Technology Integration Positions Colorado Contractor for Growth

May 26, 2022

Lance Latimer’s Colorado-based Alpine Civil Construction (ACC) had initially positioned itself as a general contractor with a specialty in slipform paving. However, based on the successful integration of GPS and GNSS technology and a stringless paving solution, the company quickly expanded into other areas, including mass excavation, grading, and utility work. Now Topcon GNSS-based machine control solutions play a major role in the ongoing growth and success of ACC. 

Alpine’s clients are the largest homesite developers in Colorado, and its services to those clients are invaluable. These developers have millions of dollars tied up in developments, but can’t issue a building permit until roads, ponds, and any special features are in place. That’s where ACC comes in.

“We’ve sped that process up considerably, using Topcon GPS technology on our excavators, dozers and motor graders — we even have machine control on one of our loaders which we use for fine-tuning grade with the roadbuilding crew,” he said. “Our operator loves it because he knows where grade is no matter where he’s at on the site. That makes it easy for him to work alongside a blade building sub-base for road prep. So, yes, we believe in the technology and our customers are beneficiaries of that belief.”

Recently, on one of those development projects, Green Valley Ranch (GVR), a John Deere 210 excavator was at work creating a retention pond — without a grade stake in sight. According to Seth Aberle ACC’s machine control specialist, excavators with GPS have all but eliminated the need for survey stakes in this type of work.

“This machine is running off a digital model and he will get this to within .1 of a foot,” he said. “Working off the screen, we will do the inlet, the forebays, the e-walls, everything. Early on, a number of our customers were skeptical of our reliance on GPS. But, after coming behind us with their own surveyors and seeing how accurate our work is, they’ve become believers in what we can do.”

Savings in Stringless

That reduction in survey costs is realized in the stringless paving operation as well. Latimer said an important part in discussions with new clients is to point out just how much they save by not having to pay survey to pound hubs and stakes in advance of the stringline crew.

Latimer also said he had known stringless paving technology existed, but not well enough to understand its real value. After doing some research, however, he began serious discussions with GOMACO and Topcon Positioning Systems.

As an example of how much better a GNSS solution can be, Aberle points to a project which involved paving 10,000 linear feet of 5-foot wide sidewalk. He estimates that using a traditional approach, the job with everything factored in — setup, moving the stringline and stakes, and teardown — probably would have taken close to two weeks.

“Using the Topcon Millimeter GPS system, we were able to get it all poured in three days,” he said. “That much of a reduction in time is huge because it opens up the developer’s window for getting permits and so on. We got on board with GPS early and it’s allowed us to really capitalize on it.”

Cautiously Optimistic

In less than five years, ACC has gone from a startup business with 14 people to a company of more than 120, serving some of the biggest names in Denver-area home development. Latimer says they are poised for additional growth, but will not grow simply for growth’s sake.

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