One of the most unfortunate by-products of the sub-prime meltdown has been homeowners walking away from their mortgages. They pack their cars in the middle of the night and just leave their homes vacant. Some cities and states have been harder hit by this phenomenon, and Detroit is arguably near the top of this unfortunate list. The city received a one-two punch in the form of the economic slowdown and the implosion of the U.S. auto industry. This once-proud city which had a population of 2 million residents now has little under half of that.
Ambitious Plan to Transform the City
Detroit’s new mayor, Dave Big, has an ambitious plan to combat this urban blight by tearing down uninhabited neighborhoods and transforming run-down eyesores back into parks and vegetable farms. In the near future, suburban commuters will potentially drive through a country side of sorts to reach the downtown area.
This plan means a lot of potential business for the Adamo Group, a world-class site remediation and redevelopment advisor. Adamo began as a small Detroit-based demolition company that was founded by John T. Adamo Sr. in 1964. Today the firm is run by his two sons, John Jr. and Richard, who proudly manage and expand the certified Detroit-Based Business, Headquartered in Detroit Business Enterprise. Richard, who is the current president of the firm, recounts some of the residential work the firm has been seeing lately:
“Our niche is in heavy industrial and commercial demolition, but right now we have a back-log of about 150 residential homes the city wants torn down. A lot of towns, in addition to Detroit, are using the stimulus dollars to tear down a ton of houses and small-scale commercial buildings. We’re currently working with officials from Michigan, Detroit, Wayne County, Highland Park and Pontiac [Mich.] to rid the towns of the blighted areas. There’s been a big push to see who can spend the money first, which translates into a lot of big business for us.”
Even though the recent residential projects are not the company’s original niche, the Adamo Group has been trusted with an increasing number of these jobs because of the company’s long history of successfully combining engineers and management professionals to navigate the environmental issues and regulatory mandates that impact demolition. The firm has over 40 years experience in real estate reuse and site preparation within the industrial, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, commercial redevelopment and government/municipal sectors.
Taking Down a Classic
Richard details a more typical project that has made Adamo one of the largest demolition contractors in the Midwest. “We just completed the Lafayette demolition project here in Detroit. It was basically the demolition of a 250,000-square foot 15-story building in the heart of downtown Detroit. It used to be an office building built in 1923 in the neoclassical style. It was across from the historic Book Cadillac Hotel, which was just recently renovated, yet there was this huge eyesore across the street. The Detroit economic development group contracted us to demolish it. What made this project tricky though is that it was located on a triangular patch of land that also housed two Detroit icons: American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island. They’re two restaurants serving Coney Island fare, but if you come to Detroit, you eat there at least once. The Lafayette building towered over the restaurants by an additional 12 stories. We did it, though, with no complications or incidents. We used some selective demolition work to ensure zero damage to the restaurants.”
When the Adamo brothers took over their father’s firm, the company already had a well-established reputation for safety and job completion in the Detroit region, but, seeing Adamo’s potential, the brothers successfully transformed Adamo into a national brand. “Over the years, we’ve established some really good relationships with our clients. It’s very rare in the demolition industry to get repeat business. You’re either dealing with a client who may only have one building he wants taken down, or you make even one small mistake on a project and you’re going to get added to a no-bid list. We have always made sure that our guys on the job site know what they are doing and strictly follow all of our safety procedures. That has allowed us to get in with the big industrial corporations who have plenty of mothballed factories that need to come down,” says Richard.
The Adamo Group’s safety procedures include daily equipment inspection, periodic maintenance of all machinery, stress operator awareness, plus predetermination of all hazards and optimum transport routes. The company ensures the project parameters maintain compliance with applicable regulatory standards and guidelines, including OSHA, and federal guidelines such as NESHAP, RCRA, and CERCLA. The Adamo Group’s ability to work within strict time and space constraints, maintaining detailed records and successfully implementing critical strategies, has allowed the company to establish itself in projects including complete or partial structural demolition, manufacturing facility renovation, interior demolition and renovation, transit projects, multi-story demolition, excavation and grading, hazardous waste removal, utility installation and asbestos abatement. Seen as an example thanks to its time/cost saving and environmental safeguard techniques, the Adamo Group’s activities have helped promote best practices within the industry.
Diversity is Key to Future
Looking towards the future, Richard sees conscientious expansion as the key to Adamo’s long-term strategy. “Diversification is a definite path for us, but we’re going to make sure that we’re going to add services in a field that we’re familiar with. You have to have a good business plan and you need to be cognizant of the risks. We’ve seen a lot of guys come into this area with wonderful ideas on how to build a better mousetrap, but they all went belly up because they didn’t understand the regulations or have thorough mismanagement. We’re not going to make those mistakes.”
With this approach as a guide, the Adamo Group has gathered experience beyond demolition in asset recovery, site work, civil, site utilities and paving. With a strong plan for the future, and an established track record of safely executed projects, the Adamo Group is assured a place in Detroit’s greener future.
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