From nuclear facilities to creating habitats for albatrosses, no corners are cut with Northwest Demolition & Dismantling.
The year was 1954; President Eisenhower put forward a plan for the interstate, boxers Rocky Marciano and Ezzard Charles went toe-to-toe in two historic heavyweight bouts, Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and construction on Disneyland began. It was also the year that Portland-based U.S. contractor Northwest Demolition & Dismantling first opened up shop.
The company made a name for itself doing extensive work in the Pacific Northwest by demolishing housing blocks to make way for new commercial developments. Progressing from a small local contractor, the last 20 years has seen them become a sought-after firm focused on high-profile industrial decommissioning and environmental remediation projects. Its growth has also been made possible by being selective in the types of customers and partners they work with, as well as creative in the way it has customized its fleet of equipment.
“We’ve built the best fleet and the best team of people to do the safest, highest-quality work,” says David Williams, president at Northwest Demolition.
Tasked with the job of ensuring Northwest Demolition’s machines are fit for purpose is Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE). With no specification too unusual, the manufacturer has proven instrumental in guaranteeing Northwest Demolition maintains sky-high results.
The company’s excavators, in particular, are tailored and purpose-built to take on a variety of demolition tasks. “We’ll often take a standard excavator and put an additional $200,000 into it to make it specifically suited to one of our jobs,” says Williams. “Having a machine that can dig a 30 meter (100 ft) deep hole one day and be shearing steel the next is what ensures our machines and our people are never underutilized.”
The equipment is modified and delivered by Volvo CE’s dealer PacWest Machinery. A nuclear facility in Eureka, California, is just one example where a customized excavator was sent on a job. The work required the Volvo EC220 to be outfitted with remote control, including stainless steel high-temperature pipes with blowers that extract exhaust and heat away from the nuclear facilities.
“That’s a unique setup, just due to the nature of the site,” says Ed Kanable, sales representative at PacWest. “If any issues arise with the machine, we actually have 46 meters (150 ft) of ABS cables hooked up and run underground to a bunker where we connect the computer to the machine. If we have to go in and make a repair, it requires suiting up in full-body PPE equipped with video cameras and monitors.”
Never short of interesting sites, Northwest Demolition also stationed Volvo articulated haulers alongside excavators in Midway Atoll, an island in the Northern Pacific Ocean that is home to a World War II Naval facility. Tearing down buildings in support of the albatross (a threatened species of oceanic bird) population, the fleet consists of four Volvo A30 with extended dump bodies and two EC290C, which are equipped with MB jaw crushers that scoop up concrete from the buildings and crush it inside the bucket finely enough to be used as recycled beach material.
The company’s most recent equipment acquisition included the purchase of a new Volvo EC480E. “We took the EC480E base and modified it with a demo package, including heavy-duty doors, front corner guards, catwalks, underbelly guards, and a unique cab lift that raises up the cab and extends it forward by 2.5 meters (8 ft), so it really looks more like a scrap handling machine,” explains Kanable. “It’s a spectacular piece of equipment.” Additionally, the EC480E was outfitted with a custom boom foot to allow the demo firm to connect a previously owned 29-meter (95 ft) boom onto the machine and still allow for converting it back to a standard boom as needed.”
Needless to say, a lot goes into building a machine for Northwest Demolition, but thanks to PacWest’s approach, Williams has just one point of contact.
Kanable takes it upon himself to manage the customization process and represents all parties when making a sale to Northwest Demolition.
When it comes to aftermarket care, PacWest makes problem-solving easy. “We do 80 percent of the maintenance support and work,” says Kanable. “If something goes wrong with an attachment we can’t fix, we have the manufacturer take care of it, but my customer only has to deal with me.”
PacWest’s one-stop approach also extends into financing. Under normal circumstances, purchasing, financing and maintaining such highly customized machines with multiple third party attachments can become a complex process. But not with Volvo Financial Services (VFS) saving the headache of working with multiple parties. Kanable relies on George Weimer at VFS to ensure a quicker turnaround time. “If you have a new job coming through, and then you have to explain to multiple financing organizations exactly what your equipment and attachments will be used for, and then wait for them to do risk and pricing analysis before getting you an answer – that can be the difference between a job won or lost,” says Kanable
Williams says: “If you want to work with us, safety and quality better be your highest priorities, and the customers we work with are the ones who are willing to pay for a job being done the right way. We’ll keep relying on the approach that has made us successful up until this point, and PacWest and VFS have been a big part of that.”
“Northwest Demolition is an incredible group of guys to work with,” says Kanable. “They’re young, smart and out there to make their mark in the world – and they always give us a challenge. We do some really different things for them. The more unique, the better – and we always make sure it meets their needs and budget.”