For 28 years Doug Pawlowski has been removing concrete from driveways, parking lots, streets, factory floors and other locations, always focusing on working fast and minimizing the impact on his surroundings. A recent job put his experience, skill and equipment to the test in a unique setting.
His company, Douglas and Son Concrete Removal, was hired to remove two sections of 14-in. concrete along Jefferson Avenue, one of downtown Detroit’s busiest thoroughfares. The site was in front of the Renaissance Center, world headquarters for more than 5,000 General Motors workers and another 4,000 tenant employees.
Pawlowski and his crew took out 500 sq ft at one location and the same amount farther down the street. Another contractor—one of the 80 to 100 different ones he works for—bored between the two areas to install fiber-optic cable. The work had to be done in the evening when traffic would be lighter.
“The work wasn’t different from jobs we have done for decades, but the location presented some challenges,” said Pawlowski. “We started at 5 p.m. by closing one lane of traffic at the time when most people that work downtown were heading home. With thousands of pedestrians and plenty of vehicle traffic passing by, we had to do our job in a fairly confined work space. By having the equipment to complete the project quickly—we had our quad-axle dump truck loaded with broken concrete and gone by 10 p.m.—we were able to complete the job with no impact on everything that was going on around us.”
After saw cutting the steel rods and wire embedded in the concrete, Pawlowski climbed into his M-Series Bobcat S850 skid-steer loader equipped with a high-performance HB970 hydraulic breaker. The loader, a 92-hp machine, has a rated operating capacity of 3,950 lb and a reach of 12 ft.
“With a 33% increase in lifting capacity over my previous loader, I can handle larger pieces of concrete, which makes the jobs go much faster with many fewer trips from the work site to the truck,” he said. “The S850 provides 16 in. of more lift height, allowing me to load semi trucks. Overall, the loader has really helped improve our efficiency.”
The Power Bob-Tach attachment-mounting system saves time as well. As someone who changes attachments about 30 times a day, Pawlowski appreciated any opportunity to limit time-wasting activities.
“Everything about the S850 is geared to high production regardless of the application and jobsite location,” he said. “And the comfortable cab certainly helps me to keep working long hours.”
After making it through some tough years, especially 2009 and 2010, Pawlowski purchased the S850 in 2012 just as the economy was recovering. He wanted to do more work in less time and figured the machine, his first, was the best way to accomplish that goal.
“I always wanted a more powerful loader, but it had to be able to work for both residential and commercial applications,” he said. “It had to be small enough to get into limited-access areas, but strong enough to tear out thicker, heavier concrete. The street job in downtown Detroit is the perfect example of how the skid-steer loader combined those two traits.” R&B