The Break Fast Show #629

In today’s show: We’re saying bonjour to a small but perfectly formed new model from Manitou; there’s no business like snow business for Bobcat; get set for the Kentucky bridge blast; and CASE cleans up the Ivory Coast.

PLUS someone is for the chop from Madame Guillotine.

Join us LIVE for your daily fix of news, views, video and comment from the world of demolition and construction.

Come for the news and stay for the chat in our after-show discussion session, The Craic.

The final nail in the coffin

Construction News is reporting that Squibb Group has been officially wound-up. It brings to an end 75 years of trading for one of the UK’s best-known demolition contractors.

The court appointed the official receiver as provisional liquidator of the company despite pleas from the Squibb Group barrister to appoint two individuals that have been dealing with the company’s financial affairs as it attempted to remain solvent.

During the hearing, counsel for HMRC said there had been a “lack of communication” from Squibb’s nominated liquidators and said that the £18 million said to be owed to HMRC was “not being properly treated”.

The official receiver will now appoint a liquidator, a process that is expected to take around eight weeks.

Read more here.

Sam’s story

This story is a work of fiction. Or is it?

Like most children, Sam looks forward to the weekend. It’s not that he doesn’t like school; he does. But when Saturday rolls around, he generally gets to spend some time with his dad. They’ll walk the dog in the park, go fishing, maybe even go to the football. When they hold hands, Sam can feel the scars and the callouses on his dad’s enormous hands. To Sam, weekends are special. Very special indeed.

Sam is eight and he loves diggers. The walls of his bedroom are covered with posters of JCB and Caterpillar machines. He has a set of yellow pyjamas that are covered in tiny silhouettes of backhoe loaders, dozers and dumptrucks. Those silhouettes were once black but now they’re grey; faded by countless washes. The trousers are also a bit too short because he got them when he was six. But they’re his favourites and he refuses to part with them.

Sam’s fascination with diggers and demolition stems from his dad. His dad drives a digger for a living – A JCB 140X to be precise. Sam had to draw his dad for a school project once and, even though his dad has always left from work long before he was awake, Sam drew him in full PPE complete with hard hat and safety boots. He is just eight years old, but Sam already knows that he wants to drive a digger when he’s older, just like his dad.

It is a Monday morning. Sam’s mother calls him for breakfast, and there is the usual mad dash trying to locate school shoes, matching socks and the school books he abandoned on Friday evening. As they leave the house, Sam spots his dad’s car. “Is dad here?” he asks excitedly. His mother tells him that his dad is not at work today.

Sam can’t wait for the school day to be over. He almost drags his mother along the path as they return from school. His dad’s car is still there!

He finds his dad in the front room. The lights are off, the curtains are still closed and the TV is on but it is muted. There is a half-eaten sandwich on a plate balanced on the arm of his dad’s favourite chair. His dad is holding a full cup of tea that has gone cold.

“Dad,” Sam shouts and runs to his father. His dad sets down that undrunk cup of tea and hugs Sam tightly. “Hello mate,” his dad says (he never calls him Sam, only mate). “How was school?” Sam says it was alright and then asks his dad about work. “Why weren’t you at work today,” Sam asks. “There was no work today,” his dad replies. “Have you got any homework?” his father says, quickly changing the subject.

His dad’s car is there again on Tuesday morning. It’s there on Wednesday too. It is never there that often unless he is on holiday. This is a rare treat for Sam; like Christmas has come a few weeks early.

Sam is of an age when he has started to question the existence of Santa. However, back at the beginning of November when his dad suggested that he write to Santa, he did so without hesitation. You can’t be too careful with these things.

Top of Sam’s list is a PlayStation 5 together with a digger simulator game. So when Sam is coming down the stairs on Friday morning and hears his mum say the word “PlayStation” his ears prick up. He then hears his dad say something like “how am I going to tell him?”

His parents are doing a weird shout-whispering, like they’re angry but they don’t want anyone else to know.

“Morning mate,” his dad says as Sam bowls into the kitchen. It is school time and his dad is wearing a dressing gown. He has the beginnings of a beard too. When Sam says goodbye, his dad’s hug is a bit tighter than usual, and it lasts a bit longer.

Sam is on his way into class when Frankie walks up beside him. Frankie is not really a friend, but their fathers work at the same demolition company so they sometimes go to the football together. “Has your dad been laid off too?” Frankie asks. “I don’t know,” he replies. “I don’t know what that means.”

“It means he’s been kicked out of his job,” Frankie says. “My dad’s been laid off and he’s just sitting at home. He keeps on arguing with my mum.”

Maybe Sam’s dad has been “laid off”. Perhaps that’s why he’s not at work. And maybe that explains that weird shout-whispering his parents keep doing.

“What does laid off mean,” Sam says when he gets home to find his dad back on the sofa.

An expression comes over his dad’s face. It is an expression he has seen before but he can’t quite place when or why. But when his dad says “Come and sit down mate,” he knows exactly what is coming. That face and that instruction to sit down was precisely what happened before his dad told him that the family cat had been killed by a car. Something bad is about to happen. Sam can sense it. He hesitates. Maybe if he doesn’t sit down, maybe the bad news won’t get him. But his dad pats the sofa cushion and Sam has no option. He sits.

“Look mate,” his dad begins. “I have been laid off. That means that work doesn’t need me any more. I am looking for another job but there’s not much out there this time of year.”

Sam has never seen his dad cry. But there’s something vaguely ‘glassy’ about his eyes. His dad is not crying but it looks like he could at any moment.

“Mate I know how good you have been this year. Mum is always telling me how helpful you are and your grades at school are brilliant. But, the thing is, I can’t afford to get you that PlayStation right now.”

Sam frowns, confused. Afford? “But Santa,” he begins. And that’s when it happens. That glassy look in his dad’s eyes becomes actual tears. “Oh Sam,” he says. “I thought you knew.”

Sam’s mind is racing. Is my dad crying? Did my dad just confirm that Santa isn’t real? And then there was the weirdest thing of all. My dad just called me Sam. He NEVER calls me Sam. Hearing the name Sam come out of his dad’s mouth is like seeing someone that normally wears glasses without their spectacles: weird, not quite right, discomforting.

He doesn’t know it at the time, but this is a defining moment for Sam. This isn’t the day he becomes a man; that is still nearly nine years, two cans of cider and an older girl called Lucy in the future. But it is a turning point nonetheless.

A few weeks later, on Christmas morning, he tears open the gift wrapping to find a new set of pyjamas emblazoned with Spiderman, Captain America and – his favourite – Iron Man. There is no conscious decision. But his old digger pyjamas move further and further towards the back of the chest of drawers in his bedroom. When his mother finally throws them away, he doesn’t even notice.

As the years pass, the digger posters on his wall are slowly replaced, first by superheroes, and then by supermodels.

He is just a few weeks shy of his 15th birthday when his school hosts a careers evening. A number of companies have taken miniature exhibition stands in the hope of attracting an enthusiastic school leaver or two. There is an estate agency, an optician, the local newspaper, a cardboard factory and even the army has taken a stand. A plant hire and demolition company also has a booth that is covered with photos of backhoe loaders, dozers and dumptrucks, just like Sam’s old PJs.

The man on the booth sees Sam walking towards the booth and says: “What do you want to be when you leave school son? We always need smart lads like you in construction.”

“No thanks,” Sam says politely. “Demolition’s not for me.”

The Break Fast Show #628

In today’s show: We say a fond farewell to Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station; things get epic with a Liebherr R 9800 excavator; and electric is the answer for indoor demolition.

PLUS how Rhodarr is harnessing Hyundai power.

Join us LIVE for your daily fix of news, views, video and comment from the world of demolition and construction.

Come for the news and stay for the chat in our after-show discussion session, The Craic.

The Break Fast Show #627

In today’s show: When Africans and Indians combine; Keestrack are crushing it; when the old and the new come together; and another new Cat excavator, another inexplicable name.

PLUS McMahon delivers true social value.

Join us LIVE for your daily fix of news, views, video and comment from the world of demolition and construction.

Come for the news and stay for the chat in our after-show discussion session, The Craic.

The Break Fast Show #626

In today’s show: Getting more done with the Caterpillar 320D3 and 323D3 H excavators; an autonomous excavator intelligent enough to select the rocks for a load-bearing wall; and we’re off to the seaside once again to see how Aggregate Industries is helping to protect the town of Minehead from flooding.

PLUS we are going to hospital with Carolina Demolition.

Join us LIVE for your daily fix of news, views, video and comment from the world of demolition and construction.

Come for the news and stay for the chat in our after-show discussion session, The Craic.

The Break Fast Show #625

In today’s show: Hitachi hatches new excavators; how Caterpillar is pioneering autonomous machine operation; we’re off to the seaside with Ovenden; and a Komatsu high reach lands in the US.

PLUS creating the perfect jump in Hong Kong.

Join us LIVE for your daily fix of news, views, video and comment from the world of demolition and construction.

Come for the news and stay for the chat in our after-show discussion session, The Craic.

Biffa acquires Hamilton Waste

Biffa has today announced the acquisition of Hamilton Waste and Recycling Limited (HWR), Scotland’s leading construction and demolition collection and processing business.

HWR, a family-owned company that has been incorporated since 2002, is one of the leading independent recycling and resource management companies in Scotland, processing over 135,000 tonnes of material annually.

Its processing and recycling business includes wood and plasterboard as well as recycling and diverting over 65,000 mattresses away from landfill every year.

In 2021 HWR became Scotland’s first waste management company to achieve 100 percent carbon-neutral status. It diverts over 95% of incoming waste from landfill and has invested over £10 million at its state-of-the-art multi award-winning recycling centre at Smeaton, near Edinburgh.

The acquisition of HWR is a significant step for Biffa, expanding its waste capabilities in the construction and demolition sector, further underpinning its commitment to low-carbon collections and material processing.

Biffa is acquiring the entire share capital and will welcome the 100 strong team at HWR into its collections business, along with 49 vehicles and 1,400 new customers including construction groups, restaurants, and local authorities.

Biffa already operates C&D processing facilities in Newcastle, Birmingham and Cardiff. The addition of HWR to the Biffa Group will enhance its services for customers across central Scotland, while enabling it to replicate HWR’s best-in-class C&D processing knowledge across the rest of the UK.

Two quarry restoration sites in Edinburgh and Glasgow do not form part of the acquisition and will remain under the direct control of the Hamilton family.

Maxine Mayhew, Chief Operating Officer, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Hamilton team and customers to the Biffa Group. Biffa is the largest collector of waste and recycling in the UK and the addition of HWR’s award-winning capability in the construction and demolition sector will further strengthen our services in this important market. HWR’s sustainability credentials are impressive, and we look forward to working together to leverage Biffa’s unique position at the heart of the circular economy, enabling more customers to meet their carbon reduction commitments.”

Robin Stevenson, Managing Director of Hamilton Waste, said: “We are delighted to have completed the sale of the business and I look forward to working with Biffa as HWR starts this exciting new chapter.

“Our customers will continue to be serviced under the HWR brand, by the same team who are committed to providing the most sustainable service possible, while also being able to draw on Biffa’s extensive pool of resources and expertise.”

The Break Fast Show #624

In today’s show: JCB is back in black; Birmingham prepares to say goodbye to the Irish Centre; 10 million tonnes moved without human intervention; and we have a blast from the past – a Clark Michigan wheeled dozer.

PLUS from Russia with love.

Join us LIVE for your daily fix of news, views, video and comment from the world of demolition and construction.

Come for the news and stay for the chat in our after-show discussion session, The Craic.

FREE children’s books

We find ourselves in the midst of a cost of living crisis. Far too many demolition and construction professionals have found themselves between jobs. And Christmas is almost upon us.

So I have raided my archives and I have found some spare copies of a pair of children’s books written by myself and my friend John Woodward. And I am going to give them away as stocking fillers.

I don’t need to know your back story; there is no competition; and you don’t need to sign up to anything. Just let me have your postal address and I will get them in the post, no cost and no questions asked.

Let me be clear, the books are suitable for children aged three to seven, or thereabouts. And they will only be available while stocks last.