Vocational trucks range in size and application, but few have the size and specialization as the concrete pumping truck, and perhaps no other company represents this highly-specialized area of expertise as well as Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping, which is conveniently headquartered in Denver, Colorado.
Started in 1983 by Jack Brundage and Dale Bone, Brundage-Bone began with three Schwing pumpers. All of their original equipment was mounted on Mack chassis’ (two being 28-meter pumpers and one 31-meter pumper). Since 1983, Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping has become the largest concrete pumping company in the world, reaching their largest fleet size in 2007 with over 950 pumps in 91 different locations. Like many companies, since the economic downturn, Brundage-Bone has downsized to a current fleet of approximately 700 trucks, of which 450 are in operation. But even with the downsizing, this massive company remains the biggest concrete pumping operation in the world.
Due to their size, Brundage-Bone’s fleet has a wide array of pump sizes, with their smallest unit being a 17-meter Schwing and the largest currently in the fleet being a 63-meter Putzmeister. Those who have kept up with recent news may have seen or heard about the two massive pumps that were sent to Japan in the wake of the earthquake and Fukushima nuclear power plant failure crisis. Only three of these pumps, huge 70-meter units, have been manufactured in the United States, and they are a set-up legal only in California and Alabama. One of the two pumps sent to Japan was in the Brundage-Bone fleet until 2009, when it was sold due to the economy.
With operations in 17 states and with their large fleet size, Brundage-Bone has operated on some interesting and unusual projects, once even pumping onto a bridge over the Mississippi River off of a barge. Other memorable jobs for the company include the Denver International Airport (1990-1993), the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C. located at 13th and Pennsylvania Ave. (1993-1995), as well as Coors Field, Invesco Field, and the Pepsi Center. These are only a small handful of examples of cool jobs that Brundage-Bone has worked on, and tasks such as pumping over the tops of houses or onto overpasses above from below, is no challenge for them.
Brundage-Bone’s business extends beyond solely operating pumping trucks, however, selling Putzmeister and Schwing parts to other companies, in addition to operating Putzmeister conveyor belts, laser screeds (a concrete paving and leveling machine), and buying and selling all of the equipment, as well.
Operating a concrete pumper is not for the faint of heart. Operators must be willing to do their job in temperatures well below zero and over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, they must be capable of standing in a single spot for hours on end while controlling booms in excess of 100 feet with a remote control, and always make sure other workers aren’t hurt or in danger. They must also assure that the pump is working properly, as well.
Once a driver arrives on a site, he must meet with the superintendent to find out where to set-up. The operator must then check for safety hazards such as trees, power lines and underground trenching. Once the operator has checked for hazards, he can then set-up the pumper’s outriggers and pads and then prime the boom. After priming the boom, it can then be positioned and pouring can begin (and some pours can last over 24 hours). Once the pour is completed, the operator must clean the boom, either by sucking a sponge through the unit or via a water wash. After the boom has been cleaned, the driver must then move the truck to a washing area and clean the hopper. After all that, the operator can finally head back home.
Though Brundage-Bone’s pumping trucks come in a wide variety of sizes, the one pictured here is their largest unit currently in operation. Mounted on a seven-axle Mack MR chassis (three steer axles, three drive axles and a lift axle), the truck sits on a massive 462-inch wheelbase and has an overall vehicle length just under 54 feet long. Power for the truck comes from a 427 horsepower Mack engine routed to an 18-speed T318 transmission and 5.02 rear-ends. The pumping equipment itself is a Schwing unit with a 2525-6 pump kit rated at 213 yards-per-hour of pumping power. The whole unit weighs in at a heavy 115,000-pound operating and travelling weight. The truck itself is so large that, when moving on public roads, it must be flagged with oversized load signs. Many of Brundage-Bone’s other pumping trucks also utilize Mack componentry, as well as both 9- and 18-speed transmissions, with only three automatic transmissions in the entire Denver fleet.
10-4 Magazine would like to thank Keith Joiner, Manager of the Denver fleet, for making available their trucks, as well as his and the company’s time for this article. Keith has been with the company since 1984, starting at their Dallas, Texas facility. After Dallas, Keith moved with Brundage-Bone to Washington D.C. in 1986. Following the D.C. move, Keith worked at the Denver operation during the DIA construction project. After the Denver International Airport job, Keith returned to Washington for the Federal Triangle Project (the Ronald Reagan Building) from 1993-1995. Returning to Denver until 2001, Keith was then pivotal in the opening and expansion of the Brundage-Bone California operations, beginning in Bakersfield, and expanding to 160 pumps between Fresno and San Diego. Since 2006, Keith has been back in Denver, managing their operations.
Keith, however, wanted to strongly note that the most important people at Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping are their operators. Taking pride in their work, the Brundage-Bone operators are, in Keith’s words, “the most important people we have. They are the heart and soul of the company. Without them there is no company.” Having spent time with them at the photo shoot, Brundage-Bone truly is a family-style operation that is both friendly and professional.
Unfortunately, like so many other industries, concrete pumping has seen a serious reduction in profitability since the beginning of the economic recession, largely due to a surplus of equipment on the market and rates 25 to 35 percent lower than where they ought to be. If, however, Brundage-Bone’s track record is any indication of their future success, then we’re pretty sure they will weather this current economic storm and arrive stronger and ready for the work at the other end of the tunnel.
I’d like to thank Brundage-Bone for their cooperation and work in getting the trucks prepared for a shoot and to do the interview with me. Brundage-Bone has, through hard work and quality service, rightfully earned its place as the largest concrete pumping company on earth.