The Rush Contractors Group was founded by Ron Hardie, Joe Miller and Rus Peters, and started in 1991 as Rush Contracting providing services in preloading, slope stabilization and excavation. Since then, we have become a staple to the construction industry in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
In 2001, we established Rapid Impact Compactors (RIC), a specialized contractor providing rapid impact compaction. Rapid impact compaction is a variant of dynamic compaction that uses different and specialized equipment. We were the first in North America with rapid impact compaction machinery imported from England.
In 2008, we established Rapid Impact Piers (RIP), a specialized ground improvement contractor. At RIP we focused in providing impact Pier technology licensed from Geopier in British Columbia.
Rush Contracting, Rapid Impact Compactors (RIC) and Rapid Impact Piers (RIP) are now unified under The Rush Contractors Group Brand.
Rapid Rise for Delta Firm | Tracks & Treads. Published 1996.
Specializing in site prep and preload work, Rush Contracting has quickly gained prominence in the Lower Mainland construction scene.
Quickly becoming a major player in site preparation and preload work in BC’s Lower Mainland is Delta-based Rush Contracting.
Since starting the firm in 1991, company principals Ron Hardie, Rus Peters and Joe Miller have seen their business nearly double each year. Interestingly, despite that achievement, none of the three partners projects the driven, aggressive operating style that might be expected in a young, rapidly rising firm. “We just don’t like to turn down work,” says Miller.
The three partners came together through an unpredicted chain of events. Rush Contracting was originally owned by Rus Peters, who hired out a D3 tractor. He met and became friends with Miller and Hardie on a construction site in the early 1990s; both were in supervisory positions with a large construction company involved in the project.
Shortly afterwards, as it turned out, Miller left the firm, followed soon after by Hardie, and the three friends decided to throw their lot together in a revamped Rush Contracting.
Without capital to augment the D3, they got going via rentals and by employing subcontractors with their own machines. Grant Cunningham, the first sub hired, still works regularly for the firm, but with its success, Rush now primarily puts its own machines to work.
During that initial year, Peters, Hardie and Miller formed some other definite ideas about long-term goals, as well as about how the company should operate to keep costs under control. One expense seen as unnecessary was the overhead involved in running an office and shop.
“With the kind of mobile communications equipment available now, our feeling was that we could run things very well from our pickups. We do maintenance and repairs on our machines in the field.”
Work during the first year mostly involved small projects. A breakthrough came in the fall of 1992 when they got a contract with PCI (Pacific Canadian Investments) for a residential subdivision at the south end of the Alex Fraser Bridge. With that job, the company purchased a Cat D6H and lease-purchased two dump trucks.
By mid 1993, the Cat and the dumper trucks were paid off and, with the business continuing to grow, they added a Cat 563 packer and a D4 tractor. For preload levelling work, the D3 and D4 were equipped with laser grade control systems.
“It’s a bit unusual in this area to put lasers on small Cats,” says Peters, “but we see it as helping us complete a job more quickly – and accurately – and that’s how you get and keep customers. We feel we’ve had a good return on our investment in both systems.”
In early 1994, the three added a new backhoe – and treated themselves to new pickups. Three more dump trucks were added in April. By now the company owned a excavator, three Cats, a packer, and five trucks.
”Using rental machines obviously paid off to get us going, but for the long term we knew we had to have our own equipment,” says Miller. ”Our basic approach now is to buy equipment and, like a lot of companies, use rentals to augment what we have on a short-term basis only. If you have the work to support it, owning your equipment is better from a business point of view. Our objective is to own all of our equipment.”
In October 1994, Rush won another breakthrough contract with Walter SCI on the wastewater treatment upgrade project on Annacis Island in Delta, BC. Walter SCI is a large international company made up of the SCI group in Alberta, and Walter of Germany. The company works on projects around the world and has completed a number of construction jobs in BC, including the Cassiar Connector.
With the new contract in hand, Hardie, Peters, and Miller purchased another excavator, a Cat 980C loader, and a sand pit in Delta. These acquisitions were followed by a new replacement excavator in mid 1995, and, in the fall of 1995, five new Cat D250E articulated trucks.
“We did keep one of our old dumpers, but the five D250Es were basically purchased to replace our existing truck fleet, rather than as additional units,” says Hardie. “We saw the Cat trucks at a demo Finning put on in Vancouver and obviously we liked what we saw. We were initially considering two different makes but the deal that we were offered was attractive enough that we saw it as an opportunity to turn over most of our old fleet and standardize with Cat. We weren’t upset about that at all because we run mostly Cat machines. They have been good, reliable machines and we have had a lot of success with them.”
Hardie says they were attached to the trucks’ comfort, speed and productivity. The 260-hp D250E has a heaped load capacity of 18 cubic yards. Top speed is 51 km/h in 5th gear (10 percent faster than the superseded D250D).
Because they remain opposed to taking on the cost of running their own shop, Finning product support was a major factor in the acquisition, he adds. ”This was important not only because we don’t have a shop but because we have no plans to go that way at this time. All of these trucks are on a Total PM (preventive maintenance) package and we opted for extended warranties. We want to work our machines, not worry about them or spend our time fixing them.”
Driver acceptance to the new units and initial field results have been excel lent, says Peters. ”They are very fast and comfortable and the drivers really like them. We put sideboards on them because we work mostly in river sand and top soil and they are fairly light products.”
Rush Contracting currently has 18 pieces of construction equipment and employs 13 people full-time. Says Hardie: “We are getting close to where we want to be in terms of size. I’m not saying we won’t grow more, but that has to be measured carefully and managed properly or you can grow right out of business. Lots of companies have found that out the hard way. At the same time, if the potential is there, you can’t be afraid to make the necessary moves either. Doing nothing is as bad as doing too much.”
Adds Miller: “The industry is really changing. Lots of our work now is day-by-day. The two-or three-year jobs of the past are getting scarce. That means contacts are very important and your reputation is even more so. We have gotten to know a lot of people, but that doesn’t help unless they are happy with your work and generally with the way you do business. That is what counts when the next project comes around.”
B.C. company discovers an attachment for the North American market Designated Import | Tracks & Treads. Published 2004.
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Being in the right place at the right time can prove to be invaluable in business. That was the case for one of Finning’s customers, Delta BC bused Rush Contracting, has found itself as the exclusive North American representative of a highly productive compacting attachment, which can be fitted to Caterpillar hydraulic excavators.
“We really came across this piece of equipment quite by accident,” explains Joe Miller, one of the three managing partners at Rush Contracting was meeting an engineer friend by the name of Brian Wilson for lunch one day, and we happened to pick up a British engineering magazine that included a photo of the hydraulic compactor Neither of us had seen anything like this before and Brian became quite intrigued with the concept. He did some research and came back a couple of months later and suggested that we take a closer look”
Armed with the limited amount of background information they could find on the attachment, which is officially called the Rapid Impact Compactor, or RIC, Miller and his two partners. Rus Peters and Ron Hardie, headed off to England. They met with the manufacturer. Ipswich-based ESP International Foundations, and visited U.K construction companies using the attachment. It didn’t take the Canadian trio long to conclude that there really was nothing similar to the RIC on the North American market and in April 2001, they signed the contract for what was the first IC to be delivered to North American soil.
As part of the deal. Miller asked ESP for a North American exclusive on the attachment, which the manufacturer was happy to provide, as it gave them knowledgeable representation in what could be a potentially huge new market. BSP had been successful in selling the attachment to other markets and has 30 to 35 of the RIC’s in operation worldwide, but they had not been able to crack the North American market, so this agreement looked like it could be beneficial to both parties.
“We really feel that we have developed a great working relationship with Rush Contracting” explains David Redhead, managing director of BSP in Ipswich, England. “It is a partnership that works for both sides. Rush knows they have an exclusive on the product in North America, and we know that our interests are being looked after properly in that marketplace.”
Prior to the deal with BSP, Rush Contracting was already very familiar with the market for soil compacting in the greater Vancouver area as they have specialized in site preparation and pre-load work since starting the company 13 years ago. Pre-load involves placing sand in areas where permanent structures will be built. The sand, which must be 1.5 times the weight of the finished structure, is moved onto the site and then positioned with articulating trucks, where it must remain for up to eight months. The weight of the sand compacts and consolidates the underlying soil. preventing differential settlements where one corner settles and the other does not
Adding the RIC to their equipment stable did not eliminate the company’s share of pre-load work. In fact, Miller says the acquisition of the attachment has actually brought them more work as the RIC complements their pre-load capabilities. “The RIC is not competing with our pre-load services be Cause for pre-load, we are trying to secure work that requires soil densification of more than 20 ft. For sites that require densification of less than 20 ft. the RIC is an ideal choice, as it is much more efficient than pre-loading. In the past, jobs requiring less compaction than 20 ft. could have been done by dropping an unspecified weight, or a stone column, from a crane to the ground, which is not overly cost effective, productive or accurate.”
– Rush Site Preparation puts 970F wheel loader to work.
“We wanted to expand beyond the greater Vancouver area, and we decided that mounting the RIC on a Caterpillar carrier would make the most sense for our market,” says Rush’s Joe Miller.
With the RIC, a 7.5 tonne weight is dropped from a controlled height of four feet onto a patented foot. The foot, which stays in contact with the ground to allow efficient and safe transfer of the energy, is hit at a rate of 40 to 60 blows per minute. A data acquisition system, which is essentially an onboard computer and printer that is mounted in the ab of the carrier machine, numbers each hole, and monitors every hit the weight makes, recording drop light, the number of blows, and the penetration per blow. The computer output includes the total energy input, total penetration, and final set per blow for each compaction point.
Miller points to a job in Whistler, BC s an example of how efficient and cost effective the RIC can be. This was our first big breakthrough with the RC in North America. It was in the summer of 2002. and it was used in the construction of a three-to-four story underground parking lot. Initially, the engineers for this project had planned on using a raft slab to eliminate the time required for pre-load. This method is extremely expensive as the raft slab is made from two feet of concrete, so we brought the RIC to the site and completed a test area. At that point, the engineers decided they could use the RIC for the compaction and then use regular footings for the structure. In total, we estimated that the developers saved $1.5 million by using the RIC.”
The Rapid Impact Compactor was brought over from England by Rush Contracting and has proven to be extremely cost-efficient for construction site preparation.
With several successes under their belt, and demand for the RIC increasing, Rush took delivery of a second compactor from HSP last November. The first RIC had been mounted on a nonCaterpillar machine, but for the new addition to the fleet, Rush went with a Car 345 excavator as the carrier
“We wanted to expand beyond the greater Vancouver area. and we decided that mounting the RIC on a Caterpillar carrier would make the most sense for our market,” explains Miller “Cat is very well represented throughout North America and has an outstanding reputation for the quality of their service We are comfortable taking our Cat machines into any area. knowing that we can obtain prompt service and technical help from any Cat dealer should we need it.”
Miller stresses that Rush Contracting does not sell the compactors, but only supplies the service “When a customer contracts the machine for a job we supply the carrier, the RIC, and the operator, and we charge by the square foot.”
Rush also looks after shipping the carrier and RIC to the job Sile, which is done with two trucks – one for the carrier and one for the attachment The two pieces can be assembled on site in about an hour with just five quick couplers, three pins and one electronic connection.
Right now, one of the two Rush RICs is working on a mining site in Sudbury, Ontario, while the other machine is on a long term job in Southern California. A third RIC which will also be coupled with a Cat 345. was delivered to Rush in July “We could get a call tomorrow to ship another machine to a job site anywhere in North America, and we wanted to be ready adds Miller. “We are currently attending geotechnical seminars where we can reach the engineers with our message, and it looks like in the fall, we will be doing some testing in the Alberta oilsands. There is really no limit to how far this business can grow.”
Long Term Partners
Rush Contracting has worked with Finning since the company was established in 1991, and their first piece of iron was a Caterpillar D3, which was acquired on a lease. Today, Rush operates a number of pieces of Cat equipment in addition to the two 345’s that are used exclusively with the RIC.
Other Cat equipments used in site preparation and pre-load work include:
3 – 330 BL excavators
1 – D6 track-type tractor
2 – 5 track-type tractors
1 – 04 track-type tractor
2 – CS563D compactors
1 – 970F wheel loader
Rush Contracting does not have a repair shop or any mechanics on staff, so in addition to running Cat equipment, they have a full service agreement with Finning for maintaining their Cat fleet.