Atlantic Coast Dismantling (ACD) is a full-service demolition contractor specializing in heavy civil and plant demolition projects. With a rich and broad history, the company specializes in demolition across multiple contexts and settings. From building demolition to mechanical demolition that would typically involve the removal of boilers, chillers, and cooling towers; this is a company that can do it all.
The company was founded in 2008 by three partners including one of the current owners, Ben Ketschke.In 2013, demolition industry veteran Steven Testa who owned a successful demolition company for 30 years joined forces with Ben. Steve brought new business with his team of experts, clients and a wealth of knowledge in the field of specialized demolition. According to the VP at ACD, Colin O’Hearn, the steady progress being done at the company has translated into a period of significant growth. “We have seen some substantial growth over the last six years. Our company has grown from being a $9 million company in 2016 to almost a $50 million company this year.” Clearly, those at ACD are doing something right.
Atlantic Coast Dismantling joined the National Demolition Association (NDA) around three years ago. O’Hearn has worked for many demolition contractors in the past, all of which have been members of the NDA. By being available and accessible to its members, he feels that, as an organization, it is a “great resource for contractors.” In addition to this, O’Hearn explains how the NDA help to spearhead different projects around the country, helping out with certain aspects of demolition that other associations may not engage with. “When it comes to disposal or trucking or just means and methods, they’re very knowledgeable people. It is really good to get together and discuss demolition with multiple contractors from around the country and around the world.”
The NDA hold a big demolition event every year – an event which O’Hearn describes as a superb opportunity to get first hand experience with equipment and products. This insight is, according to O’Hearn, invaluable. “Multiple vendors will be in attendance and you have the opportunity to try out their products. That way, you get a feel for how it’s going to work on the jobsite.” An added bonus is that the event allows multiple members from across the country to meet and develop connections.
Since O’Hearn joined the company in 2016, ACD has experienced continued success by having “one or two large projects” a year. Last year, for example, the company was tasked with demolishing the existing North Washington Street bridge – a swing bridge that had been built in 1898 over the Charles River in Downtown Boston. Given the enormity of the project, it is no surprise that the job required multiple layers and tasks as evidenced by the need to both demolish the superstructure and also hammer all the substructure out.
“Instead of having to go out and rent a crane, now we have our own crane whenever we need it to bring to jobs.”
With this ongoing success, the company has needed to expand its fleet of equipment and last year was no different in this regard. ACD acquired a Montauk MLC 300 (300 tonne) crawler crane which has already been put to good use. Initially at Wittpenn Bridge in New Jersey and next with an upcoming project at the Harry Nice bridge in Maryland. For O’Hearn, this addition has already paid huge dividends. “It is a big help. Instead of having to go out and rent a crane, now we have our own crane whenever we need it to bring to jobs.” Alongside the crane, ACD also purchased two brand new CAT 395 excavators; 95 metric tonne excavators weighing about 200,000 pounds, and multiple smaller excavators including CAT 374’s, CAT 349’s, CAT 335’s, and CAT 325’s. O’Hearn explains that this investment in the company fleet is another way of offering the best possible service to its clients. “In 2016, we had about $4 million worth of equipment and now we have about $25 million worth of equipment. As we grow, we are continuously adding to our fleet. This makes us a stronger competitor in the market. We can pretty much tackle any job that comes across the board.”
Atlantic Coast Dismantling recently subcontracted with Siefert Associates, LLC to perform the engineering for the demolition of the existing Wittpenn Bridge connecting Jersey City to Kearny, NJ. Siefert performed analysis of the east approach, truss spans, tower spans, lift span, and west approach. Siefert also devised plans for the float out of the existing lift span and removal of the supporting towers. This particular job has proved to be one of the company’s standout projects in recent times. While working on the project, ACD encountered a lot of site constraints which required outside-the-box thinking. The bridge was built adjacent to a Conrail lift bridge which was not ideal and, to make matters more difficult, the new route 7 bridge that was already in place was also nearby. ACD started on the East approach, hammering down 15 spans using large excavators, shears, and hammers before getting into the trust and lift spans. O’Hearn describes how the company had to use innovative thinking to solve these issues. “Traditionally, we wire saw the counterweights and then pick them with the crane. For this project, we came up with a new idea. We had a vendor come in and we used strand jacks to lower the counterweights from their resting position up top of the tower down to the elevation of the roadway. That way, we could use excavators with hammers to hammer the concrete in place. As a result, we didn’t have to pick it with the crane in the end.” Following the removal of the counterweights, the company manoeuvred those strand jacks, cut portions of the bridge off and lowered the lift span to a barge waiting in the river below.
While ACD has experienced huge success and cause for celebration in recent times, it has not been without its challenges. It has, like everyone else in the industry, been impacted by supply chain issues. O’Hearn explains that “it’s been hard to procure new equipment due to ship shortages and other port shortages from around the world.” While this is to be expected as the industry recovers from the pandemic, the supply chain issues have also been impacting the company in a more indirect manner. As GCs around the country wait for materials to arrive, ACD feels the knock-on effect of this. “While it doesn’t necessarily delay us when we are doing our job, it certainly can delay us starting jobs in certain aspects because of the fact that the general contractor needs these materials to build something new.”
In terms of the outlook for 2022, O’Hearn is positive about the future for Atlantic Coast Dismantling. By continuing to expand the fleet, develop and nurture talent and skills, the company can build on its massive recent success. “I would say that we’re continuing to grow. We projected $50 million sales this year, and on top of that, we are adding to our team.” With such positive growth in place since 2008, you wouldn’t put it past them to, as always, go above and beyond that goal too.