GOMACO World Index --- GOMACO World 31.1 - March 2003
Mike Demmink and Steve Suchowolec of M&S Construction, Inc., and GOMACO have had a long standing relationship. M&S Construction has owned GOMACOs since 1982. Their first machine, a Commander II, was the seventh one manufactured, and slipforming was a learning experience.
In 1994, they updated to the GT-3600. They liked its ability to turn a tight radius while getting into the tighter construction areas.
"I wanted to go with the smallest, lightest machine possible, yet something that mimicked the Commander III," Steve Suchowolec, vice president of M&S Construction, said. "The GT-3600 is absolutely perfect. I love the setup, the side setup on it and I can get into tighter areas with it just because of the way it's put together."
M&S Construction, based out of Rockford, Michigan, slipforms approximately 20 miles (32 km) of curb and gutter during their paving season. The size of their slipform paving projects will vary between 800 and 20,000 feet (244 and 6096 m). They have an inventory of 27 different mold profiles.
"We get into it all," Suchowolec said. "We do a lot of parking lots with island radii of 10 feet (3 m). The machine can do just about everything and all our finishers have to do are some small tie-ins, it really makes it convenient. We have even paved over six miles (10 km) of golf cart path on one project."
They have a system worked out where they travel with three molds at all times.
"We have a setup where we have a small winch system on the back of our truck and we carry three basic molds with us," Suchowolec explained. "If we need a different mold, we have them delivered by truck to the job. We'll pick them up afterwards and the GT-3600 can just keep going."
After 21 years of slipforming experience, M&S has their concrete mix designs down to a science. They know what mix designs are slipformable and they've worked out a system with their local suppliers to guarantee they get the right concrete.
"Throughout the course of the years, we've put together our own mix designs and we tell the cement companies to give us an M&S #1 or M&S #4," Suchowolec said. "They have those designs there and we just tell them what we want, what time we want it and it's there. The biggest question, and the thing we have to watch out for, will be the slump. It's our biggest variable."
M&S Construction likes their slump to average two inches (51 mm).
According to Suchowolec, it's becoming a 50/50 proposition in Michigan of slipforming steel rerod into the curb and gutter. If they have to insert steel, the project has to be pretrimmed with the GT-3600 first. If not, they trim and pour simultaneously.
"That thing is just amazing in what it can trim," Suchowolec said. "Hard gravel, shale, we've trimmed through just some ungodly stuff. It has all the power a machine like that needs."
Another feature M&S Construction enjoys is the sideshifting, vertical-lifting trimmerhead and mold. It saves them time when they have to move around objects.
"It's a great feature. It makes it very, very simple when you're trimming and pouring, or just pouring, to jump objects," Suchowolec explained. "On most jobs, we preset the basins and then we pour right up to them, lift up, go over the basin, and drop back down. Then, we'll vibrate the curb right back up to the basin and then take off again. There is very little handwork that needs to be done. It makes it easier on the guys and it's a lot faster."
Mold changes are a simple and fast process, too, with the quick-attach mold system on the GT-3600.
"It's very easy to change a mold. We know right where the GT-3600 is going to stop with one mold and start with another," Suchowolec said. "We'll have the new mold right there, pointed in the right direction. All the operator has to do is stop, pull off the line, pop the one off, slide the other one in and keep right on going. We've got it down to a science."
M&S Construction likes to upgrade their curb and gutter machine every three years. When it was time to upgrade again, they wanted to stick with the GT-3600, but they liked the features GOMACO's proprietary digital operating system, the G21 controller was providing the new generation Commander III.
Suchowolec felt the award winning G21 was just what he needed for his curb and gutter projects in Michigan.
"This new GT-3600 with the G21 is absolutely remarkable," Suchowolec said. "The quickness is just unbelievable and it's phenomenal how much faster the machine reacts. Even if you're pouring mainline, and somebody was to bump the string or the wand hits a knot in the string, the machine reacts so fast the bump isn't picked up in the curb. It helps with radii, everything.
"The G21 has so many variables that you can plug into it, like teaching your tracks. Once you get it set up exactly the way you want it, the thing just runs ultra smooth."
The GT-3600 with optional G21 digital controller is working out well for M&S Construction. It is, along with other modifications to the machine, everything they wanted in a curb and gutter machine.
"GOMACO is the Cadillac. It's the ultimate curb machine out there," Suchowolec said. "We're working with a good group of people at GOMACO. That's why we've been with them for so long. They just can't do enough for you."
Steve Suchowolec, left, is congratulated by Gary Godbersen, GOMACO's president and CEO, for his milestone of 20 years of GOMACO University attendance.
GOMACO University recognizes students who return for five or more years with letter jackets and chevrons marking their education. In 2002, they had the honor of recognizing their first 20-year student, Steve Suchowolec from M&S Construction in Rockford, Michigan.
What keeps a person coming back, year after year? It's a story best told in his own words...
GW: This last year marked your 20th anniversary at GOMACO University.
Steve: Yes it did. It's been fun. I really enjoy school.
Is that why you keep coming back?
When I first started going to school there, I learned so much. Not only from GOMACO, but from the other contractors, just talking to them and picking up tidbits of what they do. Now, I go back there to mainly find out what GOMACO's doing, as far as their new machines, what they've got in the works. I don't mind sharing my knowledge with the new contractors. I don't have a problem helping them out as far as the do's and don'ts because other guys did that for me. I really enjoy talking to them and helping them out as much as I can. I have never yet gone out to school without learning or coming up with new ideas because I was there.
That's a great testament to the school.
It is, it really is. They do a great job there. I'll come back with five to six pages of notes and ideas, some might work, some won't. It's a good time for me to sit there and think about nothing but just the machine itself. It's fun talking to other contractors and it's interesting listening to some of their problems because I can guarantee you, there isn't a problem out there that we haven't had. We've been through all of it. It's kind of fun watching what these frustrated contractors are going through, and then help them out.
It's nice that you're willing to share your knowledge.
Why not? It's not like they're taking anything away from me. To me, it's kind of a high to help people out, because way back when, there were people who did the same for me.
Is there any major tip or suggestion that you'd like to share with GOMACO World readers?
Yes, just one... buy a GOMACO. That's the absolute best that I can do for them. The rest of it is up to them, with the help of GOMACO. To me, there is not another curb machine made. There really isn't. You can't put a price on a machine when it comes to something that technical. What they need to do is put the best machine first and they'll get the return on their money.