Ghilotti Brothers, Inc. was founded in San Rafael, California in 1914 by James Ghilotti, a 23-year-old Italian immigrant, who began his business by carting rocks from the hills of Marin and Sonoma Counties with a horse-drawn sled and practiced his craft as a stone mason throughout the area. Today, Ghilotti Brothers is one of the largest employers of construction personnel in Northern California.
"James Ghilotti was my grandfather," said Ghilotti Brothers President Michael M. ‘Mike’ Ghilotti. "He originally called his company James Ghilotti Contractor. In 1939 it became James Ghilotti and Sons and then Ghilotti Brothers, Inc. in 1950. In 2000, my brother Dante and I purchased the company from our father, Mario Ghilotti, who remained very much involved until his untimely death, November 20, 2010.
"Throughout all that time and transition, my grandfather’s original philosophy has been paramount: ‘Earn respect by doing a job well, treat employees with respect, and do good work for the community.’ Doing a job well requires the very best people and the very best equipment. We’ve found over the years that you only get and keep the best people if you treat them with the respect they deserve and give them state-of-the-art equipment to work with. We’re a union company with access to equipment operators who are the very best, and we value that," Ghilotti emphasized.
"We’ve also found that the best quality equipment, even though it costs somewhat more, pays off that extra cost many times over in better and more dependable service, plus greater value when you sell it or trade it in.
"The last part of James Ghilotti’s philosophy, ‘do good work for the community,’ is also very important to us," Mike Ghilotti said. "We interpret that to mean that we should be responsible citizens, as well as doing good work for our customers. Our work includes projects such as paving San Francisco airport runways, heavy highway and road construction, parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, retaining walls; all kinds of commercial and residential projects. We also do major grading, excavation and demolition work, as well as underground utilities, sewers and storm systems. So we use a lot of concrete and asphalt, and we accumulate a lot of concrete and asphalt rubble.
"In an emerging market in 1994, we were looking at how we could use materials most responsibly and not have to dispose of very many leftovers," Ghilotti said. "One major thing we decided was to go in to recycling, for three basic reasons: to keep quarries from being drawn down; to save space in landfills; and to have fewer trucks on the road, which cuts fuel consumption and carbon footprint, reduces road wear, and lessens traffic and noise.
"After a thorough investigation, and in our quest for state-of-the-art equipment, we bought the first Powerscreen® 4242SR tracked impact crusher delivered in North America. Powerscreen of California brought the machine in on demo. It performed so well we bought it right away. In 2010, we replaced the 4242SR with the first Powerscreen® XH320SR tracked impact crusher delivered in North America, which we believe is the new state-of-the-art in tracked impactors," Ghilotti said.
"We were very happy with the 4242SR and had no plans to get rid of it until Paul Campbell, Owner of Powerscreen of California, told us about its successor, the new 320SR." As good as the 4242SR is, the 320SR is better, especially for our purposes. It is well designed for recycling and demolition applications, as well as aggregates. It is compact and maneuverable. That’s important, since we move it a lot and often use it in tight quarters.
"We also bought a tracked Powerscreen® Chieftain 1400 double-deck dry screen, which is very easy to transport and provides dependable, versatile operation.
"Much of the concrete rubble we recycle contains steel mesh and rebar. The 320SR impactor handles it well and has a quick-and-easy hydraulic hood opening if we need to clear any jams. Further, the modular conveyor has a raise-lower feature to aid in clearance of rebar.
"Our new impactor crushes up to 320 tons per hour, depending on the feed rate and materials. High production is critical, since much of our business comes from public works bids, where cost is king and the lowest bidder usually wins. Powerscreen dependability is also vital in a business where downtime is a real profit killer. Maintaining the machine is simple; we just follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, and have had no problems," Ghilotti said.
"The 320SR is also relatively quiet, which is important when we want to start a new on-site crushing project and local officials are concerned about noise and potential complaints from local businesses and residents."
The XH320SR is a horizontal shaft impact crusher plant with two full and two half blow bars, hydraulic overload protection, fully independent under-crusher vibrating pan feeder, PLC controls for crusher speed variation, HFO clutch and fuel-efficient direct drive system. Power is supplied by a 230-hp Caterpillar C9 Tier III ACERT powerpack. An overband magnet is optional.
Ghilotti Brothers uses the XH320SR for two basic types of applications. The first is at four crushing yards owned or leased by the company at Lakewood, Crockett, south San Francisco, and San Rafael. Concrete/asphalt rubble is trucked in by Ghilotti Brothers from their excavating, demolition and other sites to be crushed and used in the company’s various construction jobs or sold on the market. Area contractors also bring in and leave rubble to be accumulated and crushed, and usually leave with truckloads of crushed materials. These normally include 3/4″ base and drain (clean) materials, plus 1″ and 1/2″ materials. Sometimes a little asphalt is blended in to make a sub-base product.
Secondly, the tracked crusher is used at various Ghilotti Brothers job sites such as road paving and demolition. The company also does contract crushing at customers’ locations.
"In addition to quality equipment, you need quality support from the people who sold it to you," Ghilotti emphasized. "We’re very happy with Powerscreen of California. If we ever have an equipment problem, they’re here at the drop of a hat. And we get good counsel from them, too. They’ve helped us solve problems and achieve greater production levels. We can call the owner Paul Campbell any time and get advice on all kinds of crushing situations, equipment, procedures or whatever.
"It’s a partnership between Ghilotti Brothers and Powerscreen of California that we both value very much. And it’s a two-way street. We have offered suggestions to Paul about machine features and options, which he then discusses with Powerscreen equipment designers and engineers.
"When buying equipment, any equipment, you need to look at a lot more than just the initial price," Ghilotti said. "You have to look at how much you are charging yourself for use of the equipment. You determine an internal rate based on initial price, maintenance, anticipated downtime; it’s the unexpected downtime that wreaks havoc on equipment production capabilities, fuel consumption, parts, and salvage value.
"Keep the equipment as long as the internal rate is favorable. Get rid of it when the internal rate becomes unfavorable as the equipment ages and wears. My dad, Mario, did a lot of this analysis himself over the years. And a good dealer can be a big help, too.
"What we like about quality equipment is that it’s better when you acquire it, better while you’re using it, and better when you sell it or trade it in," Ghilotti said. "Paul gave us a very good deal when we traded our 4242SR on the new XH320SR, because well-maintained used equipment still has value and is in demand. Our internal rate for the 4242SR was still favorable. We got rid of it only because a new and more technologically advanced product became available.
"Even in the down economy we’ve all been experiencing the past couple of years, Ghilotti Brothers has been investing in new, state-of-the-art equipment and has been training new people at all levels of our company. We believe it’s important to show the market that you’re a stable, progressive company with faith in the future. Companies that prepare for the return of good times will have a better, faster recovery and be stronger in the long run than companies that don’t.
"Furthermore, we’re proud of our reputation as a responsible company that can find quicker and better ways of doing things, and can tackle virtually any kind of engineering project and do it extremely well. That requires people, expertise and equipment of the very best kinds.