MOOvin' & Groovin' Pt. 3
Four men, three GOMACO pavers, two road graders... one prosperous company.
Koster Company, based out of Visalia, California, has made a business of specializing in dairy floors since 1990. "We're not like a contractor and we're not really like a sub either," John Koster, owner of Koster Company, explained. "We're just the grading and placing service. Basically, we're facilitating the use of the pavers to help dairy contractors lay down a lot more concrete than they normally do."
The dairy opportunity was presented by a local ready-mix supplier. Five or six dairy contractors in the area had the finishing crews but no pavers. Koster had the opposite problem. "It just started this way. The first contractor wanted to use his finishing crew," Koster said. "It evolved that they had the manpower and we had the machine."
Koster's paving machine inventory consists of two Commander IIIs and a GP-2600. "The sizes are nice because there's a lot of concrete to pour at one given width," said Koster. "We can bring the 2600 in and do the wide paving first and then bring the Commander III in for the smaller widths."
The GP-2600 is used to pave the drives and feed lanes. The slab is usually 5.49 to 7.32m (18 to 24 ft) wide and 152mm (six inches) thick.
The cow walks or cow traffic areas are poured 3.66 to 4.57m (12 to 15 ft) wide and 102mm (four inches) thick with a 203mm (eight inch) curb using the Commander III. To provide traction for the cattle, a sled attached to the back of the paver forms grooves into the slab about every 152mm (six inches).
"It works out great because we don't have to do a lot of work on the machines," Koster said. "We can just deliver them to the job and pour with them the next day."
All of their paving is inverted. "It's like a big valley gutter," Koster explained. The floors are poured using either a basic five or 5.5 sack mix with fiber added.
"The final product has two vertical curbs and that curb sits right where the 6.1m (20 ft) and 3.66m (12 ft) slab comes together. That 3.05m (10 ft) section is where the cow sticks her head through to eat but she's actually eating off the 6.1m (20 ft) slab where the feed is pushed up against that curb."
The invert is poured at a 0.5 percent grade so when it rains, water drains away from the feed and into a drain box.
A two-man crew works the pours. "All of our guys are operators," Koster said. "We usually have two guys operating and two other guys running chute. The chute guys, on the off days, are responsible for setting the stringline. They all do a really nice job."
Typical projects are paved in less than a week with the bigger facilities taking three to four weeks to complete. Weekly production averages 1911m3 (2500 yd3) and sometimes climbs to 2676m3 (3500 yd3) on the larger dairy projects.
"I think that's real good production for a four man crew," Koster said. "I think it's very productive for that amount of people."
Special modifications on the GP-2600 have increased production. In approximately two hours, Koster can turn his 6.1m (20 ft) paver into 3.66m (12 ft) by adding a plate and making some adjustments.
"There are lots of situations that we run into where we only want to take our 2600 to the job. Then our Commander III can handle another job and we don't have to move two machines on and off the job," said Koster.
The GP-2600 was built to accommodate the special request. The tamper bar and auger were split at the 3.66m (12 ft) mark of the mold. The remaining 2.44m (eight foot) section of the mold is unbolted and raised. Extra holes were burned into the molds so they can be bolted together to provide extra support for each other.
While paving the scab-on slab, the raised section of the mold actually rides above the existing slab. A plate or wing is placed out in front of the paver to keep the concrete from spilling out onto the existing slab.
Since the new slab is poured lower than the existing slab, it acts as a side plate to help form the new edge.
"It saves all sorts of time. This way we don't have to take that 6.1m (20 ft) machine and shrink it down every time," he went on to explain. "The opposite works too. As soon as we've done the 3.96m (13 ft) section, in a couple of hours we're back to paving 6.1m (20 ft) wide.
"We try to do a lot with the pavers," Koster said. "The 2600 and Commander III's are just day-to-day work horses. We're really happy with them."
With enough work lined up to keep him busy until the end of the year, Koster doesn't see his company changing much. "For now, we're just going to keep on doing what we're doing," Koster said. "We're happy where we are and it's very manageable. There's not a tremendous amount of headaches for the amount of work we do."