UK Treasury to consult on Landfill Tax…

The UK Treasury has issued a new consultation document to look at the definition of waste under its Landfill Tax scheme.

Less than a week after the UK Government fixed the annual price escalator on its Landfill Tax scheme at £8 per annum until 2013, the Treasury has issued a consultation document to look at the definition of what constitutes waste under the scheme. The document, entitled Modernising landfill tax legislation, cites last year’s Waste Recycling Group vs. HM Revenue & Customs case as a key driver for this change.

Full details of the story from online waste and recycling information portal MRW can be found here.

Demolition man to fight UK tax change…

A UK demolition contractor has hit out at tax changes that could cost him hundreds of thousands of pounds.

David Lee yesterday began examining ways to move offshore in the wake of the chancellor’s imposition of a 50 per cent tax rate for high earners, writes the Financial Times’ Bob Sherwood. The founder and managing director of Lee Demolition, one of the UK’s largest demolition groups, which turns over £14m a year, is looking at a personal tax increase of “at least a couple of hundred grand”. Just two of his companies generated profits well in excess of £2m last year, he said.

“It’s just too much,” he told the FT. “We are not going to stand for it. We will have to look at ways of getting around it. We just think it is unbelievable that [the chancellor] can charge 50 per cent tax.”

Read the full story here.

Demolishing Ancient Egypt….in Chicago…

Demolition work is underway to take down the fire-ravaged Empress Casino in Chicago.

(Liz Wilkinson Allen/Staff Photographer)
(Liz Wilkinson Allen/Staff Photographer)
It’s not every day that you see a Caterpillar excavator wrestling a” ancient Egyptian” statue to the floor…unless you live in Chicago, apparently.

Demolition crews have begun tearing down the pavilion building, part of Chicago’s Empress Casino, that was destroyed in a recent fire. The casino, which sits on barges in the Des Plaines River and was untouched by the fire, is expected to reopen in late June. But it will take anywhere from a year or more to rebuild the pavilion building that houses restaurants and shops.

The full story of the project can be found here while striking photos from the project can be viewed here.

NDA elects news president…

Raymond Passeno has been named as president of the US’ National Demolition Association.

The National Demolition Association has elected Raymond Passeno president of the association. He presently is VP of Bierlein Companies, Inc., Midland, MI. Passeno has been active in nearly every committee and has served as VP, secretary and treasurer.

Further details can be found here.

Guest Blog – Surviving the recession…

Guest blogger Michael Gerard’s advice to help companies brave the recession.

Michael Gerard
Michael Gerard
The recent G20 summit may have succeeded in bringing a brief note of optimism to the financial situation with the pledge of $1.1 trillion to boost the international economy, but the long term prospects for many industries remain bleak for the foreseeable future. The construction and demolition sectors, and all the organisations allied to this marketplace, must brace themselves for tough times ahead, despite some encouraging signs such as the 0.9% rise in house prices last month (March). The simple fact remains that contractors will need to continue to operate at maximum efficiency to maintain healthy profit margins.
For some “on-the-ball” companies, this will mean business as usual – but those companies lulled into a false sense of security (and lax business practices) during the last 15 years of economic growth will need to seriously reconsider their ways of doing business. By its very nature, our economy will always will be cyclical; the only uncertainty being the length and depth of the peaks and troughs of a cycle. This means that the best way to grow and thrive in any environment is to adopt best practice techniques – regardless of the prevailing economic climate. You may not need to do things very differently, but you will need to do them better.

Minimise the hazards
Now is not the time to take risks. As a business allied to the construction industry, your first priority is putting a clear contract in place. It sounds pretty obvious, but it is surprisingly common, even amongst companies responsible for delivering multi-million pound projects, for managers to be unclear on what their company has actually contracted for in terms of timing, payment periods, rights of set-off, insurances and damages.
It is also crucial to ensure that the main terms and conditions of contract are agreed and clearly understood, and that the documents referred to are in fact those that the agreed price was based on. I would advise using an industry standard form of contract as these are not only industry tested, but also make it much easier to be alerted to changes such as contractual set-off and ‘time is of the essence’ clauses.

Money makes the world go round
Smaller businesses are particularly vulnerable to problems with cash flow – an issue that inevitably becomes more common as a recession deepens. Be alert to this threat and take measures to guard against tardy creditors.
• Ensure quicker payment by offering attractive incentives such as discounts for early settlement.
• Always run a credit check on the client before entering into a contract. If the client is a regular customer, carry out periodic credit checks and never trade above the credit limit that you feel is appropriate.
• Consider introducing special terms in the contract such as retention of title (commonly referred to in legal circles as the Romalpa clause), and interest on late payment.
It is the money in the bank that determines a company’s success, so no matter how attractive a potential contract may look in regards to turnover or profit, make sure that the payment terms are clear and binding: these are critical in the company’s trading position and financial solvency.
If you are experiencing major problems in securing payment, use self-help remedies such as the traditional ‘letter before action’ and statutory demands where the sum is not disputed before taking the more complex, and expensive, legal route.
Where the debtor disputes the sum claimed, there is the option of legal action, but court disputes can be long and expensive and there is no guarantee that your debtor will still be trading by the time of the hearing. Therefore, consider including other forms of dispute resolution in your terms like adjudication, the decision of which can be made binding.

Look long term
You may be most concerned with survival in the here and now, but it pays to look to the future, whatever the economic conditions. Even in more prosperous times it pays to aim for breadth and depth in your client portfolio; working exclusively with one client or within one specific sector makes your company very vulnerable. If possible, work with a range of clients in different industries, to maintain your independence and reduce risk.
You may have created a niche market for your business, but if that market collapses, your reputation is unlikely to save you, so consider diversifying. Just because you have always done something a specific way or worked within a particular marketplace doesn’t mean that is the way that it always has to be. Take advantage of lean times to diversify: think out of the box and find other markets for your product or service.

Invest for success
It’s natural – and sensible – to look for areas where savings can be made, but beware of false economy. By all means review company expenditure and cut down on the luxuries, but remember that the easy option is not always the best. Marketing budgets are often the first to go. However, I would argue that in a recession, marketing is more important than ever: use your marketing budget to communicate with current and potential clients. If nobody knows about you, how can you expect to win their custom?
As spring brings finer weather, it also brings some hopes of recovery. However, it is important to remember that this is just the start of a very long journey. Conditions are still harsh for the construction industry, but the problems are not insurmountable. Stick to the principles and procedures of good practice, hold your nerve and review and build on what you are doing right. There is some light at the end of the current economic tunnel, so resist change for its own sake. Change what doesn’t work and do more of what does and your company will be in a strong position to survive – and maybe even thrive – throughout the recession.

Michael Gerard is a barrister, chartered builder, registered adjudicator and accredited expert in quantum and planning matters. He is also the Managing Director of Michael Gerard & Co (www.michael-gerard.co.uk), a company of chartered building consultants and quantity surveyors who provide a specialised service in the areas of construction law, quantum, programming, business recovery and insolvency support to the construction industry.

Radio silence as tower is felled…

A pair of videos show the last moments of an 85 metre high radio transmitter tower.

You can also read more about this project by clicking here.

Intermat 2009 looks awfully quiet…

Video footage from the Intermat exhibition in Paris suggest that the crowds have yet to arrive.

Once every three years, the construction and demolition equipment makers of the world descend upon Paris for the Intermat exhbition. Although not quite in the same league as Germany’s Bauma exhibition, Intermat does provide a useful barometer of industry confidence. During boom times, the show’s aisles are filled with chequebook-wielding equipment buyers; during a recession, you can almost hear the tumbleweed blowing through the corridors of the Paris-Nord exhibition centre.

Judging by this series of videos shot on the first three days of the show – which is currently in progress – things are looking pretty bleak out there.

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Taking work home with you…

A new garden sculpture allows demolition men to take their day job home.

I am sure that most of us have been accused of taking our work home with us (frankly, since I work almost entirely from home, I have very little choice) and that we’re all encouraged to leave the world of demolition behind in the evening and during the weekends….maybe spend a little time in the garden?

Well now you can spend time in your garden while still maintaining that destructive side of your nature with this “wrecking ball garden sculpture”.

Manufactured from military grade steel and a recycled WWII helmet and costing $330, the sculpture is said to have but one purpose: to leave no other sculpture standing; to leave no stone unturned to destroy all others.

If that sounds like a sensible way to spend your downtime, click here for further details.

Welcome to new sponsors…

Demolition News welcomes new sponsors and advertisers.

We are in the midst of an unprecedented recession; the UK budget is one of doom and gloom; and, across the world, advertising revenues are in free-fall. Except here at www.demolitionnews.com.

During the past few days, we have welcomed several new and high-profile new sponsors and advertisers, all of which are swimming against the recessionary tide and putting their money into the industry’s fastest-growing demolition news resource.

The new sponsors are:

  • Buckingham House (London) Ltd
  • BuilderScrap
  • Liebherr Rental
  • QuickSwitch

You can visit the sites of these new (and existing) sponsors by clicking on their logos to the left or right of this post.

We are delighted to welcome these new sponsors. This site relies upon the support of these advertisers and sponsors to allow us to continue to deliver the industry news and comment that you require.

Any other companies looking to become a sponsor can find further details by clicking here.

Training course focuses on fuel savings…

UK Caterpillar dealer launches new training programme designed to reduce fuel consumption.

UK Caterpillar dealer has today unveiled its industry first ‘Eco-Drive’ training programme, focused on delivering significant fuel cost savings of up to 10 – 15% to plant and equipment users across the UK. Open to all operators of excavators, wheel loaders, off-highway and articulated trucks, the one day instructor-led course is designed to highlight best practice operating techniques that influence and contribute to a more fuel efficient machine operation.

With a variety of courses available, some of which include hands-on participation where operators can practice new techniques and learn new skills, the programme will welcome its first participants on May 19th 2009 at Caterpillar’s state-of-the-art facility in Desford, Leicester.

Operators taking the practical participation module will also be able to see their impact on fuel consumption in real-time, with fuel burn and productivity results made available thanks to the use of onboard monitoring.

For every participant on the course, Finning trainers will develop a personal improvement action plan that is tailored to the skill sets of the individual, with an aim of developing them into a more fuel efficient operator. Prices for the course start from £150 per person for customer group training at the Caterpillar visitor centre in Desford, Leicester.

Commenting on the launch of Eco-Drive, John Vardy – Finning General Manager Product Support said: “It is not often as an industry you have the chance to make significant cost savings on a vast scale. The figures themselves are staggering, running into the millions of pounds of potential industry fuel savings in what are very challenging times.

“With fuel being one of the biggest variable costs any plant manager has to contend with, if your operator could save you up to 10% or even higher in fuel costs, for no loss of productivity, investing in their skills can deliver the biggest return on investment ever!

“The best thing for operators is that this is a real “can do” and people attending the course can literally see the impact of bad practice and the direct benefits of best practice, right in front of their eyes, thanks to the use of new remote monitoring technology.

Steve Platt – Finning Customer Account Development Manager added: “Our customers that have already taken part in our Eco–Drive pilot programmes have been amazed at how simple minor changes can help reduce fuel consumption. Ultimately with Eco-Drive everyone wins, including the environment.”

Talking about a two day pilot course Finning recently delivered to Tarmac Northern, Simon Phillips, Regional Director for Tarmac Northern said: “We have set ourselves a fuel burn reduction target by site. The last few days have confirmed that this is achievable. The operators are seeing that for themselves and will be able to take their learning’s back to site to deliver the results we have seen at the Eco- Drive training”

With a range of course dates already scheduled for group training at Caterpillar Desford, (May 19th to 21st, July 14th to 16th, September 22nd to 24th, November 24th to 26th) places on the courses for up to 20 people, will be arranged on a first come first served basis.

For customers interested in booking group training, customer site training, or special one to one site level training, simply contact the Training Department team at Finning on 01543 461526

For further information on the course content, dates and options contact Finning on 01543 461526 or visit www.finning.co.uk and click onto the ‘Careers and Training’ tab and select ‘Training and Development’ and the Eco-Drive link.