Sub’s not the answer
Sickau formed ProLine in 2000 and has grown it steadily into one of the largest concrete contractors in Western New York, employing anywhere from 35 - 50 people and tackling more than 200 projects per year.
“We probably pour more concrete than anyone in the area now — we do everything from bigger parking lots to slabs and foundations for new big-box stores,” said Sickau. “Because of major interest — and financial commitment — from medical-related companies, Buffalo is experiencing one of the largest periods of development the area has seen in a very long time. We’ve been fortunate to have had projects related to that growth. But the fact that we are equipped to even handle those kinds of projects has been a real plus for us.”
The nature of ProLIne’s business obviously demands an emphasis on concrete layout and a high degree of accuracy within that effort. Sickau said he’s taken a number of approaches to tackling those demands in the past, none of which was ideal.
“We’ve done everything from subcontracting the layout, to having a surveyor on retainer, to using a standard total station,” he said. “Contracting something out is rarely good from a financial standpoint, neither is paying a surveyor retainer fee simply to use him intermittently. As to the total station, it’s a great tool, but it can be complex to learn and operate. And, because it’s a two-man operation, there’s a margin of error with the guy at the rod end. In fact, I often had to call in a surveyor to re-check such work, so it was a costly approach for me to take.”
What happened in Vegas
A visit to World of Concrete changed all that for Sickau and Pro-Line. There, he saw a Topcon salesperson demonstrating the LN-100 Layout Navigator.
“I was blown away by how simple it was,” he said. “Everything from startup to overall operation seems to have been designed for ease of use. And it was genuinely affordable; I knew I had to have one of those.”
In true fashion, Sickau ordered two of the LN-100 units from the Buffalo branch of Admar Supply and was further impressed by the instrument’s power and simplicity, leading him to make some major changes in his operation.
“The fact that the LN-100 was so easy to use meant that I could confidently promote two of my men, Shane Torriere and Nate Grabar, to lead foremen and eliminate a surveyor I had on retainer.”