Compact Loader Stays Busy At Hurlburt Field

By Steve Hudson | September 28, 2010

Lyons Construction, based in Crestview, FL, got its start 18 years ago. The company was founded by Tony and his wife Billie; several other family members also work in the business. These include Tony's sons Lee, Max and Jon as well as brother Nathan Lyons, who run projects in the field. Billie oversees the office side of the operation.

Originally, the company focused on residential projects.

"But we saw the changes in the market beginning to take place," says Tony, "and shifted to commercial work and then to military work." Today, in fact, most of the company's work is on bases.

Concrete Work At Hurlburt Field

One such project is Lyons Construction's recent work at the new Fire Crash Rescue Facility for Hurlburt Field in Pensacola, FL. Lyons handled all concrete and foundation flatwork on the construction of this new 50,000-square-foot facility, working for general contractor Whitesell Green Inc., Fort Walton, FL.

The project included not only construction of 10-foot by 10-foot by 24-inch-thick footings for the building's columns but also construction of 16-inch by 34-inch wall footers around the building perimeter. Constructing these footers involved about 600 yards of dirt work; it was handled by an ASV compact track loader, one of several ASV compact loaders in the Lyons fleet.

The slab construction component began with fine grading, also handled by an ASV compact track loader.

Crews then placed a 6-inch rock base, again calling on the ASV for rock transport and placement.

Compact Equipment Is Key

Tony and Nathan agree that the compact size of the ASV makes it well suited for the type of projects that Lyons Construction typically handles.

"On many of our projects, this one included, the building walls have already been erected by the time our work begins," Tony says. "Space is tight, and access may only be through door openings." But the ASV, he adds, is able to work through the tight openings and deliver materials as required.

On this project, the ASV brought in and spread the rock base.

"We get many comments from other contractors about how the machine allows us to work in tight quarters," Nathan says, "and about how tight we can get to pipe." The ASV RC80, with a width of about 6 feet, is well suited for handling dirt work, Tony says, adding, "It pushes dirt like a bulldozer." The smaller RC60, he continues, is ideal for working in and out of 6-foot-wide door openings. This saves a great deal of time, he says, but he adds that it also significantly reduces the number of workers needed to complete such jobs.

"We figure that one ASV is the equivalent of four or five workers," he says.

Attachments Enhance Versatility

For added versatility, Lyons Construction has outfitted its ASV compact loaders with several attachments. The standard bucket stays busy moving dirt — on this project, it moved more than 600 yards of dirt during footer excavation and construction.

Other attachments in the Lyons lineup include forks for transporting materials, a boom for setting rebar, and a grapple bucket for cleanup. Other attachments include a 3/4-yard mud bucket for transporting concrete; in some cases (for example, during construction of footers) this can eliminate the need to pump concrete.

Tony adds that Lyons' workers have little difficulty picking up the subtleties of operating a compact machine such as the ASV loader.

"They become experts in no time," he says.

Constructing The Slab

The slab itself, which was designed to handle heavy firefighting vehicles, has a thickness of 8 inches and is heavily reinforced. To complete it — once the rock base was in place — crews placed a protective barrier, then placed and tied the rebar.

Finally, the 8-inch concrete slab was poured. It required about 800 yards of concrete, which was supplied by USA Readymix. The concrete was pumped by Craftsman Concrete Pumping, Pensacola, FL.

Focus On Safety — And On Relationships

Lyons Construction puts great emphasis on safety.

"We have a vigorous safety program," Tony says. This includes Monday safety meetings every week. During the meetings, presentations focus on topics relevant to the current project activities.

"Our goal is to make sure that everybody is always aware of safety," he says.

Tony adds that Lyons Construction encourages two-way communication when it comes to safety issues.

"We encourage our employees to be open with their concerns," he says, "and we encourage active inputfrom them."

This focus on safety, he adds, is just one element of Lyons' approach to managing its employees.

"We enjoy working together," Tony says, "and we treat all of our employees as family. We look out for our employees' needs, and we feel that helps us work well together in the long run."

The approach pays off too, Max adds, noting that some employees have been with the company more than a dozen years.

"We make sure that everybody is taken care of," he says, "because we need them to take care of us when we get that next job."