J. Westmoreland Inc. Combats Tight Construction Timeframes with Reliable Compact Equipment
Once the owner of an established fast food restaurant decides to replace it with a new building, there is a very important clock that starts ticking with a heightened sense of urgency. Within 90 to 100 days, the new restaurant has to be open for business.
For a builder like Venture Construction Company that is common. The 47-year-old firm, which specializes in restaurant and retail construction, has completed more than 15,000 projects, including building or re-building almost 1,000 McDonald's restaurants.
"Since we built our first McDonald's restaurant in 1974, the focus of every restaurant owner has always been on not losing any more sales than they have to when a property is torn down and replaced by a new one at the same location," says Larry Vickery, Senior Vice President of Venture Construction Company at the Greensboro, North Carolina, branch office. "Opening the door as soon as possible is the main goal of everyone involved, including the sub-contractors we hire. There is no margin for error."
Firms that Vickery contracts to help on these types of projects need to have plenty of resources (dependable employees and versatile equipment), flexibility in scheduling and the ability to work fast and efficiently.
In the Greensboro area, J. Westmoreland Inc., a well-respected contractor that started in 1967, is the perfect fit.
"It's very important to our clients that we can put enough equipment on the jobsite - and leave it there as long as necessary - to get the work done quickly," says Tom Westmoreland, President of the firm headquartered in Kernersville, North Carolina. "In the restaurant construction business, tight timeframes are standard. Everyone wants their location to start generating income as soon as possible. We all understand that."
Open for Business in Three Months
At the rebuilding of a McDonald's restaurant on Cone Boulevard in Greensboro, the typical 90-day schedule for Venture Construction was expanded to 105 days because the job was slightly more complicated: the structure had a basement and the weather turned bad.
Westmoreland's assignment was to tear down the building, fill in the basement, re-grade the entire property, dig the footings, improve the storm sewer and enlarge the acreage. After demolishing the structure with a large excavator, he brought in several Bobcat compact machines to complete the work.
A compact excavator dug the footings and installed the drainage system, a couple of skid-steer loaders placed the demolition debris in trucks for removal to Westmoreland's sanitary landfill and two compact track loaders filled in the basement and graded the property.
"We usually give the Westmoreland firm one to two weeks to get to the footings installation phase," says Vickery. "They are often done within a week. Since they are typically working around us when construction begins, the schedule is not totally rigid. They do such a good job, with not a lot of wasted motion, that we know the project will continue to move forward."
On this job, and others, Venture Construction uses a simple, but very effective, plan to keep the work flowing efficiently. While Westmoreland and his crew are handling their assignments, other sub-contractors rotate around the site so each trade chases the other clockwise around the building. Utilities, fine grading, gravel and concrete curb placement follow rough grading.
"With the correctly sized Bobcat machines, the Westmoreland employees are able to handle a variety of jobs while the project evolves," says Vickery.
For two decades, Westmoreland has provided a wide variety of services for Venture Construction Company - exterior and interior demolition, grading, installing drainage systems and retention ponds. "In fact," says Vickery, "the company has done just about anything you can think of involving the soil. Plus, they dedicate several Bobcat machines to each jobsite so the equipment is available whenever we need something done."
To provide a sufficient amount of equipment at every location, Westmoreland has invested heavily in Bobcat products: 20 compact track loaders, six skid-steer units and four compact excavators. It is not unusual for him to have five machines stationed at each jobsite.
"I have several large excavators and wheel loaders," says Westmoreland, "but the Bobcat machines make me substantially more money. The loaders are more versatile and can load trucks twice as fast as the larger wheel loaders. There is a reason I own so many of the Bobcat brand - they produce results on the job and in the pocketbook."
Changed From Residential to Commercial
Westmoreland's father, Jim, started the company in 1967. Initially the focus was on installing septic tanks at residential sites. By 2007, most of that work was gone as home building slowed.
"The transition to all commercial was easy," says Westmoreland, "because we had invested wisely in Bobcat compact track loaders. Those machines replaced much of the bigger equipment when we started doing restaurant projects on smaller sites. The people I was bidding against had larger machines and I believe the smaller compact track loaders gave me an advantage."
Today, Tom manages over 30 employees at the company. Other owners include his parents, Jim and Lib, and his sister, Sarah Westmoreland Hutchings. He has enough volume of work to put eight to 10 crews out on site every day.
"They all have the same assignment: do quality work, do it safely and, most importantly, do it quickly," he says. "Before consumers can return to their favorite fast food restaurant, we bring a different kind of fast to the site."