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Batter up

Rental store steps to the plate

By David Wolff

Art Purdy and Mike Harrell

Project manager Arthur Purdy (left) and K&K Supply sales rep Mike Harrell, with Busch Stadium in the background.

The scene at Ballpark Village had all the urgency of a World Series game seven. Contractors from electricians to plumbers to carpenters hustled about, feverishly focused on completing their work before the Opening Day 2014 deadline.

The project is a $650 million development adjacent to Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. The downtown St. Louis, Mo. site covers 10 acres and seven city blocks. It includes 250,000 square feet of retail shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as 400 residential units, 450,000 square feet of office space and 2,000 parking spaces. As its name suggests, Ballpark Village is designed to be an extension of the stadium and an innovative approach to creating a neighborhood. 

Ahal Hardscapes is one of the many subcontractors. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Musselman & Hall Contractors, Kansas City, the company’s St. Louis concrete division is headed by Keith Ahal.

Ballpark Village

Ballpark Village is a $650 million development adjacent to Busch Stadium.

The project manager is Arthur Purdy and the project superintendent is Kevin Ross. At Ballpark Village, the project involves a two-color polished finish on two poured concrete floors of the Cardinal Nation bar. The polish chemically reacts with the concrete to lock in color, while the mechanical application closes the surface to keep out contaminants. The finished surfaces repel water and oil and are dust-proof. Polished concrete floors are superior to limited-life coatings, because this finish doesn’t require replacement, recoating or waxing. The non-toxic, non-flammable and odorless application is environmentally- friendly. Surface care is user-friendly; routine cleaning will maintain luster.

Purdy explains, “When finished, polished concrete is nearly maintenance-free. After time, vinyl and tile wear out and must be replaced. With polished concrete, the more it is used the shinier it gets. Basically, just clean it with a dust mop or clean water. The surface is very durable, and doesn’t peel or crack. These floors also have a lot of reflectivity. I’ve seen instances where lighting can be reduced by one-half, and that’s another cost savings.”

Depend on rental store
Ahal has experienced crews that understand the complexities of each job, and they are supported by a good-sized fleet of equipment and polishing machines. However, when business increases and jobs stack up, there is a need for extra equipment. Enter K & K Supply in nearby Fenton, Mo. 

“This rental store has been excellent getting us additional machines,” Purdy says. “I give my sales rep, Mike Harrell, a call and he gets me what I need right now. If something breaks down and we’re on our own, we’re at a standstill if we don’t have it on hand. With rental, I can call Mike and he’s there as soon as possible and we continue working. Also, there is another
benefit to rental because we don’t have to take care of the maintenance. K & K does it all. If we run short on anything, they have it.”

Ahal has been working with K & K for quite a while.

“What I want from a rental house is what I get from K & K Supply,” Purdy says. “They don’t deal just with rental; they have every product associated with rental equipment.”

Support is just as critical.

“If something breaks down, I need a replacement immediately,” Purdy says, “and K & K never lets me down. There have been instances when they have been here in minutes. We can bring equipment back to them and get it replaced. With K & K, all I have to do is call.”

Industry knowledge
Purdy has been in the industry for many years and has extensive knowledge of a variety of projects and techniques. So does Harrell, and the two often join forces to solve a problem.

“Every application is different,” Purdy says. “Floors are different, thicknesses and hardness are
different. When I decide how to proceed on a polishing project, I use a customized scratch test kit. I take pieces of metal that look like giant toothpicks and scratch the concrete. They are all color-coded, so once I get a scratch in the concrete I look at what color did that. Now I know what diamonds to start with. For example, on this project we polished one floor that was ‘slab on grade,’ while the floor above was ‘slab on deck.’

Husqvarna PG820We want the same result, but use a different process for each floor. An inexperienced contractor might not have success getting the results he wants, but that’s because he doesn’t know he’s using the wrong diamonds. They can be soft, medium or hard. We use thousands of dollars of supplies, so the last thing we want to do is use the wrong ones.”

At Ballpark Village, Ahal rents a large Husqvarna PG 820 machine and uses some of its own hand polishing machines. Harrell suggested a small, walk-behind machine for wall edges, which will increase dramatically the pace that the crew can complete wall lines.

“A good rental store rep sees what we’re doing and comes up with alternatives,” Purdy says. “Mike brings out machines he thinks will work better for us, and we try them. If they work, we’ll rent from K & K.”

Harrell adds, “Our industry knowledge is second to none. It’s one thing to say we have equipment available to rent, but quite another to demonstrate how to use it in a variety of applications. We take the time to learn. We listen to what our customers are telling us. The market is constantly evolving, and the shift today is to polished concrete. Part of our value-added services is reacting to customer needs. We need to be in the field right there with them with the latest trends. We have several customers who wouldn’t have been able to go after certain jobs if we didn’t have the equipment or knowledge. We get them the machines when they need them and inventory the supplies.”

Originally published in the March/April 2014 issue of Pro Contractor Rentals. Copyright 2014 Direct Business Media.


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