Business Builder

A fully equipped combination truck helps a Connecticut contractor open up entirely new service lines and earn a big return on investment.
Business Builder

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When Ben Govotski bought a 2007 GapVax HV-56 combination truck, he got a much bigger return on investment than he expected. Govotski, owner of Berkshire Industrial Services in Torrington, Conn., bought the truck three years ago for $485,000.

 

It helped him open markets he never anticipated. “That truck basically took a part-time addition to our concrete-cutting business and helped us develop a full-time separate business entity,” Govotski says. “We never imagined all the doors it would open. We weren’t even in the vacuum business when we bought it.”

 

The company’s core business is cutting concrete, mainly the decks of bridges, in preparation for demolition. Crews use diamond-blade saws cooled with water, and the process creates a slurry of concrete dust. The company was using a small trailer-mounted vacuum unit to clean up the slurry, but its 3-inch line kept plugging up.

 

“We needed more capacity, so we bought the truck,” Govotski says. “It led us into industrial pipe cleaning and other markets. Things worked out really well, considering we bought it right before the economic downturn. We were very fortunate to get a couple of jobs right when we bought it. We get a lot of work from existing clients.”

 

Multiple options

It helped that Govotski ordered the truck with numerous options, just in case. “The guys at GapVax said there wasn’t much else we could have added to the truck,” Govotski says. “We feel we can basically do any job. Many companies would need multiple trucks to do what we do with one truck.”

 

The truck cleans catch basins and retention ponds and everything in between. It also does hydroexcavating for construction companies and utilities.

 

The truck generates 27 inches Hg vacuum at 5,400 cfm, and the water pump delivers 5,000 psi/10 gpm. The unit carries a 1,000-gallon water tank and a 17-cubic-yard debris tank. It also has six cyclones and wet- and dry-mode filtration. Extras include:

• An 850,000 Btu/hour burner that heats water for cutting frozen ground.

• A water recirculation system that keeps the water tank from freezing.

• An air system that blows water out of the lines in winter.

• Heated boxes to store tools and keep water system components functioning.

• A 25-foot boom.

• Custom tube trays that hold pipe and hand tools.

• A hydraulic vibrator that shakes wet material loose for easier offloading.

 

The truck also carries a custom lighting package. “The guys at GapVax call it the Christmas tree because there are strobe lights everywhere,” Govotski says. “We do a lot of work in the middle of roads, so it’s handy to have plenty of lights. There have been times when residents near a work site have asked us to turn off some of the lights.”

 

Handling tough jobs

To illustrate the truck’s power, Govotski points to holding tanks Berkshire cleans for a company that makes granite countertops and other custom stone products. The slurry from stone cutting settles in a dozen holding tanks from 1,000 to 6,000 gallons. The company used to clean the tanks with an older vacuum truck, and it took three days.

 

“It’s a difficult job because of the amount of water in the slurry,” Govotski says. “Plus we can’t get the truck inside the building, so we have to run 200 feet of 6-inch pipe. But we can do the job in one day.”

 

Govotski recently bid on a project that entails pumping thousands of cubic yards of material vertically for 150 feet from underground stormwater caverns. “That’s what’s so great about the truck,” he says. “It’s basically unstoppable.”



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