The Break Fast Show #478

In today’s show: John Deere focuses on precision with its Smart Grade offering; Caterpillar will use the ConExpo show to highlight its commitment to technology; and Liebherr shows just what it takes to build one of its mining excavators.

PLUS there will be a surprising name at ConExpo next week.

Join us LIVE for the Break Fast Show – the only daily live news show for the demolition and construction industry; and stick around for the after-show chat: The Craic.

Demolition dealt double blow

The UK demolition industry faces the prospect of being caught in a legislative pincer movement as the embodied carbon lobby continues to gather both pace and momentum.

And those within the demolition fraternity that dismissed embodied carbon concerns as a flash in the pan may yet rue the day they failed to heed the warnings all around them.

According to a report in the revered and respected Architects Journal, Labour peer Baroness Andrews has tabled an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that is currently going through Parliament. Submitted on behalf of The Victorian Society, that amendment could make it mandatory for ALL demolitions to require planning permission.

Victorian Society director Joe O’Donnell said many historic buildings had been flattened through permitted development and that, in any case, demolition of any building was problematic during a climate and housing emergency.

“In the middle of both climate and housing emergencies we must focus on re-using our existing buildings, rather than allowing them to be demolished without local communities having any say on what buildings stay or go,” O’Donnell says. “We hope the government will take this opportunity to support our amendment if it is serious about meeting its own legally binding net zero target we need to end the constant cycle of demolition and rebuild as soon as possible.”

Even as that bill amendment is under discussion, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is working on the second edition of its influential Professional Standard, RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment.

The updated methodology, designed to be used by more than 130,000 RICS members worldwide, was first developed in 2017.

This updated version of the RICS standard, will provide a consistent approach to calculating whole-life carbon emissions within the built environment. This new edition is more ambitious as it extends to cover all built assets and infrastructure, throughout the whole built environment life cycle. It is not clear if any of demolition trade bodies have been invited to contribute to the consultation.

According to the RICS: “only by accurately measuring and recording carbon emissions can the industry work to meet net zero goals to confront this planet-wide challenge and developing and deploying this methodology, is crucial for supporting the built environment sector and the world in their aim to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050”.

If you would like to know more about the embodied carbon threat to the UK demolition industry, please check out our dedicated and ongoing podcast series here.

The Break Fast Show #477

In today’s show: A Pennsylvania power station falls to the devastating power of controlled explosives; a US demolition company puts its faith in the Hyundai brand; and XCMG is on the final countdown for ConExpo 2023.

PLUS Komatsu highlights the features and benefits of its new PC17R-5 mini excavator.

Join us LIVE for the Break Fast Show – the only daily live news show for the demolition and construction industry; and stick around for the after-show chat: The Craic.

Turn on, tune in and take part.

The Break Fast Show #476

In today’s show: John Deere shows off its battery technology ahead of its ConExpo launch; Avant attachments will make other compact wheel loader owners green with envy; and CASE updates its grader product range.

PLUS we are going back in time with a JCB blast from the past.

Comment – Sun about to set on a glittering career

There is a very select group of individuals that transcend their chosen field of endeavour. Elvis Presley in the world of music. Muhammad Ali in the sport of boxing. Usain Bolt in athletics.

I would contend that there is a another name that could justifiably be added to that list: Howard Button in the field of demolition.

So when news broke that the National Federation of Demolition Contractors had begun the search to find his successor as Chief Executive Officer, it sent shockwaves through the entire demolition world.

The NFDC without Howard Button at the top table? It’s like a British coin without the Queen’s head upon it. Inevitable yet unthinkable.

No-one needs me to list Howard Button’s accomplishments and contributions to the demolition industry. Much of what we consider to be the norm within the sector today carries the Button hallmark. And besides, any such list would probably extend to Christmas and beyond.

Of course, when you stick around in a job for long enough, you are likely to draw detractors. And while Button is almost universally respected, recent years have seen a rise in the levels of criticism aimed in his general direction.

There are those that believe he is old-fashioned and set in his ways. But you could argue that he is merely a stickler for tradition.

It has been suggested that he deliberately avoids conflict. One might argue that this makes him the consummate diplomat, applying oil to troubled waters to placate the warring factions.

And there are those that believe he is driven by a desire to bask in the spotlight. But maybe he attends meetings, pursues initiatives and just generally puts himself about with greater energy and consistency than the various presidents and officers that came and went during his time as CEO.

There have been times when I personally believe he could have acted differently. But the deafening silence over the Didcot Disaster, the spate of scaffold collapses involving NFDC member companies, and the Competition and Markets Authority investigation into bid-rigging within the sector came not from cowardice but from an inability to comprehend the very notion of the wrongdoing of a member company. In a weird way, that is admirable and to his credit.

In another more media-friendly and public-facing industry, Howard Button would surely have seen his tireless work on behalf of the demolition sector rewarded with a national honour by now. Instead, he will probably have to make do with the respect and admiration of all those around the world that make up the Demolition Brotherhood.

There was a time when I considered Howard Button a friend. We worked closely together; we shared weekend and late-night phone calls as – together – we formulated initiatives like the original NFDC Demo Days and various sets of guidance notes.

But there is an unwritten credo that lies at the heart of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors: You are either with them or you are against them. When I parted company with the Federation, it became very clear that I was no longer with them.

The phone calls and pleasantries ceased immediately. At the time, I was angry, hurt and frustrated. From a business perspective, leaving the NFDC was among the best career moves of my life. The loss of a friendship, however, was a rather more difficult and bitter pill to swallow.

With the benefit of hindsight and a wisdom granted by the passage of time, I can now see that Howard was right. His commitment was – and still is – to the NFDC. That commitment was and remains single-minded and laser focussed. Not even friendships can be allowed to stand in the way.

And so at some point in the next year or so, Howard Button will pass the NFDC reins to his successor, I sincerely hope he takes the opportunity to ease back and to take it easy at long last. He has more than earned the rest.

The challenge now facing the Federation is finding someone capable of filling Howard Button’s shoes. It will not be easy. He has set the bar incredibly high.

And even if his replacement is as driven, tireless, committed and dedicated to his duties, they will find themselves working in the shadow of a giant of the industry. That shadow is long and it is dark; and very little can grow under those conditions.

That is why those that followed after Elvis Presley into the field of rock n roll are just pale imitations. That is why, decades after he belatedly hung up his gloves, Muhammad Ali is still known as The Greatest.

And that is why the National Federation of Demolition Contractors won’t be quite the same without Howard Button at the tiller.

The Break Fast Show #475

In today’s show: XCMG is planning to take ConExpo by force; the sound of silence – The Montabert attachments that aren’t breakers; and Bell showcases its Reman programme.

PLUS Hyundai, Doosan and Develon are ready for ConExpo 2023.

The Break Fast Show #474

In today’s show: The National Federation of Demolition Contractors has begun the search for a new CEO; Caterpillar caught on camera; can we get a drum roll for Allu?; and how to get the best from your Wacker Neuson electric excavator.

PLUS in a race against the clock, can you figure out what this video is promoting?

NFDC seeks new CEO

The National Federation of Demolition Contractors has announced that it is seeking a new chief executive officer for both the NFDC and for the National Demolition Training Group.

DemolitionNews understands that the new CEO will work alongside incumbent CEO Howard Button to ensure a smooth handover and succession.

According to an advertisement posted on both the NFDC website and on the LinkedIn social media platform, the new CEO will be “responsible for overall management of NFDC and NDTG. The role involves a high level of responsibility, requiring pivotal decision making and strategic thinking.”

The successful candidate will represent the Federation and demolition industry at events and on working groups, working closely with the boards and leadership teams of NFDC and NDTG to provide strong leadership to both organisations.

There is currently no indication of timescales or how long the NFDC expects Howard Button to work alongside the new appointee.

Button’s shoes will be difficult to fill. He has been the public face of the NFDC for around two decades, steering the Federation ship through the choppy waters of recession, ousted presidents and the ongoing investigation into bid rigging within the UK demolition industry that named 10 companies; all of them NFDC members at the time of the alleged offences.

We will bring you more news as we get it.

The Break Fast Show #473

In today’s show: The dawning of the age of Develon; a UK Hyundai customer goes into the red; and we chart the fall of the Champlain Bridge.

PLUS – Construction’s mega-machine compared by size.

Join us LIVE for the Break Fast Show – the only daily live news show for the demolition and construction industry; and stick around for the after-show chat: The Craic.

Turn on, tune in and take part.

Calling upon the Home Secretary

DemolitionNews has written to Home Secretary Suella Braverman to press her to consider a public inquiry over the failure of an investigation into the Didcot Disaster to deliver any meaningful results over an agonising seven year period.

The letter to Suella Braverman reads:

On 23 February 2016, the boiler house at the Didcot A Power Station collapsed during demolition, killing four men.

The seventh anniversary has just passed and yet the investigation remains ongoing with Thames Valley Police and the Health and Safety Executive.

Four families have had no explanation nor closure; and the demolition industry has received no feedback on the precise cause of the collapse. This lack of information is putting other lives at risk.

Can I please ask you to launch a public inquiry into why Thames Valley Police has been dragging its heels for seven years.

Given that Braverman is currently struggling to find a safe constituency seat to retain her position in parliament, the fact that the subject of Brexit refuses to leaver er desk, and the fact that migrants are still arriving illegally on UK shores in their droves under her watch, I do not expect a positive or even timely response.

However, as last week’s commemorative LiveStream proved, the families of those four men are suffering torment to this day; and frustration and anger among demolition professionals remains as strong today as it was the day of the collapse.

We will keep you posted.