Following the demise of Cornish demolition firm DRS Demolition National in 2015, the area once again found itself without a dedicated local contractor who were capable of taking on the complicated and skilful work of dismantling buildings in a safe and controlled manner.
However, following a short period in the wilderness, Darren Shrigley, the son of the former owner of DRS, Dave Shrigley spotted a window of opportunity to put his stamp on an industry that he had grown up around and indeed cut his teeth in as a machine operator.
Talking about his new venture Darren said, “Pretty soon after the closure of my father’s business, I spotted that there was going to be a massive gap in the market down here in the South West for a demolition firm and with that in mind in the May of 2015 I formed DWS (Demolition South West Ltd). In early 2016 we won a contract to demolish the iconic Ponsmere Hotel in Perranporth, Cornwall. This job gave us a great start and involved the removal of asbestos, internally and externally, the complete soft strip of 80 bedrooms, bars and recreational rooms and the salvage of some 2000 m2 of timber floorboards.”
Darren continued, “Of course to tackle this job I needed machinery, so I got in touch with our friends at Molson Group, Jonathon Wilson and his son Tom who agreed to hire me a 20 tonne Hyundai hydraulic excavator. We hired the Hyundai for 5-6 weeks and I really liked the machine so decided to purchase it rather than hire it any longer as it’s dead money hiring for too long, to be honest this job was the catalyst we needed to kick start the fledgling business and we haven’t looked back since.”
Shortly after the hotel job the company won a contract to work for IMERYS the French owned company who run the China Clay extraction business in Cornwall, a period of rapid expansion followed, and good money was earnt which has enabled the company to invest in more machines. The work with IMERYS has since snowballed and the company have a number of jobs on the go around the St Austell area.
Managing Director Darren has been joined in the new business by a number of staff who were at the previous firm namely Nick Southall, who takes on a similar role as Contracts Manager and James Loveridge has taken on the role of Health & Safety Manager. A number of the old boys on the ground and on the machines have returned, but they are also looking to invest in youth, by attracting ‘young blood’ to come into the industry, talking about this Darren said, “We have been lucky to bring in some new lads who are good young operators whom I’ve known for some time and in return we are putting them through their training to get their tickets, at the end of the day like everyone else now we are finding it hard to source good quality experienced operators with so many older guys retiring and taking all that experience with them, so as a company we are really keen to bring on young local talent.”
Interestingly enough a lot of these new lads are coming into the demolition industry from the waste recycling sector in Cornwall, looking for a new challenge. According to Darren they are finding the industry a refreshing change to recycling and in addition they already have good knowledge of separating materials for onward processing.
The lads generally start on the smaller scale demolition projects while taller, or as Darren put it, ‘scary’ buildings are generally taken down by Darren and Nick themselves to a level where the less experienced lads can handle it safely.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the machine fleet is now dominated by the Hyundai brand. The fleet ranges from a 3-tonne mini excavator up to a 40-tonne class 380LC-9A which has recently joined them. CR 80, eight tonners 14 and 21 tonne models complete the fleet line-up. Darren said, “We do feel that people tend to buy from people and we like many others have built up a good working relationship with Molson’s, our local rep Tom Wilson looks after us very well and we have become good friends, he always offers us some cracking deals so we are very happy with our preferred supplier.”
Some of the machines in the fleet are second hand units which have been refurbished, if required, to a very high standard by Molson. The latest addition is the 40-tonne class 380LC-9A model, which is working on a site in St Austell. The machine had been shot blasted and re-painted, new side impact skirts added where needed, demolition specification belly guards fitted, FOPS cab guard and full ‘fall from height’ boxing ring protection added. Talking of boxing rings, the company is investing in the set ups to fit on all its machines, so it can comply with the industry regulations ahead of their application to join the NFDC (National Federation of Demolition Contractors) scheme.
The Hyundai 380LC-9A has been teamed up with a Sandvik crusher which are both working on the site of an old China Clay drying works not far from the town of St Austell, work here has been ongoing for some two-years and initially saw the company taking down old sheds that covered the area. Some asbestos had to be dealt with first, this task was performed by sister company ASW Environmental Ltd, and the timber roof was stripped down for recycling. The 380LC-9A and a 220LC-9A are now engaged in dismantling some heavy duty concrete structures which will be fed through the crusher for re-use as hardcore.
Ably assisting Duncan on the job is long term plant man, Ivon May, who is running the 220LC-9A equipped with hydraulic breaker, smashing up the larger lumps into something a bit more manageable for the crusher.
The whole area where this clay drying facility once stood will eventually be put back to farming land which will require landscaping to follow the contours of the hillside and surrounding land.
The company are now on the lookout for another yard that will be home to the crusher when it’s not out on mobile duties. It will be the main focus for the new material processing facility and we would expect to see more recycling kit being added to the fleet as workload expands.
Summarizing Darren said, “Our business has come a long way in a short period of time, in addition to the plant we are now running a couple of trucks with hook-loader’s and around half a dozen vans. Now going forward, I feel that the crusher would benefit from having a new wheeled loader to work with it, that will potentially be from the Hyundai stable and possibly another 40-tonne class excavator will join the fleet, it’s an exciting time for the business and I’m looking forward to pushing it on.”