The end of a year and beginning of another typically calls for reflection. When looking back on 2023, there are many favorite projects that stand out to us. From facing unique challenges to working with an iconic brand, there were many noteworthy moments throughout the past year. Let’s take a look at some jobs that were distinct to our team, how they were completed, and what it took to finish them on time.
Project 1: Buc-ee’s — Athens, AL
Most know of the large, eye-catching gas stations with the ridiculously spacious – but incredibly clean – bathrooms. In case you aren’t familiar with this beaver-themed attraction, the chain is none other than Buc-ee’s. When Buc-ee’s came to an exit off I-65 in Athens, AL this year, we were stoked to have the opportunity to set their sign. Since this job was simply setting a sign, it wasn’t the most complex. But getting to work with a brand like Buc-ee’s was one monumental moment and by far one of our favorite projects.
Our crew went to work planning this job a few weeks ahead of time. After figuring out elements like height, reach, and access to the sign, we knew our 110-ton Tadano crane would be the perfect choice for this job. This crane had plenty of reach to meet the height requirements of the sign, since it needs to be seen from far away.
When Buc-ee’s came to an exit off I-65 in Athens, AL this year, we were stoked to set their sign.
Project 2: Residential Pool Setting — Owens Cross Roads, AL
A job that’s quite uncommon for a crane company is setting pools in a residential area. But when several homeowners were left in the lurch with holes dug on their property but no promise of setting their fiberglass pools, NexGen got the call to move things along.
While our team was able to install the pools, it was no easy feat. This job was a big team effort and took 12 hours from start to finish. The stumbling block with this project was the concrete our crane needed to sit on. Residential concrete is typically 4 inches thick, and we knew an 86,000-pound crane could easily split that in two. To solve this problem, we had to line the driveway with 8-foot by 4-foot steel plates in order to distribute weight properly.
Since it is lighter in weight and to avoid concrete damage, we chose to use our 80-ton Liebherr crane. Using this crane, we could lift the pools into the backyard from the driveway without breaking any concrete. It also had enough boom to reach out in the center of the road and pick up each pool. Yes, you read that right. The pools were lifted over each house to get them in the backyard! This job was definitely a unique experience and a favorite project for our team.
Project 3: CNC Lathe Move — Montgomery, AL
This job stands out because it was one of the largest machine moves to date for our Athens, Alabama branch. So, naturally, it was one of our favorite projects of the year. From the start, we knew using our Versa-Lift 40/60 forklift would be the best choice due to the machine’s weight. The CNC lathe machine weighed a whopping 33,000 pounds! The easier part of this job was pulling the machine off the truck, but things got dicey when it came to skating the machine inside. Skating refers to the horizontal movement of heavy objects across a flat surface without lifting them.
Most machine moves we encounter typically have a space with flat ground to simplify the skating process. However, due to the circumstances, it was necessary to skate this machine on uneven concrete. This made 33,000 pounds seem much heavier. In addition to machine skates, we used a combination of pump jacks, 3-ton hi-lows, and crow bars to move the machine in the proper direction. From start to finish, the project lasted 13 hours. Our crew of three was able to get the machine lifted, skated, and set all within 6 hours. The extra time was spent waiting on technicians installing various parts before our team could move on to the next piece. Working with other teams is typical for us on the job.
From the start, we knew using our Versa-Lift 40/60 forklift would be the best choice.
Project 4: Wood Chipper Removal — Madison, AL
Our final favorite project highlight is a wood chipper removal. This job was unique because the chipper had burnt into the ground and our job was to remove what was left. Because of these circumstances, the weight of the machine before burning was left up to guess. This made it difficult to choose which crane to use.
Our field supervisor was sent to survey this job and assess the best course of action. The issue was the machine couldn’t move. After looking it over, there were no good points where a crane could securely attach. Our solution after further inspection was to fasten some wire rope chokers in the shape of a basket and attempt to lift it that way. However, the problem with weight still remained.
We decided to set our 110-ton Tadano crane on this job and thought from the closest radius it could lift 60,000 pounds. Our team hooked the crane to the machine and gave it a shot. No luck. In this moment, we knew we needed to act quickly in order to keep progress moving forward. Plus, there was a long-haul truck on its way to pick up the crane.
We made the executive decision to send out our 80-ton Liebherr as a back-up to make this project a two-crane lift. Once we hooked up the 80-ton to the wood chipper, both cranes were able to successfully lift the machine. It actually weighed a total of 72,000 pounds! This job was a perfect example of thinking quickly and putting our minds together in order to finish on time.
While these few favorite projects only showcase a small piece of the year, 2023 definitely held many successes and monumental moments. And even through setbacks and delays, our team persevered. As a company, we are excited to see what 2024 will bring and look forward to more stand-out projects next year!