A prominent New Zealand demolition company has celebrated its 25th anniversary by successfully completing a particularly complex and culturally sensitive assignment.
The achievement in the latter part of 2019 has been highly acclaimed by local authorities.
Wellington based Quality Demolitions and Contracting Ltd used a purpose-built Komatsu excavator to bring down an earthquake affected building next to the gravesite of one of the country’s founding fathers.
The company removed the eight story Wellington Electricity building with millimeter precision within touching distance of the grave of Chief Honiana Te Puni-Kokupa, who took part in New Zealand’s 1840 Treaty of Waitangi- the basis of the country’s constitution.
It is the latest in a long series of specialist jobs undertaken by a company formed quarter of a century ago by father and son team Gavin and Shane Gray.
Shane is now the sole proprietor of the business following his father’s untimely death just two years ago.
Precision and passion are the two cornerstones of the company’s success, a regime shared by its specialist employees.
The company has equipment on jobs across the country, including 14 large Komatsu machines.
It also has a strong policy of training and retaining skilled employees – the longest serving has been with the Gray’s company coming up to 20 years.
Quality Demolition and Contracting’s partnership with its principal equipment supplier Komatsu extends beyond 20 years and the Gray’s association with the machinery giant pre-dates the formation of their company.
Young Shane began driving machinery, a Komatsu PC300 earthmover, at just fifteen. He and his father joined an existing company and worked as a team before they took over the business while in decline, rebuilding it to become Quality Demolition and Contracting Ltd.
The growth in their business has coincided with a corresponding increase in commitment from their machinery supplier.
“Service is hugely important and since Komatsu moved to place dedicated mechanical assistance in Wellington through Machinery Specialist, we have had even greater confidence,” Shane said.
Quality Demolition and Contracting has outsourced some of its machinery monitoring directly to Machinery Specialist, relying on it for reports from its KOMTRAX on-board systems to help optimize machine use.
One of the company’s main machines, a Komatsu PC400LC-8R excavator, specially equipped with a high reach demolition boom, was at the heart of the assignment to remove the Wellington Electricity building’s superstructure without once having material fall on the neighboring Te Puni Urupa graveyard.
The PC400 has an arm length of 27 metres and is fitted with a Genesis multi-jaw pulveriser.
The operator used the Komatsu to delicately pick at the building’s superstructure and to clamp it securely.
“There was a purpose designed demolition plan to it, and it worked perfectly,” Shane said.
In truth, a lot of the success of the Wellington Electricity job, because of its precarious location, was the result of operator skill, experience, and the right tools for the job.
“There’s still not a lot of 3D mapping available in New Zealand, but it’s coming,” Shane said.
Site development continues to go from strength to strength. “Progressively, as we move into the future, we’re going to be able to use more of the Intelligent Machine Control (IMC) technology built into Komatsu machines.”
Trust between the two companies continues to grow.
At the end of 2019, Quality Demolitions and Contracting took delivery of three Komatsu excavators, a PC130-8, a PC300LC-8 and a PC35MR-5 building a strong base for consolidating the association between the two companies above and below 10-tonne fleet.
“The name of our company is a bit misleading,” Shane said. Quality Demolition and Contracting has a great dedicated team with a number of different niche skills. “About 40 percent of our work is specialized demolition and the rest comes equally from site works and building removals, so we need a broad spread of machinery.”
Nonetheless, rectification and removal are still an on-going task characterized by New Zealand’s reaction to two major earthquakes in the last decade.
According to Wellington City’s Department of Resilience the area sits on 33 known fault lines.
The 7.8 magnitude 2016 Kaikoura earthquake which started on New Zealand’s South Island and quickly spread to Wellington in the north, has resulted in $1.8 Billion of insurance claims, many of which still require a resolution.
It’s the demolitions that really ignite Shane and his team.
“If you want to know what happens if you get it wrong – just watch YouTube,” he said.