Having been in business for three-plus decades, Metro Equipment Corporation is well-acquainted with the ups and downs of the construction industry – most recently during the Great Recession when the company’s business took a dramatic decline. Hiring slowed. Equipment purchases were delayed. Business has since picked up as construction, particularly commercial development, is making the Boston area one of the most sought out places to live in the northeast.
As the Boston-area economy improved so too has the payroll at Metro Equipment, which now stands at 40 employees. Rich and his brother, Owen, and sister, Ann, started the construction firm in 1985. Today, the Sullivan trio oversees the general construction company that specializes in a variety of site work, foundations, excavation and underground utilities.
“All of our work is in the Greater Boston area,” Rich says. “Ann is responsible for all contractual and administrative functions, while Owen does the project management and operates equipment in the field. He visits all the jobs. I do the estimating, work on new business and talk with our clients.”
New equipment for new opportunities
In 2016, the company updated its construction equipment with the addition of its first two Doosan® crawler excavators – a DX140LCR-3 and a DX255LC-5 – from Equipment East. The two Doosan excavators were put to work right away as Metro Equipment had a busy year with an influx of demolition, excavation, site preparation and even playground installations.
“We had to scramble when the work came back in 2016,” Rich says. “When you work for contractors, you do not set your own schedule.”
At one South Boston project located at 30 B Street, three one-story structures were demolished to make way for a new five-story building that will include 32 condominiums and 33 on-site and off-street parking spaces. Metro Equipment completed much of the project’s site work, including supporting the piling contractor as the shoring was installed for the underground parking garage. This required careful coordination with the general contractor and environmental engineering consultants as well as safety procedures to ensure that contaminated soils were trucked to an appropriately licensed receiving facility.
Metro Equipment employees operated the DX140LCR-3 excavator with a hydraulic breaker and a trenching bucket to handle demolition tasks, including demolishing a 9-foot-wide concrete bridge abutment, and to dig the footings and slab on grade. The reduced-tail-swing Doosan excavator is ideal for jobsite conditions in urban areas like Boston where there’s often limited room to work, according to Rich. The company also installed new water, sewer, fire and drainage services.
At another residential development, Metro Equipment operated its DX225LC-5 and a breaker to remove the asphalt surface and pre-existing underground reinforced concrete foundations. This was part of phase two of a multi-year project that began in 2013 and will eventually be home to 82 contemporary condominiums and a ground-floor parking garage. After the demolition portion, the DX225LC-5 dug down 15 feet for the new foundation. To dig deep, the company installed shoring/ wood sheeting so the foundation could be poured. Metro also installed the water, sewer and fire services to the street.
Metro Equipment has a long history of working for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission doing both scheduled and emergency underground work. In recent years the focus has been on encouraging homeowners to replace private lead-pipe water service at their property. Most of the lead pipes are at least 60 years old. Metro Equipment crews help homeowners remove the old pipe and install new copper pipe from the street to the house.
“We work for the commission every day,” Rich says. “We average one to two houses per day, and they’re all over the Boston area. What happened in Flint, Michigan, has put a big push on this type of work. They have to be replaced because they are lead and eventually they are going to break. Our job is to install the new pipe from the street to the house or commercial building. We dig a trench and install the new copper pipe. Most services range from 20 feet to 50 feet.”
As the company’s volume of work increased in 2016, Rich says it was a welcomed challenge.
“For us, that’s not unusual. Working for contractors on tightly scheduled projects, you learn to be ready and to be flexible.
We’ve got the right people and the right equipment to do what’s necessary to handle the work and get the job done. Bidding is real tight when work is scarce. You have to know what you are doing and have productive equipment, such as our Doosan excavators, to secure and handle high-profile jobs.”
The company’s diverse work requires versatile and dependable equipment capable of demolition one day and trenching the next. “We’ve used many different brands of equipment during the 30 years we have been in business,” Rich says. “During that time, we’ve come to believe that there are a lot of good machines on the market. When we looked at Doosan, we found another top-of-the-line manufacturer.”
As a first-time buyer, Rich thoroughly researched the Doosan brand and liked what he discovered. “The company is one of the biggest equipment manufacturers in the world,” he says. “The fact that Doosan is very substantial is important to us. Plus, our mechanic and operators gave a thumbs-up when they tested the excavators.”
After success with its first two Doosan excavators, the company purchased a third model – a DX300LC-5 – in 2017 to take on larger excavating projects.
Moving from jobsite to jobsite, each with various digging requirements, makes versatility key to Metro Equipment’s success. Each Doosan excavator is equipped with a quick coupler, making it easier for the excavator operator to efficiently change attachments.
The company’s Doosan excavators are regularly accompanied by three different size buckets and a hydraulic breaker to maximize their potential.
“In addition to being a very good value, I liked all the features that came standard, such as the air suspension seat and rearview camera,” Rich says. “We’ve used the Doosan excavators at a variety of jobsites, both big and small. They are very productive.”
Diversifying its fleet with right-size excavators to fit the jobs at hand has helped Metro Equipment take advantage of growing opportunities and prepare for whatever the future brings.