By Rick Zettler
The odds of Eric Wayne Incorporated, Davidson, N.C., winning a Golden Trowel at World of Concrete in Las Vegas were stacked against the company. The four-story office building and parking garage structures in downtown Charlotte included a host of challenges, making it difficult to obtain high flatness measurements.
First, there were six separate concrete pours of more than 10,000 square feet on three levels of the office building. "The number of pours and floors made this project a little unique for contending for a Golden Trowel Award," mentions Eric Wayne, president/CEO of Eric Wayne, Incorporated (EWI).
Pouring concrete on the unshored deck, the metal base was cambered by 2 inches over a 40-foot span. To ensure a flat floor required the proper amount of concrete to be loaded on the deck. "You can overload the deck and take it past flat or you can under load and leave a hump in it," adds Wayne. "It is what makes this one of the most difficult of all the Golden Trowel categories."
In the end, EWI's crew and equipment finished an incredibly smooth unshored deck. Independent verification of surface flatness using the F-Number (Face Floor Profile Numbering) System came back with an FF 55.5 measurement. "The average F-Number for an unshored deck today is 25," explains Jeff Rogers, director of engineering for The Face Companies and a judge for selecting Golden Trowel recipients.
Achieving a measurement of more than twice as flat as comparable projects, EWI took home the Golden Trowel for the Unshored Metal Deck -- 95 ft Wide category for the 68,810 square foot office building. The company just beat out a Silver Trowel recipient from Brazil. "This award represents the best in the world in 2008 for this category," adds Rogers. "The 95-foot-wide placement makes this result even more impressive, as it is harder to achieve higher numbers with large pours."
While EWI has been in business since 2004, President/CEO Eric Wayne has been in the construction and concrete industries for 30 years. Prior to starting EWI, Wayne owned another concrete company for nearly 20 years. He knows what it takes to successfully complete a project: dedicated employees, reliable equipment and a commitment to excellence from all companies involved in the project.
Although EWI won the Golden Trowel, Wayne is quick to share the credit with the other parties involved. "It took a series of different companies to win this award -- from the general contractor, Rogers Builders, to the contractors pumping the lightweight aggregate concrete to the deck," mentions Wayne. "In all, it was a five company team that pulled off this level of quality."
Equipment suppliers even pitched in to help ensure the concrete pours went smoothly. EWI purchased two new ride-on trowels from Wacker Neuson just prior to the Charlotte project, one specifically finishing the flatwork at the office building. Kevin Burris, metro jobsite specialist for Wacker Neuson, was at the office building jobsite for a majority of those nighttime concrete pours.
Burris reviewed the new trowels' features with the operators and ensured things went smoothly with the pour. "My 'day' started at 1 a.m. and finished around 1 p.m.," he says. "I wanted to be there to support EWI's crew in case I was needed."
"Finishing 10,000 square feet of concrete with new equipment can make you a little apprehensive," says Wayne. "But Kevin and Wacker Neuson were right there to help out and make sure everything went right with the trowels." In all, two CRT 48-35V and two CRT 36-25 model trowels were used on the 68,810 square foot structure.
In the past, EWI has used a variety of ride-on trowels, but today the company has begun to standardize on Wacker Neuson models. "My guys have been on every type of machine, and they love the Wacker Neuson trowel. It's easy to steer and operate and has less to go wrong with it," mentions Wayne.
Weighing 1,130 pounds, the new CRT 48-35V features a patent-pending torsion-assist steering system, which delivers an "easy-to-steer" capability for EWI's crew. By reducing the amount of force necessary to control trowel movement, the CRT 48-35V offers easy steering and operation as well as reduced operator fatigue. This new design requires 75 percent less force to operate than previous models. "Initially, some of the operators were fighting the trowel trying to steer it like they have to with their other machines," says Burris. "When I mentioned just using a couple of fingers on the handles, they got the hang of how easy the CRT 48-35V is to steer."
At up to 160 RPM, the Wacker Neuson CRT 48-35V also offers the highest blade speed in the mechanical drive ride-on trowel class, giving EWI's crew a high productivity machine. Featuring the right balance of speed and torque, the CRT 48-35V allows operators to pan and finish floors with one trowel. According to Wayne, the faster head speed allows the trowel to cover more floor area shorter period of time. "The unit pans well and we can quickly remove the pans to finish the floor. It's a good all-around machine for commercial applications."
The Golden Trowel Award
Recognized today as the ACI/ASTM/CSA standard for specification and measurement of concrete floor profiles, the F-Number System was developed by The Face Companies in the 1970s and 1980s. The company manufactures the Dipstick Profiler, the instrument used for measuring both the flatness (FF) and levelness (FL) of floors, pavements and bridges.
When the F-Number System was first developed, "the industry did not have a system to recognize contractors achieving high levels of flatness and levelness for concrete flatwork," says Rogers. Development of the F-Number System and its adoption for specification measurement gave the concrete industry a way to fairly and objectively compare projects completed worldwide.
In 1989, The Face Companies started the Golden Trowel Award program to recognize outstanding achievement in concrete flatwork. Today, the awards are handed out in conjunction with the concrete industry's flagship tradeshow, World of Concrete. Flatwork projects completed from September 1 through August 31 of the preceding year are considered for the current year's award program. A total of 94 contractors from 6 countries have claimed 226 Golden Trowels over the program's 20-year history.