Experts at Recycling and Reusing
Buccaneer Demolition Offers a Legion of Services
Buccaneer Demolition is not your typical subcontractor, says owner Jim Salata. “We offer an array of services that includes select structural and building demolition, architectural salvage, site clearing, excavation, saw cutting, complete interior tear outs and building shoring, and we partner with great subcontractors for asbestos and lead removal and soil remediation.”
Jim’s attraction to demolition started with his passion to preserve, reuse and/or repurpose materials in order to rehab historic buildings or for other purposes. Jim is President and founder of Buccaneer Demolition, Garden City Construction and Garden City Recycle & Salvage, all located in San Jose, California.
Jim started his first company, Garden City Construction, as a general contractor. “I love historical buildings and repurposing materials, so I wanted my company to connect to the longevity of San Jose, which is nicknamed ‘The Garden City’ for its role as the fruit and flower capital of the world in the last century,” Jim says. “As business grew, we were getting more requests for demolition work. I wanted to retain Garden City’s reputation as a general contractor, so in 1995 I started a demolition company and named it Buccaneer Demolition—because I have always been a fan of pirates. Being a pirate is an adventure, and they’re always looking for treasure. An interesting fact many people don’t know is the artist I hired to design the Buccaneer logo was a good friend of mine who coincidentally had a wooden leg. We used to go bottle digging together; he was a true Buccaneer.”
For more than 20 years, Buccaneer Demolition has been serving customers all over the greater Bay Area.
Although the companies are separate, they often coordinate on projects. Most of Buccaneer’s business comes through referrals from contractors, from Garden City Construction and from The Blue Book Network. “General contractors know our work and trust us, so they often want our companies to team up on a project, which is very beneficial for them,” Jim notes. “With SummerHill Homes, for instance, Buccaneer did the site clearing, and Garden City restored the Mirassou Winery and Mirassou family house. That was a perfect scenario for us and SummerHill was very happy with the arrangement.”
Buccaneer’s relationship with Garden City sets it apart from other companies, according to Jose Uribe, Vice President of Buccaneer Demolition. He oversees and manages all operations of the company. “We are not the usual demolition contractor in that we can provide a turnkey service on any project. This capability to perform additional services gives us an edge over the competition,” Jose says. “Our experience as a general contractor also gives us the opportunity to take on complicated demolition projects that others aren’t equipped to handle. We offer additional services, such as rough framing, shoring, seismic/retrofit work, permits, crushing and erosion controls, all of which can provide economy of scale and efficiency for our clients. When a project is complicated, our clients and competitors often say, ‘This looks like a job for Buccaneer.’ ”
Recycling and Reuse
A key part of Buccaneer’s wrecking, salvage and deconstruction process is determining how to reuse or recycle materials before the work even begins. Its team of resourceful people always finds creative ways to repurpose materials from its demolition work, which keeps the company—and its clients—above industry standards for recycling.
“We take great pride in finding creative solutions to keep materials out of the landfills, especially materials that can be repurposed, recycled or may have a historic value. When we started out, recycling wasn’t as popular,” Jim notes. “Now, every city has its own recycling requirements. Today, most cities require a 50 percent diversion rate and some are as high as 75 percent. This need to recycle is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. As a result, demolition costs are going up.”
This new trend makes it very important for Buccaneer to be budget conscious and environmentally responsible. When a client is going for LEED certification on the project, Buccaneer helps them identify which certification level—Silver, Gold or Platinum—can be achieved within their budget. “For example, on one project, we managed to salvage 85 pallets of bricks that would have otherwise gone to the landfill. We were able to clean, stack and palletize the brick for reuse, which helped the client achieve the LEED credits without impacting their bottom line,” Jose says. “Not many companies would have taken these steps, as it is very labor intensive. However, if planned properly, the value of the salvaged material will pay for itself—it’s like finding a treasure,” Jose adds.
“On our Hanover Cannery Park project in San Jose’s Japantown, we managed to deconstruct 180,000 board feet of lumber, which was challenging but quite an achievement. By taking these extra steps, most of our projects come in well above industry standards at an 80 to 95 percent range.”
Two projects obtained unusually high recycle rates. The first was a project with Sand Hill Property Company to demolish a 145,000-square-foot building at the Mowry Crossing shopping center in Newark, California, that achieved a recycle rate of 97.46 percent. The second was a LEED Gold Certified project in San Jose with SARES•REGIS Group that obtained a diversion recycle rate of more than 95 percent. It involved clearing a two-acre site for development of a 232-unit apartment building. Buccaneer removed five structures totaling 57,000 square feet and 40,000 square feet of parking area. An added benefit of this project was salvaging some treasures, including a Firestone Medallion and an old Salvation Army sign, and shoring a remnant wall. All of these are being reused as architectural features in the new development.
Some other interesting projects include removing a 34-foot concrete dive tower in Cupertino for De Anza College; demolishing a three-story building in downtown San Jose for Fairfield Residential; crushing 9,000 tons of concrete in Newark for Pulte Homes; performing a 100,000-square-foot interior tear out/market ready project in Santa Clara for South Bay Construction; deconstructing and shoring a two-story building in Palo Alto for DS Jordan Construction; and selectively demolishing and shoring a dealership in Fremont for Skender Construction.
Safety and Training
Visualizing the value in the salvaged materials can be difficult and is often overlooked. Before Buccaneer accepts a project, it uses an evaluation process to determine the potential outcome. “If we spot a salvage opportunity, we perform a cost analysis to see if it is worthwhile for us to do. If we want to go above and beyond the standard recycle rates we may experiment with other options to make it work,” Jim says. “Our knowledge of construction is valuable to our demolition customers because we’re able to identify issues and avoid problems to get the job done more efficiently. In addition, spending the time to try and save materials forces our crews to focus on how the building is built.”
After the initial assessment, the fun begins. “Our employees are trained to know what to look for, so when we start a project, everyone knows their role,” Jose says. “When we’re demolishing a building, we separate the building materials and try to sort every load. Any concrete gets crushed and reused, preferably on site. To get more credits for our clients, we also sort clean lumber.”
Most of Buccaneer’s staff have at least 15 years of experience, and as business grows, new staff comes on board. “We pair new staff with experienced ones so they understand how we operate. We train them in our procedures and always use a checklist and site hazard analysis to avoid problems,” Jose says. “Demolition can be a dangerous trade without proper planning. You can get injured if you don’t know what you’re doing. For instance, certain buildings need shoring and others do not, or sometimes it’s safer to do deconstruction by hand rather than use equipment. It’s a judgment call by the superintendent and the management staff. We always want all of our employees to be safe and at the end of workday to go home to their families.”
“Our knowledge of construction is valuable to our demolition customers because we’re able to identify issues and avoid problems to get the job done more efficiently.” Jim Salata, President and Founder, Buccaneer Demolition
Sharing Reclaimed Treasures
Jim, who is known as an expert in historic preservation, enjoys the benefits of finding reclaimed materials. “Because Garden City does rehab, we often reuse materials from one demo project to complete another current project. For example, we once demolished an 1880s-era building while also rehabbing a similar 1880s structure at a different location. We were able to reuse some materials from the demo on the rehab project and you could never tell the difference. I often drive Jose crazy with things like this because I see what can be done on the other end.”
Buccaneer looks at ways to help the community as well. “We just salvaged basketball equipment from a gym demolition that included hoops, padding, benches and a scoreboard that we were able to donate to the National Hispanic University in San José. Two years ago, we donated practically new playground equipment from a preschool demo to a school in Morgan Hill, a town south of San José,” Jose notes. “In 2016, we demolished a Sports Authority that was filled with several pallets of little league baseball equipment. We contacted the Sunnyvale Police Department to find a local nonprofit organization that could use all the equipment. The next day, people from the organization arrived and we helped them load all the equipment.”
The company also salvaged historic neon signs from various projects and donated them to History San José. “Last year we salvaged Mel Cotton’s and Greyhound signs,” Jose says. “Buccaneer has also donated materials to Habitat for Humanity and to Cristo Rey San José Jesuit High School through The Sobrato Companies.”
From the beginning, Jim Salata wanted his companies to stand out, have respectful staff and provide a service that was a cut above the rest. “Jose Uribe and Emmanuel Rios are virtually running Buccaneer themselves and are achieving and carrying on what we set to accomplish better than I could imagine,” Jim adds.