Recently, Pitsch Companies were low bidder on a Michigan DEQ-let demolition and soil remediation project in Grant, Michigan. Pitsch was tasked with demolishing an old gas station, plus the removal and replacement of approximately 2,700 cubic feet of contaminated soil under the old Mini-Mart. Founded in 1958 by Loren Pitsch, the Grand Rapids-based Pitsch Companies is now a second generation family-owned business run by brothers Steve and Lewis Pitsch who took over the business from their father in 1990.
A project like this would normally be old hat for the veteran demolition company, except for a key element to the soil remediation portion: the contract stipulated that an Efficiency Production manufactured Slide Rail System had to be used to shore the approximately 40 feet by 40 feet by 20 feet deep excavation.
“It wasn’t an issue of never having used Slide Rail before,” said Steve Pitsch, President of Pitsch Companies. “It was that this was the first time I’d ever heard of something called a Slide Rail System, and we’ve been in business for 60 years.”
Slide Rail System Perfect Match for Project Requirements
Efficiency’s Universal Slide Rail is a component shoring system comprised of steel panels — similar to trench shield sidewalls — and vertical steel posts. Slide Rail is installed by sliding the panels into integrated rails on the posts then pushing the panels and posts incrementally down to grade as the pit is dug; a process commonly referred to as a “dig and push” shoring system. A Multi-Bay configured system utilizes parallel beams and standard trench box spreaders as cross-members.
“One of the important advantages of a Slide Rail System over open-cutting is that there’s no over-digging; the excavation walls can be cut exactly vertical,” explained Tim Hurst, Head of Efficiency Production’s Special Operations Shoring Division. “This was a critical factor in the soil remediation, as the system keeps constant pressure against the surrounding dirt, allowing the exact amount of removal and replacement of the contaminated soil.”
“The ‘positive’ shoring system also creates a much tighter work area,” added Hurst, “which was very helpful working in Grant’s historic downtown area.”
It is unusual, but not unheard of, for a shoring system to be stipulated in a state-let project contract. However, the engineers at Superior Environmental, the environmental management company overseeing the soil remediation portion of the demolition, had good reasons to do so.
“Efficiency Production assisted throughout the entire design, development, and installation of the shoring system,” said Superior’s Project Engineer Corey Buckner. “Even before we bid the project, (Retired Division Director) Greg Ross talked us through the shoring process and how Slide Rail would work. We relied on Efficiency to examine the plans, and provide the engineering and design for the shoring on this project.”
“I felt Greg and his team had given us so much support upfront, that it only seemed fair to add Efficiency as a propriety line item for shoring equipment in the bid,” explained Buckner.
On-Site Installer Receives High Marks for Teaching Skills
Pitsch actually installed the 20-foot by 40-foot two-bay Multi-Bay configured Slide Rail System two times. They excavated and installed the shoring system to grade, replaced the contaminated soil with clean sand, then completely removed all the Slide Rail components before moving sideways 20 feet and repeating the whole process again with the same Slide Rail equipment.
Both Buckner and Pitsch had high praise for Efficiency’s Senior Slide Rail Installer and Shoring Specialist, Dan Meredith, who was onsite assisting with the installation. Said Pitsch, “We couldn’t have done this without Dan and his patient instruction.” Buckner concurred, saying, “I watched and saw how Dan really helped the contractor understand how Slide Rail works, in addition to actually helping the contractor install the system.”
Meredith was quick to return the praise. “For a demolition contractor to install Slide Rail for the first time, I was surprised at how well Steve’s crew picked up on the process of installing the system,” he said. “The Pitsch guys went much faster, and were definitely more efficient on the second install.”
‘Old Dog’ has Fun Learning New Tricks
Using a Volvo EC460-B Excavator, a Caterpillar 230D Excavator, a Caterpillar 950 Rubber-Tire Loader, and a Caterpillar 226 Skid Steer; Pitsch was able to install and remove the Slide Rail System – twice – in about five or six days.
“Coming from an outside industry, I found the Slide Rail System very easy to use,” said Pitsch. “Once we were awarded the project, I really started looking forward to it. It was fun to learn,” he added. “Even after 60 years, it’s exciting to be exposed to something new.”
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