It’s back to school for Franco Builders as the family-owned contractor takes on two major new high school projects in the Houston area – Alvin ISD (Independent School District) High School 4 and Fort Bend ISD High School 12. The 550,000-sq.-ft. Alvin ISD High School 4 will accommodate around 2,500 students, while the 485,000-sq.-ft. Fort Bend ISD High School 12 will provide space for 2,800.
Prior to the pandemic, both ISDs were experiencing unprecedented enrollment growth with at least 1,000 new students joining each year since 2014. The new schools will alleviate the overcrowding on existing campuses and help future-proof the districts as rapid residential development continues. They will incorporate academic, athletic and fine arts areas and are planned to open in time for the 2022-2023 school year.
Houston-based earthworks and underground utility specialist Franco Builders won the bid to prepare the building pads, as well as rebalance the soil across the entire campuses. “We have over a million truck yards of material to rebalance over each jobsite – it’s a massive undertaking,” says Jose Zuniga, who founded Franco Builders along with Manuel Franco in 2002.
Masters of Mud
The TA300’s reliability is what first made Franco Builders fall in love with the truck. Its heavy-duty axles are capable of bearing large loads, while the effective drivetrain gear reduction and differential locks help achieve optimal traction in poor working conditions. With all three axles in permanent (6x6) all-wheel drive, the unit maintains maximum traction while reducing driveline abuse and wheel spin for lower tire wear and fuel consumption.
“We get a lot of rain the in the Houston area and the off-road trucks have to fight through some pretty nasty terrain at times,” explains Jose. “The TA300 is a steady machine with good traction. It doesn’t struggle to get in and out of the slope areas so there’s no risk of it getting stuck in a hole.”
The hauler has also proven reliable. “The trucks have very little downtime and if they ever do have an issue, they are quick and easy to fix,” says Jose.
Built-in mechanisms make service interventions quick and safe to maximize uptime. All test points are located at ground level, with the fully tilting cab and electronically raised hood ensuring easy access.
The three-stage aspiration air filtration provides increased engine protection to lengthen maintenance intervals, while the hydraulic systems with magnetic suction filters guard against contamination and unscheduled maintenance. In addition, the transmission oil change interval of 4,000 hours helps keep the machine up and running longer.
Scheduled for Success
“Easton helps us track maintenance intervals and notifies us when it’s required,” says Jose. “They’ve been really good at making a schedule to avoid downtime and keep the project going. It’s extremely important that our fleets are updated, and we try to minimize unscheduled downtime on all projects because time is money. It’s all about working efficiently.”
Easton aims to give every customer the special treatment, which has allowed them to develop longstanding relationships, such as with Franco Builders. “We work together really well,” says Vic Palermo, Sales Representative at Easton Sales & Rentals. “If they need machines, I make sure we have the best ones for the job – and if they have a problem, our service manager will have a crew of technicians out there right away, or if not, the very next morning.”
“Everyone at the office and service department is really knowledgeable about the trucks,” Jose adds. “They can pinpoint any warning signs of potential problems that can come up. They’re always just a phone call away.”