“It became a situation in which these companies either weren’t getting the service they needed or were dealing with major workmanship issues,” he said. “At the same time, I had a handful of guys that I had known in different capacities who were continually asking when I was going to start a new company. Matt and I saw that, if we were to start a company, we had a crew and would immediately have the work, so it made sense to move forward.”
Choosing to go with their strong suit, ACC first made inroads as a slipform paving company. However, based on their success using a stringless paving solution, ACC quickly expanded into other areas – including mass excavation, grading, and utility work – and employed Topcon GNSS-based machine control solutions there as well. The result, said Latimer, was an across-the-board improvement in the deliverable to the client.
“We have sped that process up considerably using Topcon GPS technology on our excavators, dozers, and motor graders – we even have machine control on one of our loaders which we use for fine-tuning grade with the roadbuilding crew,” he said. “Our operator loves it because he know where grade is no matter where he’s at on the site. That makes it easy for him to work alongside a blade building sub-base for road prep. So, yes, we believe in the technology and our customers are beneficiaries of that belief.”
Recently, on one of those development projects, Green Valley Ranch (GVR), a John Deere 210 excavator was at work creating a retention pond – without a grade stake in sight. According to Seth Aberle ACC’s Machine Control Specialist, excavators with GPS have all but eliminated the need for survey stakes in this type of work.
“This machine is running off a digital model and he will get this to within .1 of a foot,” he said. “Working off his screen, he will do the inlet, the forebays, the e-walls, everything. Early on, a number of our customers were skeptical of our reliance on GPS. But, after coming behind us with their own surveyors and seeing how accurate our work is, they have become believers in what we can do.”
“On larger developments, that savings can be tens of thousands of dollars,” he said. “I tell them they can save that money or put it into contingency or whatever. It’s a nice plus.”
Latimer said he had known about stringless paving technology – the ability to use a GNSS-controlled system versus the standard process in which the paver follows a manually-erected string line – existed, but not well enough to understand its real value. After doing some research, however, and seeing the strengths and shortcomings of products on the market, he began serious discussions with GOMACO and Topcon Positioning Systems.
"Both Matt and I immediately saw Millimeter GPS as a game-changer,” he said. “We knew the capital investment was pretty substantial right out of the gate, but also recognized that the payoff in efficiency would be huge.”
Armed with what he saw as a revolutionary capability, Latimer knew ACC could quickly be a force to be reckoned with. “We had lightning in a bottle and wanted to be the first in the area to utilize it,” he said. “That was our motivation to pull the trigger on going stringless and we are seeing repeatedly that we were right in doing so.”
Latimer’s optimism is grounded in fact. ACC’s performance on major projects turned heads and garnered praise based on their ability to beat projected deadlines and provide a previously unseen level of quality.
“Once they saw the results of us owning the entire project, they didn’t want anything except a full turnkey general contracting bid from us,” he said. “They know we will get it done quicker, have a better handle on quality control, and there will be no delays. Out at GVR, we have shaved nearly two months off the schedule. Obviously, they are thrilled. Not only does it get sales moving, but it also improves their standing with the corporate side of the business. And most of that time-savings can be tied directly to the technology because we no longer have to wait. Once we build the models – which we do in-house – we are ready to go with overall control of the project.”
For an example of how much better can a GNSS solution be, Aberle points to a project which involved paving 10,000 linear feet of 5-foot wide sidewalk. He estimates that using a traditional approach, the job with everything factored in – setup, moving the stringline and stakes, and teardown – probably would have taken close to two weeks.
“Using the Millimeter GPS system, we were able to get it all poured in three days,” he said. “That much of a reduction in time is huge because it opens up the developer’s window for getting permits and so on. We got on board with GPS early and it’s allowed us to really capitalize on it.”
“In spite of all that’s going on, we are very fortunate to have a tremendous backlog of work moving forward,” he said. “It’s most important to remember that a huge part of our success is the result of the guys in the field, our people, and our subcontractors. We have the technology, we have the people, we have the work, and we have a solid reputation for providing quality. I would say we have been blessed.”