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Home » Newsletter » Spring 2016 Issue 17

Rebuilding Following Tragedy

In the fall of 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated areas up and down the eastern United States causing $75 billion in damage, the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history. It has since been three years, but in areas like New Jersey that were hit the hardest, the aftereffects remain as houses continue to be rebuilt to this day. One of those houses — located in Middletown, New Jersey — was over a century old and its foundation was diminishing due to standing water. For Mike Hilton, whose in-laws owned the house, it wasn’t an option to sit back idly and let the house fall to the wayside. No, there was simply too much history in the house.

With the likelihood of his in-laws’ house foundation caving in from the water damage of Hurricane Sandy, Mike Hilton, owner and founder of Hilton Concrete, knew he would face several challenges, but if he could find the right equipment, the house could be saved. While the house, which was built in the 1800s, had a lot of history and charisma, it was more than that to Hilton’s wife’s family as generations of her family had been living there for decades.       

In 2005, Mike Hilton started his own business, named Hilton Concrete, primarily as a masonry company that also performs hardscape, drainage, and excavation work. Before establishing his own company, Hilton worked for his family’s business, experiencing all types of equipment throughout the years. For Hilton though, Takeuchi has been a staple in his equipment lineup from day one, which would prove to be beneficial when Hurricane Sandy hit. 

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Hilton Concrete was busy and did numerous foundation projects around the Middletown area, Hilton’s in-laws’ house included. With an old brick foundation, the house needed to be raised so that Hilton and his crew could demo the basement. The walls were 16 inches thick, and the brick was crisscrossed into a triple row, making it even more difficult to get through. Maneuvering below a house erected on stilts is hazardous in itself, but adding an excavator to the mix can lead to an even more precarious situation.

“We couldn’t demo the house from the outside the way the cribbing stacks were, so the only option was to dig around it using our Takeuchi TB138 excavator underneath the house to pick away at the foundation,” says Hilton. “Just the way the house was laid out, you couldn’t get in there with anything. Literally, if we had another excavator, we would not have been able to demo the house the way we did. It was a very hard area to work, in between cribbing and the wet environment with standing water on the floor.”

The job was scheduled to take four days, but Hilton finished in a day and a half. “We had never done anything like that, so we wanted to make sure we gave ourselves plenty of time,” says Hilton. “It was also the first time that we had ever used the Takeuchi machine, as they delivered it to us on the job. We didn’t know what it was capable of, but it was amazing on the job and truly nailed it.”

They were able to get acquainted with the TB138 rather quickly as they already had a Takeuchi machine in their lineup. The machine, a TL140 track loader that Hilton bought in 2007, had a similar feel to the TB138. Since he purchased his track loader nine years ago, the only component he needed to replace was his set of tracks. That dependability led Hilton to buy the TB138 and he is currently looking to add a third Takeuchi machine to his lineup.

“The TB138 gives you so many options and I cannot believe how much work we get done with it, especially in confined spaces” says Hilton. “There is no area that we can get in and out of faster and more efficient than with the TB138. It the best money that I have spent on my business since we started.”

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, but the disaster it left is taking days, months, and years to heal. Fortunately, there are contractors like Hilton Concrete that can rebuild a city. Slowly but surely, life is getting a sense of normalcy again. With the strength of Takeuchi behind him, Hilton knows he can go around, under, over, and through any future obstacles that stand in front of him.

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