Automating the Art of Interior Demolition
Bader Demolition pioneers robotic equipment in South Florida
With more than two decades of experience under their belt, the Bader family knows a thing or two about the construction industry.
“My grandfather started a general contracting business in 1994,” says Gisselle Bader, owner of Bader Demolition, a subsidiary of Bader’s Group LLC and a minority- and woman-owned business enterprise, based in Lantana, Florida. “Over the years, the company has expanded into providing myriad services, including construction, remodeling, renovation and air conditioning repairs. While my dad and grandfather worked tirelessly to diversify the company, stepping into the family business was never really on my radar. Working in the construction industry is not something that most women seek out.”
Bader graduated from college with a business finance degree and began her career working for an asset management firm. “When I saw my dad’s company start to grow as he acquired more interior demolition work, that’s when my interest in joining the family business shifted.”
Today, Bader Demolition is 15-employees strong and specializes in providing interior demolition and concrete cutting to commercial and industrial clients throughout Central and South Florida.
“Most everyone is familiar with the pros and cons associated with working in a family-owned company,” Bader says. “Our situation is a little unconventional because it’s a father-daughter duo working in a male-dominated industry, instead of the traditional father-son team. This unusual dynamic impacts our company across the board. My father has worked in the construction industry for a long time and tends to be more old-school in how we should conduct our business. As a female with a finance background, I bring a different level of organization and approach to our company’s culture, which is probably a little more progressive than what is traditionally seen.”
As is true in most industries, the evolution of technology brings new ways of doing business. When Bader took over the company reins from her father in 2013, one of her initial goals was to improve the company’s efficiency and productivity. She believed that innovative tools could play a key role in getting them to the next level.
“Most people had never heard of robotic demolition a few years ago, ourselves included,” Bader says. “My dad and I were attending a safety course when we first learned about the versatility of this high-tech equipment. We started doing some research and discovered that remote-controlled demolition machines were one of the directions in which our industry was heading. We also learned that Brokk was the leading manufacturer of demolition robots.”
Bader Demolition purchased its first Brokk machine in December 2016. The company has since purchased a second machine and is considering adding a third one. Weighing a little more than 2,000 pounds, the electric-powered Brokk 110 is compact, measuring only 31 inches wide and 45 inches tall. The genius of its small size enables the machine to maneuver through most interior doorways and reach limited-access worksites. The demolition robot can also climb stairs, fit inside an elevator and be carried on a small truck.
“Using this robotic equipment has enabled us to create a niche of demolishing spaces where only a machine can fit, such as bank vaults, or where there are load restrictions on the floors,” Bader says. “We are the only company in South Florida providing this advanced and specialized service.”
Bader says that other general contractors have been impressed with the efficiency of the Brokk, which, on average, allows her company to complete jobs in about a third of the time as compared to other traditional methods. Bader also estimates that the company saved about 20 percent in labor costs during the first year of using the machine.
But Bader adds that while clients also love the machine when they see it, it hasn’t been the easiest concept to market.
“We are competing against low labor pricing throughout southern Florida, which can be somewhat difficult to beat,” she says. “Because this robotic equipment is very expensive to purchase, it’s not economical for us to bid on certain projects, such as a complete structural demolition where an excavator can demo the site pretty quickly. However, for specialized projects, the Brokk is a powerhouse and can save the client money overall. The value of what this little machine brings to the table becomes apparent when we complete a challenging project on time or ahead of schedule.”
It Takes A Village
From their OSHA-certified technicians to their project superintendents, Bader Demolition prides itself on the efficiency of its team because of the employees’ collective experience. And because the company is also state-certified as a building contractor, team members have an innate understanding of how things get built, which gives them an advantage when they are doing demolition work.
“As soon as we are awarded a contract, my dad and I walk every project and outline a basic game plan as to how we want to approach the demolition,” Bader explains. “We then mobilize on-site and get our project team involved from the beginning. Since our technicians are the ones doing the work, we actively seek their input and suggestions. Not only does this help to make them feel valued and part of the team, but they usually come up with some very creative ideas that we often implement,” she says. “When all of our heads are collectively working together in regard to how we’re going to demolish a space, that’s when Bader Demolition is at its finest.”