathy is critically important to success in contracting. He has followed this mantra for the past 28 years. Equally important to his business philosophy are the words that has kept his company solvent and prosperous: “Work hard and the money follows.”

default

Since 1992, DeNucci has taken his company from a start-up to a highly competitive, multi-functional construction company in a tough market. It took more than a sound business philosophy to move through the ever-changing landscape of construction. Learning the company’s history and transitions will reveal the motivating factors that made his business a true success story.

Starting Out With Chains and Hubs

In 1992, DeNucci founded his company in Austin, Texas. That was back in the day when “technology” was a non-existent term in the construction business. For a site work contractor, that meant slow and tedious tasks for layout, grade staking, blue tops, and as-builts. A tripod-mounted construction level and a grade rod were the most innovative tools available for construction survey work.

Today, DeNucci Constructors LLC is a major player in the Austin construction industry. His company is licensed both as a commercial general building contractor and as a utilities construction company, providing services to public government entities and private customers. DeNucci’s typical mix of construction contracts includes residential subdivisions, assisted living facilities, sanitary and storm sewer systems, urban street improvements, and recreational parks. 

Rapid Growth Spurs Change

As of April 2019, Austin, Texas, is the fastest growing major metropolitan area in the United States. This growth spurt extends well beyond the city center area into five surrounding counties.

A contractor operating in this economic environment faces two challenges – increased competition and pricing pressure. DeNucci was determined to continue the growth of his company in this fast-changing market. Not quite sure of how the future of his company would unfold, he maintained an open mind and an expansive perspective.

“We were always looking for technology and other innovation to help give us an edge and increase production,” DeNucci said. Willingness to explore new options was and continues to be what keeps his company moving into the future. It also gave him the advantage he needed to stay ahead of the competition. 

Expediting the Transition to Technology

Coming from the old school way of doing things, DeNucci admits that he was a “hard sell” when it came to adopting GPS technology. 

He tried integrating GPS into his workflows, but was not having much luck with the first system he purchased. Looking for a better solution, he met John Favret in June 2015. Favret is Senior Machine Control Sales Specialist, based at GeoShack’s store in Austin.

The Austin location is one of 21 stores in eight U.S. states and has the resources to provide a total solution to its customers – the most advance technology products, highly competent sales consultants, and unlimited support.

Favret demoed Topcon’s HiPer V base and rover system to DeNucci, his son, Ryan, and General Superintendent Josh Walenta. With Pocket 3D software on the field controller, it is a perfect solution for layout, grade staking, and collecting as-built information. Quickly seeing how Topcon’s GPS system out-performed his existing system, he made the switch. He noticed a huge improvement in managing his subdivision projects. 

Within a few months, DeNucci became eager to explore machine control systems. He asked Favret to install a Topcon 3D-MC2 on a Caterpillar D8 Dozer. Shortly thereafter, another system was installed on a Caterpillar 140 M3 Motor Grader. 

DeNucci purchased his first Topcon 3D-MCMAX dozer system in August 2017. That was just the beginning. Today, the company owns three 3D-MCMAX-equipped dozers, one 3D-MC2 dozer, two 3D-MC motor graders, and two sets of Hiper V base and rover systems. 

A Typical DeNucci Project

Santa Rita Ranch, a premier master-planned community, is located in Williamson County, Texas. Upon completion of total build-out, the project will include approximately 6,500 homes located in nine distinct villages and more than 200 acres of commercial and multifamily development.

The site work, grading, and excavation required for the project includes construction of numerous water quality ponds, drainage structures, water and wastewater systems, lift stations, curb and gutter, HMAC paving, dry utilities, sidewalks, signage, and other amenities.

DeNucci explained how this complex project showcases the use of Topcon GPS systems for every phase of the massive development:

“Our Topcon equipment has allowed us to localize and seamlessly move from section to section within the subdivision, locate erosion controls and other items of work with our rovers, complete our rough cutting and lot grading operations with our 950 and D10 dozers with machine control followed by our motor graders with their machine control to complete the road base operations and final grading before the final HMAC installation.”

A Word from the Man in the Field

Josh Walenta has been with DeNucci for 13 years and experienced first-hand the growth and changes that have taken place. Walenta is the man who oversees the day-to-day field operations.

Before the company started using machine control systems, they depended on surveyors to set grade stakes and blue tops. Earthmoving and grade work depended on the schedules of others. Equipment and operators were often delayed from making progress on a job while they waited for layout information.

Walenta says the most significant advantages to machine control systems are speed and cost savings. “No waiting on anybody, no scheduling,” he explained. Once others set control points, there is no need for outside consultants.

default

Field checking, when necessary, is done with a Topcon HiPer V rover and Pocket 3D software. “Most of the time if there’s a question or problem you can check in on something with an existing elevation, like a manhole or an inlet, and figure out what’s going on – instead of waiting on someone or building it and having to come back and fix it later,” Walenta remarked.

When a Dealer Becomes Part of the Team

All the technology in the world cannot achieve its full potential without knowledgeable support from the supplier. It’s not just about selling a product and answering support phone calls. It’s about seamless integration of technology with the user.

John Favret received the highest compliment that a sales consultant can expect to receive from a customer. “John is an invaluable part of our team and his service after the sell is unmatched in our industry”, said DeNucci. 

GeoShack, Topcon, and Favret give DeNucci the advantage he needs to not just stay competitive, but to thrive in one of the toughest markets. It also gives DeNucci confidence in an ally that can help him control his company’s destiny. 

DeNucci claims an optimistic future for his company: “We look forward to continuing to grow with the Topcon products and utilize the ever-changing technology as they continue to innovate.”

For more information about GeoShack, Topcon GPS products, and Topcon machine control systems, go twww.geoshack.com

This feature appeared in the March 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

TRIP Report: DAVID KEARBY, CAE, TAPPED TO LEAD NATIONAL NONPROFIT TRIP

Dave Kearby, CAE,  has been named executive director of the Washington, D.C., based TRIP – a national transportation research nonprofit – effective January 24, 2020. Kearby succeeds Will Wilkins, who retires this year after 36 years of service at TRIP, 33 as TRIP’s executive director.

Dave Kearby, CAE

Kearby was named executive director after an extensive search process by TRIP’s succession task force. “We’re confident we’ve got the right person for the position,” said Ken Wert, 2020 TRIP Chairman of the Board. “Dave’s background in transportation and his familiarity in working with volunteer leaders will position him well as he takes the helm of this highly regarded nonprofit.” 

Kearby brings years of experience in the surface transportation field, having served as Central District Manager for the Associated General Contractors of Washington for more than a decade. In addition, Kearby served as chair and board member of TRANSAction, one of Washington State’s first regional transportation partnerships.

”I’m excited to be chosen for this position and am looking forward to leading TRIP into the 2020s,” said Kearby. “This organization has been a credible, highly regarded source on all things surface transportation related for nearly 50 years and my goal is to continue and enhance that reputation.”

Retiring executive director Will Wilkins said, “I know I’m leaving TRIP in good hands. Dave’s experience in surface transportation and his qualifications as a certified association executive make him the perfect choice to lead TRIP.”

Kearby was raised in the Yakima valley and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Central Washington University, a Master of Business Administration degree from Auburn University in Alabama, and is a Certified Association Executive. He resides in Washington, DC with his wife Sharon and daughter Alexis.

Founded in 1971, TRIP ® of Washington, DC, is a nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues.  TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers; businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction; labor unions; and organizations concerned with efficient and safe surface transportation.

Federal Highway Administration Repeals Proprietary Products Rule

How ARTBA Helped Make It Happen  

By Dave Bauer

Change is hard.  Change in the federal legislative and regulatory policy arena can be even harder. 

Dave Bauer

But as the famed 20th century American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead once observed: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Such a sentiment rings true as it relates to ARTBA’s volunteer leaders in the wake of a September 26 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announcement.  The agency said it was repealing the 1916 procurement rule prohibiting state and local governments from using patented or proprietary products on highway and bridge projects that receive federal funding —unless those products qualified for limited exceptions.

FHWA’s action was a direct response to ARTBA’s March 2018 petition, and it highlights once again a hallmark of the association’s value as a regulatory reform champion.

“Highway administration eliminates a pesky rule for states,” was the headline over a CQ News story, which recognized ARTBA’s lead role in “a concentrated campaign” to repeal the rule.

For those not well versed—which is most—on this archaic rule, it has obstructed state transportation agencies from utilizing patented or proprietary materials, specifications or processes on federal-aid highway projects.  It’s had the practical effect of hindering innovation and development of potentially life-saving technologies for use throughout the nation’s highway and bridge system. 

The repeal gives states the option to use patented and proprietary products on federal-aid projects if they choose to do so.  While the original rule was intended to preserve fair competition, a level playing field must not be confused with celebrating the status quo.  States now have the freedom to use federal funds on the full range of transportation products and solutions that best meet their needs.

A major regulatory achievement like this doesn’t just happen on its own.  For many years and during several editions of ARTBA’s Dr. J. Don Brock TransOvation™ Workshop, ARTBA members continually cited the rule as a barrier to innovation, in part because of inconsistent implementation of the waiver process among the states. 

Extraordinary leadership from ARTBA’s volunteer leaders also played a major role.  Hats off to Kevin Groeneweg (Mobile Barriers, LLC), who relentlessly pursued this reform for many years, and John Hillman (Parsons Corporation), a leading voice among industry innovators. Long-time industry leaders Trinity Highway Products, CRH Americas Materials, 3M and Transpo Industries also supported ARTBA’s legal efforts.

Another hallmark of a successful advocacy organization is the realization that the job is never truly done.

That’s why ARTBA is launching a working group from its eight membership divisions to share information and strategies to integrate proprietary products throughout the states.  We also will continue to spotlight the proprietary products issue as FHWA reexamines the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) later this year.  As Mead reminds us, it takes that “small group of thoughtful, committee citizens” to bring about real change.

Busy Week at ARTBA — Check It Out

ARTBA & Other Groups Urge Senate Vote on Highway Bill

October 18, 2019 

By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA

ARTBA and a cross section of nearly 40 national organizations representing business and organized labor are urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring S. 2302, the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), to a floor vote by the end of the year.

The Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee July 29 unanimously passed the ATIA, but “it is up to the rest of the Senate to take the next steps,” the groups wrote in an Oct. 17 letter to McConnell. (see below)

Those steps include consideration by the Senate’s Commerce, Banking and Finance committees. The Finance Committee is tasked with developing a way to pay spending called for by the legislation, which represents the first surface transportation program reauthorization bill in nearly 15 years that would significantly increase federal investment in highway safety and mobility improvements.

In urging McConnell to bring the bill to the Senate floor for consideration, the letter notes that “history has demonstrated that delaying action on such measures until their deadline leads to two outcomes: short-term extensions; and the disruption of state highway improvement plans.”

The letter praises McConnell for moving the last highway program reauthorization through the Senate after the EPW Committee passed it in June 2015, which “with your personal support, spurred action from other Senate Committees and the House of Representatives. This culminated in the enactment of the “Fixing America’s Transportation (FAST) Act six months later.”

The House of Representatives has yet to take any action to introduce similar highway program reauthorization legislation.

Summer Transportation Construction Work Hits Record $45.6 Billion

October 17, 2019

By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

Transportation contractors were busy this summer, with the value of work up across all modes in June, July, and August compared to the same three-month period in 2018.

Contractors performed a record $45.6 billion in transportation and transportation-related construction work, up 12 percent compared to the $40.8 billion put in place June through August 2018, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Highway and street pavement work has shown continued strength, with $21.7 billion in work between June and August 2019, compared to $19.6 billion in market activity through the same time period in 2018,” said ARTBA Chief Economist, Dr. Alison Black. “Work is also up for bridge, airport, transit, rail and port/waterway construction.”

ARTBA contractor members can have their say about what was going on by taking a few minutes to answer our third quarter industry conditions survey. The deadline is Oct. 28.

State and local government highway and bridge contract awards continue to show strength in some of the nation’s largest markets, Black said, including California, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and Virginia. Year to date, market activity is up 10 percent across all transportation modes.

Dr. Black will take a deeper dive into market conditions and federal, state, and local funding trends at ARTBA’s four upcoming regional meetings. Learn more and register here.

ATIA Group Letter to Senate Leader McConnell

October 17, 2019 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell 

Majority Leader 

U.S. Senate 

Washington, D.C. 20510 

 Dear Leader McConnell: 

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee’s America’s Transportation 

Infrastructure Act (ATIA), S. 2302, provides a rare opportunity to benefit all states and continue the nation’s longest economic expansion in history. While the EPW Committee has unanimously approved a critical federal infrastructure initiative, it is up to the rest of the Senate to take the next steps. 

We applaud EPW Committee Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member Carper and all committee 

members for proactively moving forward with a reauthorization of the federal highway program more than a year before it expires. History has demonstrated that delaying action on such measures until their deadline leads to two outcomes: short-term extensions; and disruption of state highway improvement plans. 

The ATIA is not only timely, but it would also deliver meaningful enhancement to the nation’s 

highway and bridge infrastructure network. It would provide historic investment levels, deliver 

beneficial projects faster by cutting red tape, tap private sector capital and innovations, prioritize safety, and improve the quality of life for rural and urban communities. The ATIA is an important foundation to begin addressing the critical need to modernize America’s infrastructure. 

The ATIA earned unanimous endorsement of EPW Committee members and supportive comments from President Trump. This unique show of broad, bipartisan cooperation speaks not only to the merits of the legislation, but also to its prospects for passage. The EPW Committee approved a highway program reauthorization in June 2015 that, with your personal support, spurred action from other Senate committees and the House of Representatives. This culminated in the enactment of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act six months later. 

We urge you to ensure the progress made on the ATIA continues by committing to schedule a 

reauthorization of the federal surface transportation programs for floor consideration this year. 

Such a pledge would be an unequivocal signal to the other relevant Senate committees to begin developing their respective components of the final bill. 

Sincerely,

American Road & Transportation Builders Association 

Associated General Contractors of America 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce 

American Society of Civil Engineers 

Associated Equipment Manufacturers 

The National Industrial Transportation League 

American Public Works Association 

Transportation Intermediaries Association 

National Association of Chemical Distributors 

North America’s Building Trades Unions 

International Union of Operating Engineers 

Laborers International Union of North America 

American Public Transportation Association 

Equipment Dealers Association 

Associated Equipment Distributors 

National Tank Truck Carriers, Inc. 

American Highway Users Alliance 

National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association 

American Council of Engineering Companies 

American Concrete Pipe Association 

Coalition for America’s Gateway & Trade Corridors 

Energy Equipment & Infrastructure Alliance 

National Ready Mixed Concrete Association 

National Steel Bridge Alliance 

Portland Cement Association 

Industrial Minerals Association – North America 

American Concrete Pavement Association 

Construction & Demolition Recycling Association 

American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) 

International Warehouse Logistics Association 

National Parking Association 

Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association (FEDA) 

National Association of Trailer Manufacturers 

Food Marketing Institute 

CCIM Institute 

Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association 

Associated Wire Rope Fabricators 

Building Owners and Managers Association 

Cc: All U.S. Senators 

Topcon’s Painter Moves To New Position

Bill Painter

Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) has named Bill Painter as global senior manager of 3D road construction.

Painter began his career in Minnesota working for several of the largest paving contractors in the Midwest and has more than 28 years of experience in the highway and heavy construction industries. In 1994 when Topcon acquired the machine control side of Agtek, he was named the company’s Midwest regional manager, based in Chicago. Four years later, he relocated to California to take on the role of service manager and was quickly promoted to become the Northwest regional manager for construction.

In his new position, Painter will report to Murray Lodge, vice president of construction sales.  Lodge said, “Bill’s extensive experience in construction and machine automation made him the clear choice for this new role. Few people in the company have the extensive knowledge about the industry and Topcon as Bill.”