Tilcon New York, Inc.

CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS SUPPLIER PROVES A CUSTOMER-FIRST ATTITUDE PAYS DIVIDENDS

Aug 14, 2009

Sold on Komatsu equipment

Nearly every construction project that happens in New York City and the surrounding area uses some kind of construction materials from Tilcon New York. Vice President Alan Maio notes the reason for the company’s tremendous market share.

“We take care of customers and exceed their expectations,” said Maio. “Our customers depend on us, and if we fall short, jobs get shut down. That’s an expensive proposition in New York City. Obviously, we’re happy to be privileged enough to be the top supplier, and we don’t take that lightly.”

Tilcon New York — part of the Oldcastle Materials Group since 1996 — has grown into the top supplier’s role through a strong mix of high-quality construction materials from strategic locations around the five boroughs of New York City, the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island and central and northern New Jersey, which make up the company’s territory.

Its New York operations include quarries in Clinton Point, Haverstraw, Tomkins Cove and West Nyack; asphalt plants in Maybrook, Newburgh, West Nyack, Haverstraw and Poughkeepsie; materials transportation via water from its Inwood, Flushing, Port Jefferson and Port Washington terminals; and a Bronx recycling facility that turns old construction materials into new products.

It has a similar facility in Kearny, N.J. New Jersey operations include asphalt plants at Bernardsville, Hamburg, Keasbey, Little Ferry, and Totowa. Quarries are located in Byram, Millington, Mount Hope, Oxford, Pompton Lakes, Prospect Park and Riverdale. Materials at all New York and New Jersey locations are tested daily for quality assurance.

Tilcon also offers construction services, including asphalt milling and paving, excavation, grading and site construction. Tilcon keeps engineers on staff to help customers with technical aspects of projects, often saving them time and money in the process. Construction crews mainly focus on state, county and municipal work, and have been involved in some of the region’s highest-profile projects, such as the George Washington Bridge, the New York State Thruway and Newark International Airport.

Materials have also been a part of other large projects, such as the new Freedom Tower where the Twin Towers stood, the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, which next year becomes the new home of the Mets.

“About 30 percent of our materials go directly into projects our construction services division does, and the other 70 percent are going to outside customers,” said Maio. “So it’s in our best interest to take care of them, and because we stress customer service, we’ve developed a very long list of clients that we’ve worked with on a repeat basis for more than a decade.”

Protecting the biggest asset

Tilcon New York has worked with some of its customers since the company’s founding in 1981, when it began acquiring its mining operations. Some have been actively mined as far back as 1880, and each has its own unique types of natural materials that Tilcon makes into products that meet individual state and customer specifications. From its quarries, Tilcon produces 8 million to 10 million tons of finished product each year.

Additionally, asphalt plants produce and deliver 500,000 to 700,000 tons each year, making Tilcon a large factor in Oldcastle’s claim to being the top asphalt producer in the United States. Tilcon is one of the nation’s leading producers of Superpave mixes, which are available at five of the company’s New Jersey locations.

In addition to selling, Tilcon donates materials and labor to various local and state entities each year as a way to give back to the communities it serves. Tilcon was recently recognized with a New Jersey Business & Industry Association Award of Excellence in Public Service for its work in the Borough of Bloomingdale. The company contributed $750,000 in materials and labor, including site clearing, grading and paving the parking lot for a new firehouse. It also donated time and materials to build a new home for a local family with disabled children.

Tilcon New York has also been recognized for its community relations with a Pinnacle Award from the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), the organization’s highest honor in that category. Tilcon has received a Diamond Achievement Commendation from the National Asphalt Pavement Association, as well as numerous paving and safety awards.

“We’re most proud of our safety record, because that’s of utmost importance to us,” said Maio. “It’s stressed as our No. 1 priority, from the guys running equipment to our president. The first agenda item of every meeting we have deals with safety and how we can continually improve in that area. Tilcon employs about 450 people, and our expectation is that at the end of the day there are no incidents that would affect what we view as our biggest asset — the people who work for Tilcon.”

Sold on Komatsu equipment

Another major asset to Tilcon New York’s success is productive equipment, including six recently purchased Komatsu 70-ton HD605-7 haul trucks and a 113,600-pound D275AX-5 dozer. Those machines work in tandem with two WA900 wheel loaders at company quarry operations.

“Our first Komatsu purchase was a WA900 about three years ago, and the reason we chose that machine was because it outperformed the competitive brand we were using in a side-by-side test,” said Maio. “It’s heavier-duty with more breakout force and operator comfort. The operators who tested it really liked it as well, and that cemented the deal. If the operators like it and it performs better than the competition, it’s likely we’ll get better production. That’s been the case and why we bought another WA900 this year, along with the other Komatsu pieces.”

While the performance of the WA900s was impressive, Maio said his staff wasn’t completely sold on buying other Komatsu equipment until they visited a Komatsu manufacturing plant and Komatsu’s training site in Cartersville, Ga. “What really stood out to us was the emphasis Komatsu put on engineering the product, as opposed to some manufacturers that focus on marketing and selling,” Maio pointed out. “Tilcon is committed to engineering as well, making products of the highest quality, so our values really line up with Komatsu. They work very hard to make products that are going to help increase production and keep downtime to a minimum. We were definitely impressed.”

Maio is impressed with the technology Komatsu equipment offers as well. “KOMTRAX on the machines and VHMS (Vehicle Health Monitoring System) on the trucks are terrific tools for tracking their usage and managing service intervals. They’re a strong benefit to the equipment.”

Getting quality service from Edward Ehrbar Inc. is another benefit, according to Tilcon Equipment Manager-Mobile Equipment Charlie Newman. “Ehrbar and our Sales Representative Bill Tucker have been terrific throughout the purchasing process and since we’ve owned the machinery. They make sure all the equipment fits well with our operations and continues to be productive. They’ve got 24-hour service, so anytime we need something, we can call and get an answer. We can also get parts quickly through Ehrbar, usually right away or by early the next day.”

Remaining on top

Continuing to provide quality service will remain a hallmark of Tilcon New York’s operations. Like other companies, Tilcon is adjusting to market conditions but Maio insists there will be no adjustment in the company’s customer-first philosophy.

“This business is all about customer service, and we have never lost sight of that,” said Maio. “The market is always going to fluctuate, and we have to be prepared for that. What we’ve come to learn though is that companies like ours, that take care of the customer with quality products and on-time deliveries, are the ones that weather the cycles. It’s carried us this far, and we certainly expect to be one of the top construction materials producers in our area for a long time to com