In an economy which has seen the housing market collapse and many construction contractors pull up stakes, Posen Construction, Inc., has not just survived, but thrived.

The company’s formula for success is a diverse offering of in-house capabilities and the right work ethic.  It also includes having the right equipment.  Posen recently purchased a BOMAG BM 2000/60 cold planer milling machine, which they have used to expand their capabilities and increase their profit margins.

Diverse capabilities provide advantage
Based in Utica, Mich., Posen Construction is primarily a bridge building contractor.  While on vacation in Florida, Norm Zapczynski, who owns the company with his brother Kenneth, observed a need for more construction contractors.

At that time, the housing market was booming, and the counties couldn’t keep up with the infrastructure demands.  “The counties were rich with money,” said Mike Schook, vice president of Posen Construction.  “So many roads needed to be built, but they couldn’t get bidders to come to some of the jobs.”

Zapczynski saw an opportunity and decided to open a southern division in Estero, near Fort Myers.  Soon after the division opened in March of 2006, the move paid off, and Posen took on $110 million worth of business in the first two months of operation.

But the good times didn’t last as Florida’s once robust housing market was reduced to a fraction of its previous level.  Suddenly, the need for infrastructure was dramatically reduced, and contractors were slashing their prices or leaving the area altogether.

Despite the tough times, and despite their newcomer status, Posen’s southern division has continued to grow.  Schook says that’s because of the company’s strategy of staying diverse and maintaining a strong work ethic.

“We do everything in house,” said Schook of Posen’s capabilities.  “There isn’t a thing we won’t do.”  Although spending by county road agencies is down, the state of Florida is still spending money on interstate highways.  Posen also recycles secondary roads, build bridges, sets concrete forms and many other specialty jobs.

By having so many capabilities under one roof, Posen has an advantage over other contractors who have to subcontract certain jobs.  Posen can maintain higher profit margins because they don’t have to add ten percent to their bids to cover the additional cost of hiring subcontractors.  More importantly, it gives Posen more control over schedules.  “Because we don’t have to rely on subcontractors, we can control timing and stay on schedule,” Schook said.

Milling machine opens door to another market
Being diverse means having the right equipment.  Posen recently purchased the new BOMAG BM 2000/60 cold planer milling machine.  Featuring high horsepower-per-cutting-tooth ratios, the BM 2000/60 is designed to remove damaged or deteriorated asphalt surfaces from highways, streets and parking lots. Easily transportable and delivering high production, it offers a 79-inch cutting width to remove a half lane of road surface in one pass.

Along with the BM 2000/50, the BM 2000/60 is powered by fuel-efficient EPA Tier III compliant Deutz water-cooled diesel engines. The BM 2000/50 features a 469-horsepower engine that delivers a horsepower-per-cutting-tooth ratio of 2.8 and maximum working speed of 112 feet per minute (fpm). The 590-horsepower engine on the BM 2000/60 provides a horsepower-per-cutting-tooth ratio of 3.5 with a maximum working speed of 98 fpm. Both models are capable of milling depths up to 12.6 inches.

Schook saw the BM 2000/60 at the BOMAG factory in Boppard, Germany, and knew it would be good for Posen.  “I saw an opportunity to get into another market,” he said.  “We had enough work to pay for it.  That’s one less subcontractor we would have to hire.”

Of the milling machine’s many features, Schook appreciates its versatility.  In addition to removing deteriorated asphalt surfaces to be recycled and re-surfaced, the BM 2000/60 can be used to cut subgrade material.  With a maximum milling depth of over 12 inches, the BM 2000/60 can cut to the subgrade level, allowing Posen to adjust the road’s level to meet Department of Transportation specifications.

Posen is also considering using the BM 2000/60 on concrete bridges.  The machine’s precise capabilities will allow it to be used to plane high spots on concrete bridge decks, providing a smoother surface for vehicles.

The BM 2000/60 features an INTEL-PLANER automatic depth control system, which provides optimal consistency while working over changing grades and slopes.  INTEL-PLANER allows the operator to dial in the appropriate grade, and a microprocessor automatically cuts to the desired depth as it moves along the asphalt surface.

But Schook likes the transportability of the BM 2000/60 best.  “It’s the only machine that has a folding conveyor.  That’s fantastic for transport,” Schook said.  “That in itself is the biggest selling point.”

Posen purchased the BM 2000/60 from Nortrax Equipment Company-Southeast, a BOMAG distributor that covers south and central Florida.  Schook says that the service Posen receives from Nortrax is another key reason they buy BOMAG products.

In addition to the BM 2000/60, Posen also has a BOMAG MPH122 recycler/stabilizer, and several BOMAG single-drum rollers.

Future is bright
In addition to diversification, another key reason for Posen’s success is the company’s work ethic.  “A lot of jobs pay a bonus for getting done early,” said Schook.  “So our philosophy is to always get done early.”  By always earning that incentive, Posen is able to keep its profit margins high.

Schook added that the company culture is used to working fast.  In Michigan, where Posen is based, the season is shorter.  “We’re used to getting things done in nine months,” he said.

Posen is able to maintain that strong work ethic by hiring people who are equally dedicated to excellence and quality.  “We have a lot of talented people,” said Schook, adding that their workforce allows them to take on a variety of jobs.  “They’re not afraid to dive into anything.”

The excellence of Posen’s staff is reflected in the all-female crew – including a 21-year-old chief operator – that operates the BM 2000/60.

Though it is unusual for an all-woman crew to run such a large piece of equipment, Schook says it is the perfect arrangement.  “My philosophy is to pick the best person for the job,” he said, adding that women are often chosen to run Posen’s most expensive and complex machines.  “They pay attention and they’re conscious of what they’re doing.  They take pride in the machine and keep it spotless.”

Making the job of maintenance easier for the operating crew is the BM 2000/60’s quick-change cutting teeth and holders.  The crew also relies on the onboard computer system, complete with graphic LCD readout, to monitor and control the machine’s functions.  The computer informs the operator of the machine’s working condition and allows her to check the status of scheduled maintenance requirements with the push of a button.

The Posen philosophy of staying diversified and keeping a strong work ethic – as well as using versatile equipment like the BOMAG BM 2000/60 – has paid off so far, and Schook sees no reason it won’t continue.  “We still have a backlog of $100 million worth of work ahead of us,” he said.  “The future is looking bright.”

Learn more about Bomag and their complete line of road construction equipment at bomag.com