Smart Investments: Equipment That Compliments Concrete Pumps

As concrete pumps have become workplace fixtures, some owners have added complementary services to sell. Maturing businesses recognize that diversification can add profits when a new service is added that fits their established market. Two added services have been embraced successfully by pumpers and contractors who use concrete pumps as a part of their business. Here’s how two contractors have integrated aggregate placing equipment and Laser Screeds into their businesses of pumping service and poured wall contractor.

In 1987, brothers Marlin and Terry Schneip moved from their father’s Kansas-based concrete contracting operation to start their own poured wall company, Poured Foundations, Inc. in St. Paul Park, Minn. After renting concrete pumps for several years, Poured Foundations became one of the first poured wall contractors in the area to own a boom pump when they invested in Schwing’s 32-meter truck mounted concrete pump with 4-section placing boom. “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Terry. “I purchased the pump in ’98, but I wish I’d done it a year sooner. There are so many benefits to owning your own pump. When you’re renting, it’s like an apartment; you never get ahead financially. By owning your own pump, you see a return on your investment.”

For several years, Poured Foundations also rented stone slingers to accompany the pump to job sites to provide rock for basements and to solve bad soil issues. The contractor immediately recognized the versatility of the machines and considered the scheduling advantages and potential profitability of owning their own conveying equipment. Investing in two stone spreaders seemed the perfect solution to make their pumping operation more efficient.

“We already had a pump, so we had no need for the hoses or booms you can get on a Telebelt, and these tight residential job sites just don’t allow for a piece of equipment that size, much less the two or three trucks needed to do the hauling. With the stone slinger, I can do it all with one machine. Not to mention it was a cheaper investment than a telescopic conveyor.”

Mounted on a standard, three-axle truck chassis, the economical machines allow for compact set up on the job site. With a remote-controlled load suspension beam and swing frame, the conveyor has a 65-foot slinging range. For Poured Foundations, the stone spreader has proved to be the perfect accompaniment to the Schwing pump.

“We use the stone slinger to place rock in basement excavations so we can pump the footings and walls on top of a good bed of stone. We lay rock on messy sites, particularly in the winter, so we can drive the pump right to the edge of the pour. The mixers don’t even get their wheels dirty,” said Terry.

The contractor has also discovered several other applications for the stone slingers. Poured Foundations has been commissioned to complete a variety of jobs including filling swimming pools, landscaping, and filling empty oil tanks. “They are the perfect addition to my fleet,” confirmed Terry Schneip, “Just like the pump, they should have been part of our operation right from the beginning.”

Armed with their 32-meter Schwing, Poured Foundations is converting mid-western builders from block to poured walls. “Nobody had ever approached these builders about the advantages of a poured wall over a block wall. Typically, they were just going with whatever is cheap. But with block walls you’re risking the invasion of more moisture, more hydrostatic pressure, and eventually collapse. Those aren’t problems with poured walls. By educating people on the advantages, we’ve certainly found our niche in this area,” said Terry.

After 16 years, Marlin and Terry are still on the job site with their pump operator nearly every morning and throughout the job, coordinating ready mix trucks and crews With 15 employees, reliable pumping and conveying equipment, and working relationships with a dozen builders and developers, Poured Foundations averages between 175 and 200 foundations a year.

A more common piece of equipment that is showing up in more and more concrete pumper yards is the Laser Screed. Somero Enterprises, with locations in New Hampshire, Michigan and England, was founded by concrete contractors to provide the industry with a tool to make concrete construction more efficient, productive and profitable. Today, pumping operations are realizing that Somero Laser Screeds, profiler systems, topping spreaders and placers are the perfect accessories for their pumping fleet.

“We’ve got testimonials,” said Tom Oury, President of Somero Enterprises, “With Laser Screeds in particular, pumpers not only diversify their capabilities, but accelerate project schedules and increase their profits. It makes perfect sense for a pumping operation to invest in this equipment.”

As with stone slingers, ownership of Laser Screeds allow pumping and concrete contractors to profit through labor savings, and provide a service that actually benefits their pumping operations through faster job completion and less wear and tear on the equipment. They also like the convenience of working on their own schedule with no coordination with a sub-contractor or rental service.

Champion Concrete Pumping, Inc., a pumper in Idaho, Washington, and Western Montana, utilizes 15 concrete pumps in their operation, including 10 boom models ranging in lengths from 17 to 42 meters and five line pumps, all manufactured by Schwing America, Inc. Also a dealer/distributor of Schwing line pumps, Champion Concrete Pumping, Inc. recently discovered the advantages of owning and distributing stone slinging equipment. Three years ago, Champion purchased their first Soil-King stone slinger to expand their business into material delivery, and over the years have purchased two more for their own contracting operation. As a user and dealer/distributor of the manufacturer’s stone slingers, Champion has first-hand knowledge of the equipment’s capabilities.

Co-owners David Bertsch and Lee Roy Thompson saw the addition of conveyors as an important investment to their operation. “These conveyors are a package deal,” said Thompson, “There are no scheduling problems. We don’t worry about reserving equipment and coordinating different sub-contractors to complete the job for us. Employee training is an all-important component. The remote drive and remote steering systems are user friendly and greatly enhance material placement.” The rock slingers have a remote control option that allows the operator to position himself by the conveyor and operate the truck to spread stone continuously.

Champion uses their Soil Kings to complete landscaping and utility work for the company’s material delivery division, and finds their stone slingers are particularly useful in DOT work. One machine can deliver and distribute the stone and rock quickly without shutting down roads and shoulders to traffic. The slingers have also improved the efficiency of Champion’s pumping operation. The contractor uses the Soil King’s to spread 14 yards in 12 minutes when job site conditions need improvement.

“The landscape in Washington, Idaho and Western Montana where we operate is pretty rough. Ravines, hills and lakeside sites provide a challenge,” said Bertsch, “Creating roads and setup stations with the rock slinger helps make pump set up and ready mix delivery more efficient.”

“Any spot is accessible with a rock slinger, commented Bertsch, “They go where you need them to go. Our conveyors will set up anywhere and slew rock up to 75 feet over ravines, into ditches, and excavations. The engineering behind both the Schwing pumps and Soil-Kings have the same basic concept. Less labor, less equipment, greater profitability at the job site. That’s the bottom line.”