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Video – Mill of the future imploded…

Blast lays to rest futuristic plant erected in 1967.

The so-called “mill of the future” is no more. The Weirton Steel Basic Oxygen Plant in West Virginia was imploded on Saturday morning.

The massive BOP mill was completed in 1967 and covered more than six acres at the north end of town. At the time, it was dubbed the “mill of the future.”

Comment – Harmony restored…

The NFDC has a new president; and a positive outlook to go with it.

Day and night. Black and white. Chalk and cheese. And now to this list of polar opposites we can add the 2018 annual general meeting of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors and the 2019 annual general meeting of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors.

This time last year, the atmosphere at The Rosewood – the chosen venue for the NFDC AGM – crackled with discord and dissatisfaction. The whiff of rebellion hung heavy in the air even as the incumbent NFDC president clung on before finally surrendering his position a month or two later. This year was markedly different, however.

Acting (and outgoing) president David Keane has spent the past nine months pouring oil onto troubled waters (metaphorically you understand; no modern demolition man would risk such an environmental catastrophe by using real oil on real water). The result was not just an improved atmosphere but something close to a rebirth.

This annual general marked the day the National Federation of Demolition Contractors crowned its first-ever female president. Keltbray’s Holly Price takes the top job on merit and as just reward for her tireless commitment at a period in the Federation’s history when it might have been easier to throw in the towel. Her appointment is not mere tokenism. It is a reflection of what appears to the Federation’s new face. Time will judge the success of her presidency, of course. But with her demolition and training bent, she already feels like the right president for today. And in Cawarden’s William Crooks, Price will have the support of a well-respected vice chairman to help her push her agenda and shift the NFDC even further into the 21st century.

History might recall this AGM as the day upon which the NFDC elected its first female president. But the meeting heralded much more besides. Cantillon’s Elpida Christodoulou was named as demolition manager of the year, proof positive that the women are coming at long last. (The NFDC website will, I am sure, contain full details of the winners of the NFDC awards).

Yet for all the positive embracing of femininity that saw the planet align on International Women’s Day, I will remember this particular NFDC AGM for a whole host of other reasons.

I shall remember this year’s AGM for the sheer class displayed by KDC Contractors’ Martin O’Donnell who – but for a strange quirk of employment would have been sporting the president’s chains of office rather than Holly Price. O’Donnell handled himself with dignity throughout what must have been a day of bitter disappointment. That dignity remained when he received a standing ovation from the assembled members. That is the mark of the man. The fact that the standing ovation was instigated by Holly Price is the mark of the woman.

I shall remember this AGM for the very faint but unmistakable crack in David Keane’s voice as he prepared to hand over the reins to Holly Price. He admitted that he had twice turned down the job before finally riding to the rescue in the Federation’s hour of needs. The fact that he was reluctant to leave a job he had tried to avoid says much about his commitment to the Federation. The fact that he was honoured with an award in recognition of his achievements during his brief nine months in charge was totally justified and universally applauded.

I shall remember this AGM as the day upon which the NFDC made it officially acceptable to talk about mental health issues in the demolition industry. Of course, the Federation has been talking about this for some time now. But it has now set in place a framework to help its members help their employees to tackle a scourge that is claiming the lives of as many as two construction and demolition men each week here in the UK. That announcement may be lost amidst the news of a female president. But make no mistake. Addressing mental health, depression and suicide within the sector might prove to be the most important revolution since the adoption of hard hats.

I shall remember this AGM for the fact that the industry’s new-found openness about mental health allowed a well-known and much-respected demolition man to literally cry on my shoulder over a recent suicide of a young colleague. I respected him before. I respect him even more now.

But, when all is said and done, I shall remember this AGM for a single moment that probably lasted less than a second and which was likely seen by no-one other than myself.

Holly Price had already received the chains of office during the morning session (surely the first time an outgoing president had welcomed his successor with a kiss rather than a hand-shake) and had spent the remainder of the morning and lunchtime receiving congratulations. In fact, she had been president for a few hours when the NFDC Awards compere Gyles Brandreth called onto the stage “the new president of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors”.

There was a nanosecond of hesitation before a smile of pure pride spread across her face as she realised that Brandreth was talking about her.

Of course, Holly Price’s presidency starts now and she will be under no illusions about the challenges ahead. But this feels like a new Federation; a Federation equipped for the 21st century.

As I walked away from The Rosewood, I looked back over what had been an enjoyable day spent with an almost universally harmonious membership. Through Holly Price’s presidency, Martin O’Donnell’s quiet dignity, David Keane’s emotional pride and that new-found openness about mental health, I found myself thinking for the first time in a good many years: “This is a Federation I could get behind”.

Comment – Cometh the hour…

How David Keane’s stewardship put the NFDC back on course.

At the Rosewood Hotel in West London later this morning, David Keane will once again hand over the presidential reins of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC), the organisation of which he has been acting president for the past nine months. Unforeseen circumstances and last-ditch power grabs notwithstanding, Keane will pass the chains of office to Keltbray’s Holly Price who is set to become the Federation’s first-ever female president (appropriately, on International Women’s Day).

Now the reasons for David Keane’s return for a second term in the Federation hot-seat – Paul Brown’s premature and unprecedented ejection – still rankles with me. But even Brown’s most vocal supporters – and I count myself among them – cannot understate the job that Keane has done in restoring stability to the good ship NFDC.

He could have said no. After all, he had served his time as president back in 2001 and one term is enough for most and too much for many. There were probably times during his second tenure when he may have regretted answering the Federation’s call. But when that call came, Keane stepped up to the plate. And, although such a term feels slightly at odds with the very British institution that is the NFDC, he subsequently “hit it out of the park”.

Those expecting Keane to be the measured diplomat the Federation needed were not disappointed. Those that expected Keane to just bide his time and keep his head down, however, will have been shocked at the way in which he has grasped the Federation by the scruff of the neck and given it the much-needed shake it so desperately needed.

With 150-odd members (some of them way odder than others) split among five geographic regions, the pursuit of unity is always going to be a fool’s errand. But Keane’s willingness to listen, to understand and to act has afforded the NFDC a level of harmony it has not enjoyed for some considerable time. He has quelled dissenting voices, rebuilt bridges and – perhaps most importantly – restored respectability to an organisation wracked with infighting and division this time last year.

There is every possibility that, at some point later today, someone will announce that David Keane has been awarded the Demolition Achievement award; that tends to be the way with outgoing NFDC presidents. In this instance, such a reward would be well-deserved and entirely fitting.

In truth, however, the real prize winner in all of this will be Holly Price. There is no question that she has earned her place as NFDC president. There is no question that she has earned the opportunity to shape the Federation in her own image, or that she has the credentials to do so with considerable aplomb.

But the fact that she can do so from a blank canvas and with the support of a (mostly) united membership stems entirely from the diplomacy, leadership and pragmatism demonstrated by David Keane during his acting presidency. And if the NFDC emerges from all those past trials and tribulations reborn, it will be due to the nurturing care it received during its nine months under David Keane’s care.

Audio – Can we talk…?

Demolition News Radio unveils new training-focused podcast.

Regular readers might recall that, late last year, we announced that we were working towards the launch of a new audio podcast dedicated to the subject of demolition training; a field of endeavour that changes almost as quickly as the industry it serves.

Well, that new show is finally ready for you to hear. And we start at the very top with an exclusive two-part interview with Howard Button and Lesley Ransome at the National Demolition Training Group.

Now, like any trade body, the NDTG has come under criticism in the past, not least from me. So I was pleased – and a little surprised – that the NDTG not only agreed to take part in this show but that they were extremely transparent in the face of some pretty tough questions.

The full interview lasts for almost 30 minutes, which is a lot to digest in a single sitting. So we have split the interview into two shows of roughly 15 minutes each.

You can listen to the show by pressing the play button (below) or you can just search for Demolition News Radio on your preferred podcast platform.

We really hope you enjoy this first part and that you’ll check back soon for Part 2.

Hammer time at Kinshofer…

A meeting of minds as Kinshofer enters hydraulic breaker sector.

Kinshofer and Hammer S.r.l. have announced that they have signed a definite agreement to merge. Under the terms of the agreement Kinshofer has acquired a majority shareholding of Hammer.

Kinshofer is a leading manufacturer of attachments for excavators, skid steer loaders and truck-mounted cranes. The company has something of a reputation for growth by acquisition. Previous acquisitions include Liftall Inc. (Canada), Demarec B.V. (Holland), RF System AB (Sweden), Auger Torque Group (U.K./ U.S.A./ Australia/ China), Solesbee´s LLC (U.S.A.) and the Doherty Group (New Zealand/ Australia).

Kinshofer reports that the acquisition of Hammer is significant in two ways; first it adds additional product segments, such as a full range of hydraulic breakers and other demolition tools to Kinshofer’s already very comprehensive offering. And secondly, it improves Kinshofer’s distribution channel in markets Hammer is very strong.

“Kinshofer continues its strategy to provide the industry with a “One-Stop-Shop” solution of outstandingly engineered products to increase efficiency and, more importantly, profitability of its customers,” says Thomas Friedrich, President & CEO of Kinshofer Group. “The acquisition of Hammer was the next step in our approach to be a global industry leader with solid local presence.”

Full details of this important acquisition will appear in the next edition of the Demolition magazine.

Video – Man jailed over digger rampage…

Another non-payment; another example of wanton destruction.

A man who shouted “whoop whoop” as he filmed himself destroying five newly-built retirement bungalows with an excavator has been jailed for four years. Daniel Neagu, 31, had music blaring from the radio as he wrecked houses worth up to £475,000 each in Buntingford, Hertfordshire, on August 11 2018 over unpaid wages.

Dramatic footage of the roughly 40-minute rampage shows him repeatedly ram the digger into the bungalows. He shouts “F****** shit company”, whistles the tune to Freed From Desire, and rants in Romanian during the demolition.

In one clip he tells a passer-by he is owed £16,000, adding: “I decided even if get in trouble I did it for a reason, because I didn’t get paid, you know what I mean?” The man replies: “Go back in and smash up another one.”

As he wrecks another, Neagu says: “Beautiful houses, you have to take it down and rebuild it, that’s because you didn’t want to pay me.”

Sentencing Neagu at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday, Judge Stephen Warner said it was a “wholesale destruction” and a “pure act of revenge”. He said the footage was “truly shocking”, adding: “It’s quite clear from your demeanour that you were perfectly relaxed and quite unashamed.”

This successful prosecution follows just a few weeks after a man went on a similar rampage at a Travelodge in Liverpool over unpaid wages. You can view a video of that “>here, or listen to our podcast on the subject here.

Read more here, or view the video below:

Demolition TV – Downwell in action…

Downwell Demolition is hard at work in Lewisham, south London.

We are proud of just about everything we produce here at Demolition News Towers. But, every once in a while, we produce something that exceeds even our expectations.

After a visit to a Downwell Demolition site in Lewisham recently, we produced the following film and – if we say so ourselves – we have hit it out of the park.

Of course, I can take no credit for it. Downwell was doing a great job and our video production team captured the action – I was there pretty much to make up the numbers! That being said, I am VERY proud of this film. I hope you like it too.

VIdeo – AR Demolition goes shopping…

Time-lapse video captures all the action.

In addition to being a much-respected demolition contractor, AR Demolition has something of a reputation for the quality of its video output too. And this new time-lapse film, which captures the company’s work at the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre in Nottingham certainly maintains that reputation:

Video – Demolition date set for Brayton Point…

Massachusetts cooling towers set to fall on 27 April.

The iconic cooling towers at the Brayton Point power plant will be demolished in April.

Representatives of Commercial Development Co., which now owns the former coal-fired facility, have informed local residents that the towers would be brought down by way of controlled demolition on April 27.

The two 152 metre tall towers were constructed in 2009 at a cost of $600 million. Their purpose was to cool the extremely hot water from the plant before it was discharged into Mount Hope Bay.

The Gold Standard…

Demolition magazine celebrates its fifth anniversary with suitably subtle new issue.

It is five years since we unveiled the first-ever edition of the Demolition magazine. It was created in a fit of pique and – as a result – with a degree of haste. But we had done our homework. We recognised that by harnessing social media, we could reach a global audience. We knew that by utilising video (and, later, audio) we could increase the value we could deliver to readers. We knew that by drawing content from across international borders and from within and without the sector’s various trade bodies whilst fiercely defending our independence, we could help increase the sum of industry knowledge. And, perhaps more than anything else, we knew that demolition is just the job that demolition people do but it is not what defines them as individuals.

So we eschewed the usual “big digger” front covers favoured by our rivals. We regularly included “lifestyle” articles on cars, technology and clothing. We were the first to address the issue of mental health awareness (including the provision of free advertising for the Mates in Mind charity that does such sterling work in this sector). We were the first to feature smaller and even start-up demolition contractors because we firmly believe that they too should have a voice. And we were unabashed in offering our opinions upon the issues facing the industry at large.

Here we are five years later. The original “strictly black” front cover has this time given way to a gold one to mark our fifth anniversary. If that seems immodest, then you clearly haven’t been watching us closely enough!

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