With its fleet of Bobcat loaders and excavators on hand, NYC-based JFM Concrete crews repaired homes destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in half the typical time. See their story.
Howling winds shook buildings and ripped apart houses while a forceful downpour flooded homes, streets and subway lines. Leaving an estimated $70 billion of damage in its wake, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New York and surrounding states in the fall of 2012.
Eight years later, John Cunha, president and CEO of JFM Concrete, is still helping to pick up the pieces left behind by the devastating storm.
Founded in 1984, JFM Concrete does it all: concrete placement; residential, commercial and industrial construction; reinforced sidewalks; demolition; excavation and even snow removal. But it was the demolition and construction side of his business that proved essential after Superstorm Sandy hit the area.
Preparing for Hurricane Sandy Recovery
John got his start in concrete at an early age helping his dad with the family business. After a while, John decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and take on the business full-time.
“It’s a Portuguese thing – everybody does concrete,” John says. “I started going with my father when I was 5 or 6 years old.”
Not only did John join his father in the concrete business, but he also helped to broaden the services that JFM offered. As the company expanded into other aspects of the construction industry, it quickly became apparent that in order to continue growing and keep up with demand they would need to invest in equipment. In 1995, John brought in the company’s first skid-steer loader, a Bobcat® S185.
“We worked smarter,” he says. “We were able to get stuff done in about half the time.”
John eventually traded in his first Bobcat loader for a slightly larger, more powerful model. Since then, the company has grown its fleet to 20 machines – a mix of compact excavators, compact track loaders, skid-steer loaders, mini track loaders and a ToolcatTM utility work machine.
“It was always Bobcat,” he says. “You can feel the difference in the way that they operate.”
Depending on Bobcat Equipment to Reach Tight Spaces
Demolishing hurricane-ravaged foundations and rebuilding them from the ground up is no easy feat, and it’s not something John takes lightly.
“When Superstorm Sandy came, there was about four feet of water on the streets; it destroyed so many homes,” John says. “We meet every homeowner. Once we finish here and they can get their lives back together, they’re always super happy.”
JFM Concrete does everything but lift the house when working on these hurricane-wrecked homes. John first calculates the new foundation height by adding two feet to the base flood height – which in some cases can total nine feet. Once the house has been lifted, the company typically starts by demo-ing the old foundation. They then pour new footings and new walls before backfilling for the new slab. Last but not least, they pour the new slab.
“Since Sandy hit, everybody’s been busy,” John says. “Concrete is the first or second thing that needs to be done when working on these homes. There’s a huge demand.”
With some houses covering more than 2,000 square feet, JFM Concrete often has to bring in an extensive amount of dirt to get the job done. A mid-size compact track loader, such as the T650, hauls soil from a pile outside to an area inside the foundation’s new walls. An MT85 mini track loader then navigates the small interior spaces of the foundation to redistribute and grade the dirt.
“Jobs like these usually take about a week and a half to two weeks from start to finish,” John says. “It’s something that we construct from scratch. It basically feels like we’re putting people’s lives back together.”
The right equipment is essential for John and his team to tackle these large projects. One job alone required eight machines to remove sand from between houses in Long Beach. Thanks to the compact and agile Bobcat machines, John and his crew were able to work diligently to complete the cleanup process
“Having the right equipment for the right job makes all the difference,” he says “The work gets done quicker, and people are able to get back into their homes faster.”
Growing the Concrete Construction Business With Bobcat Equipment
Since introducing Bobcat equipment to the business in 1995, John has been able to continue successfully growing the company that his dad started 36 years ago.
“It used to take us a day to work on 20 to 30 piers, and now we can get the same amount done in a matter of two hours,” John says. “The Bobcat machines haven’t replaced any of my crew needs, but they’ve enhanced the crew I already have. As a company, we can accomplish so much more.”
Over the years, John has added several services to the business, including demolition, snow removal and maintenance.
“You can use one machine for everything,” he says.
While John is content with the services JFM Concrete currently offers clients, he is excited about the future growth of the business.
“The size of our operation continues to grow,” John says. “We’ll probably end up with two or three more Bobcat machines as we continue to expand. It’s kind of a thing. You don’t know when to stop growing. As long as there’s work out there, we’ve always gone after it. We’re still hungry.”
The Bobcat Dealer Difference
Not only has Bobcat equipment helped John grow the family business, but his relationship with his dealer, Bobcat of Long Island, has helped him continue that success. “I’ve been with Bobcat since day one,” John says. “I have so many machines, and if one’s down, my dealer will work hard to get me a new one quickly. It all comes down to having the right equipment for the right jobs. We’ve been growing ever since we got our first Bobcat machine.”
Looking for an equipment dealership that will partner with your business? Find your local Bobcat dealer.