Cleared for Construction
Precise planning is a must for demolition contractor TAMCO Construction, Inc.
When Tammy Johnson sees a slice of real estate that has served its purpose—a place that has perhaps become the graveyard of its former daily activities and now impedes new life—she kicks into problem-solver mode, recycling what can be saved, but removing it all either way.
That mode suits her well. Johnson is President of TAMCO Construction, Inc. (TAMCO), a certified woman-owned business. She guides the demolition company to be the go-to problem-solver for general contractors or property owners needing commercial or industrial property cleared of debris so new construction can occur there.
The process is straightforward. TAMCO gives free consultations for its demolition or dismantling services and recycling or removal work. If approved, the work begins with Johnson’s company bringing in heavy-duty equipment to remove steel, concrete, brick, timber and any other structural materials.
Precise planning is a must, the work is hard, safety is mandatory, tons of material gets transported out, and the end result is transformative. In time, if new construction, remodeling or repurposing work comes next, the property might be unrecognizable to the people who pass by daily.
Johnson’s company—based in Pipersville, Pennsylvania, located between Philadelphia and Allentown—strives to bring another advantage to contractors: green demolition. TAMCO is always looking for ways to decrease the percentage of construction debris that goes to a landfill and increase the percentage that can be recycled or reused. Often, TAMCO achieves as much as a 75% recycling standard.
“When you demolish a building, the steel, timber and concrete can usually all be recycled so only 25% needs to go to a landfill,” Johnson says. “Before you demo, take a look around and take stock of things that can be recycled. Many will be surprised at how much material can be repurposed or recycled. Reusing or recycling these products allows for the preservation of our natural resources, along with significant cash benefits for a business.”
TAMCO’s work often produces one or two coveted points in the industry-standard green building certification program known as LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). In the schematics for LEED-NC (new construction) and LEED-EB (existing buildings) designations, when a building project diverts 50% of the debris from landfills through recycling, one point can be added to the total to rate environmental efficiency. If another 25% is diverted, for a total 75%, a second point can be added.
Up for the Job
When TAMCO inspects a site due for demolition, the crew identifies which materials are recyclable and which aren’t and then creates a plan for what to do with it all. Johnson also owns a trash transfer station—making the demolition process even more seamless.
TAMCO can either relocate construction debris for processing or set up recycling capabilities on the very site being demolished. Customers appreciate both options.
“You can’t do a huge demolition project by yourself,” Johnson says. “We think this is a given, but we’ll say it anyway. Hire us for any big project you may have because that is the safest way to get things done when you’re talking about commercial and industrial demos.”
The company has an excellent safety record, evident in its Experience Modification Rate (EMR) and its Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) as tracked by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Advising property owners about the various aspects of a successful demolition is also part of TAMCO’s job. Even though the company does not use explosives, its big machinery and crushing activities can create concern among those living or working near a demolition site. TAMCO suggests communicating with nearby residents or neighboring business owners and operators about demolition plans.
“If there is another business nearby or you need to demo near a residential area, take a bottle of wine or send a nice gift basket to your neighbors,” Johnson advises. “It’s good to play nice. Trust us, you’ll want the patience and understanding of those around you.”
TAMCO sets high standards for training its 25 employees. Its team members have OSHA certification—practical working knowledge that Johnson describes as “the rules and regs of doing anything: excavation or demolition.”
Her foremen have the extensive 40 hours of OSHA training certification. TAMCO also requires extensive HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) credentials. These are OSHA’s requirements for individuals who lead field crews that will be exposed to toxic or hazardous materials—cleanup crews, demolition workers and even emergency service personnel.
“I have hardworking, dedicated employees who are good to work with, good at multitasking and problem solving,” she says.
The company also values both youthful energy and ideas as well as the knowledgeable experience of longtime employees. Many of TAMCO’s employees are young, but some have been with the business for 10 to 15 years and are well qualified for any demolition project because of their years in the field.
“Every job is different in the demolition world, and it’s good to have the older, wiser guys on-site, too,” Johnson says.
Johnson has been at the helm of TAMCO since its start in 2001. Before that, she was surrounded by others in the field, including her husband and his parents. And before TAMCO, she worked for two other construction companies; over time, her experience and knowledge aligned with her leadership abilities, so she started TAMCO.
She exhibits a keen planning mind, a knowledge of all aspects of demolition and construction, a driven desire to prioritize environmental choices, and a can-do attitude.
In addition, Johnson can quickly calculate which equipment matches best with any given project, which employees should be assigned and how to navigate potential problems.
TAMCO maintains a fleet of vehicles and equipment suitable for any job: six hydraulic demolition excavators, a concrete mobile crusher, a screener, an extended-reach excavator, loaders, a bulldozer and forklifts. The company also owns numerous specialty attachments (shears, grapples and hammers) for the hydraulic excavators as well as standard demolition equipment.
The pride of the company’s garage is what Johnson calls “one of the largest excavators on the East Coast.” Extending to an 85-foot reach—enough to work on a building three to four stories high—the Komatsu PC400 excavator also gets rented out to other companies because of its exceptional reach.
TAMCO continues to pursue construction demolition jobs beyond Pennsylvania. The company regularly works in the nearby states of Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware and has also completed demolition projects in Tennessee, Illinois, Texas and California.
‘X’ Marks the Spot
TAMCO has successfully cleaned and cleared warehouses, office buildings, chemical plants, churches, schools and more.
In Frenchtown, New Jersey, the company demolished five buildings and one 125-foot water tower. The site where a 100-year-old industrial porcelain factory stood was slated to become a 100-unit housing development.
Such projects get employees’ juices flowing, says Johnson. They enjoy the challenge, using sophisticated, heavy-duty equipment to do the job, processing tons of debris and recycling much of it, meeting deadlines and gaining the satisfaction of accomplishing the mission up to specifications.
Another recent favorite was the demolition of the former Victor Balata manufacturing plant in Wilson Borough, Pennsylvania, on a site that eventually became the home to a new Lidl supermarket. Over a six-month period, TAMCO recycled on-site 50% of the debris by dividing materials into piles of concrete, brick, steel and wood. The total amounted to 1 million pounds of recyclable material.
The highlight of the Wilson project, according to Johnson, was knocking down a 200-foot water tower. “We tripped the tower just the other day,” she says. “I put an ‘X’ on the ground and said, ‘I’m landing it here.’ ”
It landed right there, proving again the expert precision that Johnson brings to the construction demolition business.