Demo Diva

The Demo Diva gives New Orleans, and demolition, a makeover

“I came from a world where I had to decide whether to put organza on a tablecloth. Now it was juxtaposed against machinery.  I wanted to be right alongside the people. Demolition was it.”

— Simone Bruni

When Simone Bruni walks onto one of her jobsites, her employees know she’s there. It’s not just the pink that she nearly always is wearing. And it’s not just the fact that she’s a woman, not a typical sight in a demolition zone.

No, her employees know she’s there because of the energy she brings with her. Bruni has a boundless energy — a pacing, observing, critiquing, joking, and laughing kind of energy. It’s the larger-than-life kind of energy that stands out in any crowd.

And it can’t be missed when the crowd gives way to the steady churning of heavy equipment. She’s the Demo Diva after all. “You
definitely know it when she’s around,” says Tank Gillard, who operates one of Simone’s Volvo EC210C excavators, which is painted bright pink to be as conspicuous as its owner.

The story of Simone’s company is all too similar to that of New Orleans itself, built virtually from the ground up in the heart of New Orleans out of the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina. She left her life as a corporate event planner and launched into the hardened world of construction, which she admittedly knew almost nothing about.

But with a savvy bit of marketing, a heavy dose of strong sales technique and three of Volvo’s excavators, she’s built a business that’s positioned for the long run. Her pink excavators have been the talk of New Orleans, especially in the construction circles where the Demo Diva has fast become a rising player.

Scott Equipment Company LLC. “In demolition, a lot of it is the same. Same companies. Same equipment. It’s pretty cut and dried, and it’s usually not a pretty thing. But you know how demolition is — she makes it pretty. It’s unique. How else can you say it?”

Something to see
Her first purchase, just a year ago, was an EC210C. She leased another one about two months later. On order now is an EC210CLD, with Volvo’s full demolition package.

To fit with her branding, Simone painted each machine pink. The reaction, she says, has been amazing. You don’t see a pink
excavator every day. “Just this morning we were tearing down a residential house,” she says. “I had 10 neighbors come out to watch. They were like, ‘You go girl!’ They love it.”

Tank Gillard, Simone’s chief operator, says his Volvo is the best machine he’s run in his 17 years in the business. It’s quiet, he says, and has the requisite speed to keep up with him as he loads debris onto trucks to be hauled away.

On this morning, he was looking at a 1,700-square-foot home, rotted out by termites. It already had been a busy, attention-grabbing morning. Just getting the machine to the site meant passing
by a group of gawking school children, curious about the pink excavator. Sitting in front of the house, Tank was confident.

“Five minutes, it’s done. In five minutes, I’m walking on it,” he says.
That’s because, he says, of the power behind the EC210C. It’s equipped with Volvo’s 147-horsepower D6E engine. During his year
sitting in the cab of his Volvo, Tank has torn down everything from wood-framed houses to concrete-block commercial buildings.

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