Case Studies

Konell Construction & Demolition Corp.

Using the Past to Build the Future

When people hear “demolition,” they don’t always think “green.” There’s the automatic assumption of mess, destruction and waste. At Konell Construction & Demolition Corp. (KCDC), however, there’s no such thing as waste. Salvaging, reusing and recycling as many construction materials as possible has been a part of KCDC’s process since the company’s inception in 1982. The Sandy, Ore.-based company continues to operate under its motto, “Using the past to build the future.”

“If there’s a building that needs to be torn down, we wreck it, but we reincorporate stuff into the new site, such as crushed concrete and asphalt,” remarks John Sayles, president of KCDC. This economically eco-conscious construction method has kept a large percentage of waste out of Northwestern landfills, while saving owners from paying exorbitant disposal fees. “We do all our own crushing,” adds Sayles.

Green from the Get-go

KCDC has an entire fleet of concrete crushers, wood grinders and equipment-mounted shears and breakers, which assist the company’s hard-working staff in breaking down materials throughout the states of Oregon and Washington. These compacted components can then be used and re-used on other KCDC projects or exported to a recycling facility at the company’s expense. Sayles remains modest despite these advancements, and remembers the initial determination of Steve Konell, the company’s visionary founder whose original CAT Loader is still in service.

All Konell had to work with in the early ’80s was big ambitions of starting his own construction company. After he’d scraped together enough money, Konell was able to purchase his former boss’ CAT 955 track loader with a four-in-one bucket. Now with some equipment to match his ambition, Konell took his dreams and ran, tore down and built with them.

KCDC focused primarily on-site preparation and commercial demolition during that first year of operation. The work was fairly straightforward, but in these early stages Konell was priming his fledgling company for greener construction and demolition practices. Konell hired his brother Jeff and Sayles after a year of running things on his own. The three of them worked together, each developing the recycling process of demolished materials until they had it down to a science. By then KCDC had moved from small urban jobs onto bigger projects across the Northwest. The company now has approximately 55 talented employees, who at any given moment are working on over 15 projects at once. While the success is a bonus, KCDC isn’t an organization that forgets its roots.

Pioneering Spirit on Innovative Projects

Throughout KCDC’s period of growth, the company maintained the original ideals that Konell implemented at the very beginning. Valuing excellence, environmental responsibility and maintaining a sterling reputation, KCDC continues to actively recycle concrete, timber and other materials from demolished sites, while also performing site prep, underground utilities construction and scheduling/planning/cost-estimating for developments. In addition, the company emphasizes a culture of safety. While KCDC isn’t a family-owned company, “… we’ve been working together for so long it feels like a family,” Sayles opines. And, judging from KCDC’s healthy backlog of jobs for repeat customers, the company’s insistence on adhering to its long-standing ethics is one of its major advantages.

Several of KCDC’s jobs, for companies including Nike and Intel, have garnered prestigious awards for the company. Tektronix Inc. (Tektronix), an Oregon manufacturer of testing and measurement equipment, commissioned KCDC to demolish five major buildings across its 30-acre campus in late 2005. This process included two important additions to the basic demolition of the facilities.

The company’s knowledgeable field crew would have to handle the remediation of a tank farm that had been used to store a variety of chemicals, as well as remove sections of roadways that twisted through the original site. The curvy paths included numerous elevated walkways and a sky bridge.

Existing structures were replaced with an all-weather soccer field, two outdoor basketball courts and two volleyball courts. KCDC’s crew added fine touches to the landscaping as well, with contoured grounds and walkways that connected to facilities in a more straightforward manner. Throughout the entire process, KCDC used its crushers to recycle all the asphalt and concrete as structural filler for the new buildings.

In total, the company crushed and reused more than 30,000 tons of material, and achieved a material recovery rate that exceeded 99 percent in a 13-month period. For this stupendous achievement, KCDC won the 2006 Green Demolition Award from the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC). The company went on to win the same award three years in a row, each one being a tremendous honor on top of a job well done.

Remaining Uncrushable in the Face of Adversity

KCDC would draw upon these past glories during the recent bout with a diminished economy. The year 2009 was an especially hard one for the company, because Steve Konell passed away. While the company staff and the Sandy community mourned, KCDC upholds Konell’s precedent of ethical business practices, hard work and innovative vision with more determination than ever.

“We knew if we just kept plowing forward that we were going to get through it,” recalls Sayles. The in-house staff and field crews poured their passion in the work at hand, which has yielded significant growth for KCDC. Another contributing factor was the invaluable relationships built over the years with general contractors and communities, including the Hoffman Construction Co., R&H Construction Co., Anderson Construction Co., City of Portland, Mill Creek, John Residential Group and Evergreen School District, just to name a few.

Recently, the company finished work on Oregon State Hospital (OSH), a project that took nearly three years to complete. OSH was KCDC’s biggest contract to date, and stretched across a 118-acre site. The hospital underwent massive renovations, and KCDC worked constantly at demolishing and recycling the materials. KCDC’s dedicated staff was proud of the result, and prouder still of the way it completed yet another company landmark achievement.

The year 2012 marks KCDC’s 30th anniversary, but the company isn’t resting on its laurels. A company full of detail-oriented problem solvers that will go above and beyond to get the job done right, Konell Construction & Demolition Inc. prioritizes environmental responsibility in order to maintain a sterling reputation, and looks forward to continuing to build its future from the strong resources of its past.

Published on: November 2, 2012


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