“We love our Komatsu machines”
Many companies promote the capability to handle a project in-house with all of the services they offer. However, few are able to do it from conception to completion the same way that Mark Mather and his South Carolina company, Riverwalk, can.
Mather got his start in heavy industrial construction growing up in Cincinnati. There, he spent 30 years working in civil construction, heavy environmental landfill and dredge operations. He used this diverse background to open Riverwalk in 2005 and has helped the company find footing on a large and unique undertaking in Rock Hill, S.C.
Mather’s Assured Group, of which he is also the Owner, purchased an obsolete textile-manufacturing facility in Rock Hill and embarked on building a master-planned community on the 1,000-acre site.
“We worked with both city and state administrators to come up with a design for the Riverwalk community,” recalled Mather. “In our planned, 3 million square-foot industrial park we have developed roughly 2.1 million square feet and intend to break ground on another 500,000 square-foot building this spring.
“Riverwalk, at completion, will have a residential community of 1,000 single-family houses, 700 multi-family units and nearly one-million square feet of office and retail space, in addition to several recreational trails and complexes within the development,” he added.
To take the site from textile factory to a booming suburban community Riverwalk needed a construction company that it could depend on, so Mather started Celriver Services, and got to work. Twelve years later, it is still on the job.
“We’ve done everything: completing demolition and environmental waste rehabilitation of the original site; planning the community; grading; excavating; as well as constructing the houses and buildings,” said Mather. “All told, it’s been close to a $600-million project.”
Houses, restaurants and bikes
Although Celriver Services has technically been employed on just one project in its history, to consider the firm a one-trick pony would be incorrect. One of the challenges in constructing a community from scratch is that handling every assignment requires careful attention.
“We handle the infrastructure; build roads; and install the storm, sanitary, and domestic water lines, which is common for a construction company, but we tackled some other cool features as well,” explained Project Manager Jim Kilpatrick. “This development has a fitness theme, particularly geared toward biking. We’ve built a velodrome track, a world-class BMX course, a criterium track and a three-mile walking trail, plus installed miles of bike lanes on the streets.
“The development borders the Catawba River, and we’ve created a kayak launch and other areas so that people can take advantage of the water,” he added. “We’ve done a little bit of everything here.”
Those diverse ventures are just a small example of the many jobs Celriver Services has completed at the Riverwalk community. Since 2013, Celriver has also partnered in the construction of 160 homes, five apartment complexes and a mixed-use building. Future plans include sites for an assisted-living facility, grocery store, a large office complex, a retail center and several restaurants.
“This was a highly ambitious project,” admitted Mather. “We had some big plans, and the first few years were slowed by the recession, but now it’s progressing at a better rate. We still have a ways to go though.”
The intelligent Machine Control and Linder advantage
Mather realized he needed a serious fleet of equipment to see his vision through, so he did his due diligence and tested machines from numerous manufacturers. When the dust settled, the clear winner was Komatsu’s intelligent Machine Control equipment from Linder Industrial Machinery and Sales Rep Bill Cross.
“The most important thing to us when looking at machines was quality control, and with the ability to hit and track grade using the intelligent Machine Control pieces, Komatsu was the clear choice,” explained Mather. “Today, seven of the 11 Komatsus in our fleet are iMC machines.”
Mather wanted to ensure that Celriver was getting the most out of its intelligent Machine Control pieces, so Linder and Technology Solutions Expert Tracy Skipper worked with the company to install a centralized base station at the Riverwalk development.
“Tracy and Linder went above and beyond to set us up and offered some simple solutions to problems that we thought would be major issues,” detailed Kilpatrick. “They installed a base station at our headquarters and ensured that it reached the entire site for full coverage. If we need anything, Tracy is a call away. We had an issue once while he was out of town, and he solved it over the phone. That level of dedication means a lot to us.”
Utilizing a “smart” fleet has provided a major advantage to Celriver.
“Our goal is to move 6,000 to 8,000 yards of dirt per day with two excavators,” noted Kilpatrick. “We typically hit that goal, and we don’t use any stakes. That’s a major advantage, and it’s all because of intelligent Machine Control.”
“Embracing the latest innovations has resulted in serious time and material savings,” added Mather. “I am a huge fan of technology, and intelligent Machine Control from Komatsu is amazing.”
Komatsu handles it
In addition to the technological advantages, Celriver selected Komatsu because of the performance of its machines in the field. The firm’s most popular units are its three Komatsu PC210LCi-10 excavators with automated control.
“The PC210LCi is a workhorse,” explained Kilpatrick. “We handle nearly all of our pipe jobs with it. They are quick and can handle a lot of work. We had a competitive machine on rent, and it couldn’t lift our trench boxes, but the PC210LCi handled it with no problem. It’s a tough machine, and the GPS keeps it on grade automatically. We love it.”
Another popular excavator for the company is its Komatsu PC88MR excavator. Kilpatrick says it is Celriver’s most used machine as it handles water and sanitary services, in addition to sidewalk grading. Its compact size and Roadliner tracks make it a versatile machine at the development.
Celriver also deploys a pair of Komatsu intelligent Machine Control D61PXi-23 dozers for rough grading.
“Having the machine control on for rough grading certainly speeds up the process,” shared Kilpatrick. “We don’t need stakes, and the tracks are constantly measuring elevation. We use the GPS from first to last pass. The dozers do a great job of getting the site ready for our excavators to come in and install utilities.”
More work remains
Twelve years into the project, Mather estimates that the Riverwalk development has six years remaining until completion. He hopes to have the majority of the civil work wrapped up in two years and then focus on finishing nearly 600 lots for homes, as well as major connector roadways to neighboring highways by 2023.
As for the future of Celriver Services, Mather says that it will remain busy until the end of this project, but wants it to have a lasting impact long after completion of the development.
“We’ve fully embraced technology, and I think more people in our industry should as well,” said Mather. “I hope the result is educated people in the seats of these machines and more becoming interested in this field, that’s our goal. This is the way to get more people to fall in love with civil work and reshape our workforce.”