Case Studies

Alpine Demolition Services

The know-how to knock it down in Chicago

Bridges and other major infrastructure, water towers, commercial buildings, railroads, industrial plants, hospitals, parking garages or a hybrid of multiple structures -no matter the facility, if it needs to go down in the Chicagoland area, chances are Alpine Demolition Services (Alpine) has played a major role. Based in St. Charles, Illinois, Alpine Demolition is a family and woman-owned, full-service demolition contractor.

“We do a wide variety of demo work and we thrive doing the difficult and unique jobs that our competitors don’t want to or know how to handle,” says Karsten Pawlik, vice president of operations for Alpine. “Complete building demo, water tanks, bridges or special interior demo; our target market is simple: whatever the customer needs.”

“A lot of contractors in the area do demolition, but they just do bridges or buildings or interior,” compares Pawlik. “We’re one of the few that do them all and do them well.”

Family and woman ownership first

The company has been running on this do-anything, do-all-for-the-customer attitude for 12 years, since Pawlik continued a family tradition his father started decades ago. “My father was in the demolition business since I was born,” he tells. “On the home page of our website you can see old photos of his work and pictures of him holding me on a demo site when I was a baby.”

Having grown up in the industry, Pawlik and his wife, Kelli Pawlik went on to form Alpine in 2002. “My wife is the actual founder of the company and we’re 100 percent a woman-owned business,” tells Pawlik. “She’s the brains behind the finances while I’m a civil engineer and have my MBA from the University of Northern Illinois.”

Pawlik says demolition work is a business, just like any other so his business background has come in handy. “I’ve utilized my MBA skills as the company grows and learned that clear communication and good people are two real keys to success,” he measures.

Alpine Demolition Services

A high-quality union workforce

Operating on extremely fast-paced schedules, high safety requirements, high-profile jobs with more often than not, odd twists, requires a skilled team, well versed in multiple kinds of demolition. Alpine now deploys 60 union contractors, cross-trained in a variety of demolition and take-down types and projects. “We do a lot of big projects that include a great deal of planning and the greatest attention to safety so you really need good people working for you to pull these jobs off,” explains Pawlik.

“Union employees are going to go where there’s the most work and they know we’ll stay moving,” assures Pawlik, who says the company even stays steady through a cold Chicago winter. “By cross-training our employees to handle a variety of project this maximizes the use of our resources and attracts top talent in the demolition industry.”

Core markets

Building demolition is clearly a core market, but Alpine is also rapidly growing in the infrastructure sector. “Bridges, waste water treatment plants and water towers are some of the infrastructure projects we perform,” details Pawlik. “These projects require a large amount of planning and some even require a plan stamped by a structural engineer. Waste water treatment plants require special care so not to disturb existing operations and utilities are a big concern when performing these projects.”

Alpine also has a hand in area railroad demolition. “Railroads are still an important part of our country’s economy,” measures Pawlik. “There are many types of demolition needs keeping railroad operations up to date -bridges, control towers and wall grinding are all examples of the items that need demo services.”

The company has performed many railroad projects, including the removal of a railroad control tower on Clinton Street in the heart of downtown Chicago. The project entailed removing an elevated two-story tower adjacent to commuter train tracks leading to one of the city’s main train stations. A comprehensive plan was engineered and followed to the satisfaction of public and private railroad authorities. The work had to be coordinated with a flag man and could not interrupt ongoing rail operations.

Alpine is also adept in interior demolition, be it a residence, school or other institutional renovations. “Most of these projects are highly sensitive and require personnel that are careful not to jeopardize existing operations,” says Pawlik. “Alpine can also handle special projects such as stadiums and power plants that require techniques such as robotic demolition.”

One such specialty project is Alpine’s work at Wrigley Field, a baseball stadium that’s the home of the Chicago Cubs and a Windy City landmark since 1914. “The owners are rehabbing the whole stadium piece by piece,” details Pawlik. “We’ve been responsible for taking interior walls, bathrooms and ramps.”

Bringing down hybrid infrastructure

For the most out-of-the-box, atypical projects, customers call on Alpine for a diverse set of demolition skill. “We were involved in the take down of the Illinois Tollway Des Plaines Oasis (Des Plaines), an over-the-road pavilion that was closed and removed in 2014 to allow for a fourth lane to be built in either direction on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway,” details Pawlik. “This was an especially unique project because Des Plaines is neither a typical bridge nor building – it’s an odd hybrid of both.”

Roof and window removal on the over-the-road pavilion structure began in July 2014. Removal of building’s super structure, roof beams and columns followed, then the bridge deck and floor planks. Finally, the 22 concrete beams supporting the over-the-road structure – each measuring 67-feet-long and weighing approximately 65,000 pounds – were removed in late August 2014. “This new capacity will ease congestion and increase safety for drivers on the new, state-of-the-art roadway, which is projected to accommodate up to 30,000 more vehicles per day,” cites the Illinois Tollway.

Clear communication and safety expectations

In another major infrastructure take-down project, Alpine has assisted in the Englewood Flyover, removing the bridge over train tracks. “This project required a great deal of coordination with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) because of the nature of the location,” explains Pawlik. Also with the CTA, Alpine has removed seven train stations while keeping other stations fully operational.

From Wrigley Field to the hustle and bustle of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, communication and safety are two driving factors for Alpine and its crews. “I’ve learned that managing people and clearly communicating expectations both in project demands and safety precautions is key in our success,” ensures Pawlik. “Our successful and safe delivery fosters repeat business from clients that love the way we delivered previous projects.”

After more than 12 years in the demolition industry, and many more tracing back to Pawlik’s father, Alpine Demolition Services has become a distinguished name in greater Chicago for the know how to knock down the most complex, challenging structures.

Published on: July 6, 2015

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