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Then vs. Now: Construction Industry Changes

December 12, 2019

Filed Under: GeneralIndustry TrendsSafetySitework

As a company with more than 100 years of history behind us, Gray & Son has seen many changes in our industry and company. We wanted to share some of those changes, so we asked a couple of our team members, who have each been with us for more than 45 years, to chat with us about Gray & Son Then vs. Now!

We went through a file of old photos and talked through the differences between then (some of which were definitely before their time) and now. Three main areas of change jumped out:

Safety

It’s pretty obvious that what’s happening in this photo wouldn’t fly today! But it does make for a cool old picture. Safety standards have really improved, and a big part of what we do is ensuring the safety of our employees and the communities we work in.

 

While this may just look like a truck with a closed cab, it’s actually what our crews used to ride in to get to jobs! In the bed of the truck, there were benches along each side for people to sit on, and the cover did little to keep the crew warm on snowy days like this one. And of course, riding in the beds of trucks without a seatbelt is no longer allowed!

 

This would also be a definite safety no-no these days, but it was a completely normal practice even 20 years ago. Instead of lifting large pipes with a bucket, like this, we now move them with straps and chains.

 

Equipment

This 955 loader from the 1960s/1970s looks a lot less comfortable than today’s equipment! The open cab would be quite hot or chilly depending on the weather, and the operator is open to dust, debris and all of the elements!

 

Today’s loader looks a lot different! Our operators are safely inside a cab, with climate control and much more comfortable surroundings.

 

Scrapers like these aren’t used as often anymore – these are used for mass grading. You’d load the scraper with dirt by pushing it on with a dozer, then the scraper would dump the dirt in fill areas. These types of jobs have really tapered off in the 2000s, as the types of jobs we do have changed.

 

When Gray & Son first started building roads and curbs, the crews had to hand-form every curb. This machine, from about 20 years ago, was one of the first machines we had that would form the curbs. While our equipment (and photo quality!) looks a bit more modern these days, they still function pretty similarly.

 

Type of Job Site

From the mid-1970s through the 1990s, Gray & Son performed a lot of large site grading work, as well as clearing and paving new roads. Many of these projects were for new, large subdivisions. Now that much of the land in the area has been utilized for these big neighborhoods, the frequency of these types of jobs has tapered off.

 

In this picture from the mid-1990s, you can see a mass grading project utilizing lots of big equipment. These types of operations involved moving thousands of yards of dirt a day.

 

This impressive image shows all of the equipment being used on a huge commercial complex we worked on in the mid-1990s. Projects of this scale just don’t happen as frequently as they used to!

 

While we still have and use all of our mass grading equipment for our large projects, we also move a lot of dirt today using an excavator and end dumps. This allows us to maneuver more easily on smaller sites that are close to or even part of an existing development – a type of job we do regularly these days.

 

Taking a trip down memory lane through all of these old photos made our team proud to be part of such a long-standing company with a rich history. It also made us grateful for the safety changes that have been implemented through the year! Have any questions about then vs. now at Gray & Son? Reach out on our Facebook page, and we’ll be happy to answer.