Buffalo’s fifth season – construction – is kicking into high gear now that the weather has warmed up, and with it comes the buzz, rumble, whirr and hammering of all types of heavy equipment.
Dozens of contractors, municipal officials, construction workers and even do-it-yourselfers turned out Tuesday to take in and try out some of newest models of construction equipment at an annual spring expo in Tonawanda hosted by heavy-equipment supplier Admar Supply.
In between some relaxed schmoozing and an afternoon barbecue, attendees examined, climbed in and test-drove a variety of excavators, front-end loaders, skid steers and a host of other equipment from several manufacturers, who had representatives present to answer questions.
“It’s a great day for it. The equipment has not stopped moving, and people are really enjoying it,” said Laurie Robb, director of shared services for Admar and parent DiMarco Group of Rochester. “We bring vendors to them, and they can basically try everything out with the experts.”
The equipment ranged from the traditional to the more technologically sophisticated, including remote-controlled plate tampers and trench rollers that can work in confined spaces or holes so workers don’t have to clamber around dangerous spaces.
Prices range from $8,900 for a basic rough-terrain vehicle, to $20,000 for a Toro Dingo, a compact utility vehicle, to as much as $70,000 for a skid loader and $110,000 for a big excavator.
New products this year include some updated models of excavators, track loaders and skid steers. Among the “hottest” items are the rough-terrain vehicles, called RTVs, which resemble small Jeeps or a large, heavy-duty golf carts, and are often used on large properties or construction sites. The Buffalo Bills have them at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Robb said, and even homeowners with a lot of land might use them for “the back nine,” she said.
“It’s kind of what you would think people would use for off-roading, but they’re actually hardworking transport vehicles,” Robb said. “Those are very popular. A lot of people are using those these days.”
Admar sales staff circulated through the crowd, although Robb said the expo is less about generating actual sales than building exposure, and enabling the customers and vendors to make connections. “People expect to be able to come out and try out equipment,” Robb said. “They literally can get behind the wheel.”
Take Tracy Hirsch. The president of Trason Development Corp., a 35-year-old general contracting firm in Hamburg, is considering a new mini-excavator to add to the skid steers and other equipment his company already has. So he and Brandon Hirsch were testing one in the dirt behind Admar’s facility, along with other customers.
The contractor is currently engaged in a host of public works projects, including two contracts at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, two Buffalo city parks, an athletic training facility at the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, the Erie County Fire Training Academy, and a second-floor project at the county’s Rath Building in downtown Buffalo.
“You get to see new products, see what they’ve got for rent or for sale,” Hirsch said. “A lot of the reps come out from the companies like Kubota, so it gives you a little better idea of the products.”
Chris Trautman, who works for the Village of Kenmore on sewer and water projects, also looked at an excavator, as the municipality prepares to start a sewer dig on Elmwood Avenue on Wednesday that was left over from the winter. He said Kenmore workers were still busy “playing catch-up” and handling day-to-day field calls “because of the long winter.”
Founded in 1972, Admar says it is the largest independently owned construction equipment rental and sales company in New York and Pennsylvania, serving nine markets between the two states.
Admar has been hosting the expo for more than 15 years before the summer season. Robb said the company usually gets about 150 to 200 people at the annual event.
“It’s very hard for them to get a feel for what equipment might be new, what equipment they haven’t thought of renting or buying before,” she said. “They’re going to come out and get a feel for what they need for their job and their project.”