Historic Beech-Nut plant undergoes partial demolition

Historic Beech-Nut plant  undergoes partial demolition

Motorists traveling the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) in upstate New York will pass what once was the Beech-Nut Baby Food manufacturing plant in Canajoharie, NY. This famous facility opened in 1891 and was the home to what was (at the time) a national icon for a child-rearing population. A portion of that historic complex is now being demolished to make way for future development. At the time of this writing, 11 buildings located on the eastern half of this 29-acre property are in the process of being taken down and removed by Binghamton, NY, demolition contractor Gorick Construction Company, Inc.  

Gorick Construction Company project supervisor Jeremy Mahakian said their entire project is scheduled for 130 days and should be completed ahead of schedule. Mahakian explained that because of the kinds of materials found in these old structures, detailed oversight is critical. It is important to document each load and what they contain before they head to their destination. In this instance, the C&D “clean” materials are designated to go to Seneca Meadows Landfill, Seneca Falls, NY. He said asbestos abatement and universal waste removal was completed prior to starting the “clean” demolition. 

Currently, they are progressing well with their primary objectives. All of the work is done with environmental safety in mind. “We have a water truck on site that we use to clean the roads of dust that might come from the jobsite,” he said. “We are incorporating a Community Air Monitoring Plan (CAMP) on this site. We have four air monitors that are in operation any time we are doing demolition. Three are placed downwind of the site and one is upwind. Sal Maiorana, our safety officer, is in charge of the monitoring.”

Mahakian said they are controlling fugitive demolition dust with an HKD Blue V500-T dust control system. He said that Gorick recently acquired this unit and that it is doing a superior job on this project. It has a number of useful features that gives his crew continuous dust control and safer operation.


Recently, his five-person team faced a difficult challenge. They were to tear down and remove a 50,000-gallon steel tank located near the road that passes the plant. More importantly, it sat near the Canajoharie Creek. The tank originally was built in place inside a containment dike for added safety to the surroundings. That location made it difficult for the equipment operator to use a typical style of dismantling. 

Instead of using a two-man/two-machine crew to hold and dismantle the tank, a single shear operator, Ralph Hotaling, was tasked with taking down the structure single-handedly. “Ralph, our lead operator, did it without incident,” said Mahakian. “He took the entire tank down and removed it in a day and a half.”

Mahakian said they have a variety of demolition equipment onsite, which gives them whatever they need to do the job. Gorick’s new Volvo EC480EHR high-reach excavator outfitted with a standard digging boom and shear did much of the primary demolition. “Demolition began on April 15,” he said. “Last Friday he finished Building 63. Then he began Building 49. Now (April 26), he is working on Building 48. We are making good progress.

“Sorting and processing the steel and other materials begins right at the job site,” he said. “Ralph will work one bay at a time working from column line to column line. He cleans the C&D off, then the roof and then he cuts the steel and sets it where another operator can come to get it and take it to our stockpiling area for later loading. If there is other processing that needs to be done, it can be done at that time. It’s like an assembly line once you get started and everybody is working together.

“There’s not much concrete to be removed from this site,” he added. “The slab is staying, with everything being brought to slab grade. There are some random places where there is some concrete, like column bases, but most of the material is steel. Where there are concrete blocks, we sort those accordingly.

“We have two excavators with hydraulic shears on site. We also have a LaBounty UP30 universal processor on the 360 Komatsu,” he continued. “We have an apprentice operator on the CAT 289C Skid Steer that is used to move material and we have a Bateman Hydraulic Magnet on another excavator that we use for cleanup. That can come in very handy.”

He said one place that calls for extra care when dismantling is where they have been designated to leave an existing wall on an adjacent structure. Since the complex has seen a number of additions over the years, with one building added on or attached to an existing building, it becomes challenging to remove the unwanted structure and still leave the desired building intact. “Sometimes there can be some twisting when you shear through a beam or column, so our operators are especially careful to avoid any unwanted damage to the existing walls,” he said.

Mahakian noted that once this work is complete, the village is looking to sell or lease the property as part of a community improvement plan. He said he hopes they are successful in finding new owners or tenants for this property. “They deserve to have this turn out well for them,” he said. “It has been a long time coming.” 

For more information about Gorick Construction visit their website at gorickconstructioncoinc.com  or like them on Facebook.

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