CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT North America

US contractor makes right utility connections

Helping make all the right utility connections for New England is the job of Volvo CE-equipped gas and water work specialist, Barber Utilities.

Barber Utilities uses a Volvo excavator and front end loader on a project in New England

The legendary Volvo Ocean Race brings together Volvo customers and sailing enthusiasts alike, but not many would be inspired by the event to wrap his machine in the same distinctive blue livery. But that’s exactly what David Stavens did, following his tour of the Volvo CE factory in Belley, France. As the machines traveled down the assembly line, Stavens noticed the unchanging colors. “Everyone has yellow machines, so why not cover one in the ocean race blue?” says Stavens, adding the blue foil finish bears a remarkably close resemblance to Barber Utilities’ own company color.

Stavens, founder and owner of Barber Utilities, is no newcomer to construction equipment or civil engineering. Established in 1997, the company has built a solid reputation in the US state of Connecticut as a specialist in gas and water work, promoting it to main contractor status on many high profile projects. Barber Utilities also works with The Connecticut Water Company, installing water mains and services.

Flawless finish
Central Row is one such project that benefited from the efficiency and innovation provided by Volvo equipment. Working for Connecticut Natural Gas, Barber Utilities was given the task of replacing a leaking six-inch (152 mm) cast iron low-pressure main with a two-inch (50 mm) plastic pressure main beneath the main road in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. This included unearthing layers of concrete buried beneath the asphalt road and ensuring the protection of the century-old main line. Operating only the blue-painted Volvo ECR40D mini excavator, Barber Utilities’ five crewmembers worked 10-hour night shifts to complete the project on schedule.

Stavens owes the success of the project to Volvo, stating: “The ECR40D is small, but it does a lot – it’s nimble enough to dig through the maze of utilities, plus its weight class makes it easy to transport to different jobs every day.” Volvo ECR40D mini excavator painted in Volvo Ocean Race blue for Barber Utilities
Such is the variety of services offered that Barber Utilities decided it needed suitably versatile machines to support them. The company has built up its machine fleet to 25 – nine from Volvo. The machines have been supplied by long-time dealer, Tyler Equipment and span the size classes, including L180F and L70F front end loaders, and ECR40D, ECR58D, ECR88D, EC160C, 240B excavators, and a DD25 double drum compactor.

Maintaining the flow

The EC240B, EC160C and L70F recently completed a high profile project for Connecticut Natural Gas. The project – called the Coventry Expansion – tasked Barber Utilities with the installation of a five kilometer (3.2 mi) gas main extension, stretching from the city of Mansfield to office buildings in nearby Coventry, Connecticut. This included inserting an eight-inch (203 mm) gas main inside of a 12-inch (305 mm) steel casing – no easy feat for an ordinary machine.

“Whatever the environment, the Volvo machines thrive every time,” says Stavens. “One day, you could be in sand and the next in rock, but Volvo machines always stand up to demands of the job.”

All service and maintenance work is completed in-house, helping ensure the machines are working at their optimum levels. On hand to provide superior aftersales support is Tyler Equipment, which has worked with Barber Utilities for over 15 years.

“It’s important for machines to perform as they’re intended,” adds Stavens. “I try to give my crew the best tools for the job and Volvo fits the bill. They’re comfortable, easy to operate and most importantly, the operators feel confident behind the controls. When you’re digging around utility lines and don’t feel confident, that’s when something goes wrong.”

Luckily, with the support of Tyler Equipment and Volvo machines, it’s blue skies ahead for David Stavens and Barber Utilities, which is already digging deep on a new high profile project.