A Bronx-based paving contractor is turning heads with a new tool for multitasking on the streets and sidewalks of New York City. City and County Paving Corp. offers asphalt paving, concrete, excavation, drainage and commercial sitework services as a third-generation construction company operating throughout Long Island, Lower Westchester and the “Big Apple.”
Last year, City and County Paving acquired its first Vacuworx product—an SL 2 Subcompact Vacuum Lifting System—putting the unit to work at the site of a boutique hotel developed by home furnishings retailer RH, formerly Restoration Hardware, at 55 Gansevoort St. in Manhattan.
Mike Bavaro, president of City and County Paving, has been following Vacuworx in the trade magazines for years. He ultimately bought into the concept of vacuum lifting technology while preparing to maneuver select materials now contributing to the historic character and special architecture of the Gansevoort Market, otherwise known as the Meatpacking District.
Wielding stone, concrete and steel plate by traditional methods that involve slings, cables and chokers can be both time consuming and labor intensive, not to mention potentially hazardous to the well being of laborers and integrity of high-end materials.
The Vacuworx SL 2 has a 4,400-lb lifting capacity and features a hydraulically driven vacuum pump that operates using the auxiliary hydraulics from the carrier equipment. Highly versatile, the system includes quick-connect hoses and a factory pre-set flow control valve ensuring optimal performance while being operated in conjunction with a variety of host machines.
All system components of the SL 2 are fabricated from high-quality aluminum to maximize the lifting capacity of the host machine. Available with wireless or manual remote control, SL 2 lifters are compatible with equipment ranging from skid steers to mini-excavators to small cranes.
For City and County Paving, the decision to purchase coincided with some hard questions pertaining to the safe and efficient handling of granite pavers and black-painted diamond plate steel.
“They wanted quarter-inch diamond plate, 4’ x 9’, weighing 400 lb a piece,” Bavaro said. “The pavers, 9’ x 5’ and 3 inches thick weighing 1,800 lb a piece, had to be set on top of new structural slab as a finished surface. It was 120 feet of frontage, 18 feet from the curb to the building.
“As you can imagine, picking up and setting granite precisely into place with a sling is not easy. How do you do it? How do you pick up and precisely maneuver 1,800-lb slabs of high-end granite?”
The answer became 100% real for Bavaro when first pairing his new SL 2 lifter and a Bobcat E55 compact excavator, enabling a virtually effortless job. “It was a breeze,” Bavaro said. “We had zero issues losing pressure or anything. Sucked it right up. It would have been a tremendously difficult job without it.”
In fact, the Vacuworx SL 2 was proven so quickly and completely that Bavaro set out almost immediately repurposing the vacuum lifting equipment to perform alternate tasks. Beyond creating safer work spaces by limiting or removing unnecessary activities, he has been busy building up confidence in his 79-year-old company’s ability to think one step ahead and proactively anticipate future needs.
One of those tasks ending up involving the use of the SL 2 with a Bobcat mini-excavator to lift and carry 1” thick road plates—5’ x 10’ in size—as part of City and County Paving’s roadwork portion of the Gansevoort job.
“Anytime you go to pick up and handle a steel road plate in the tight confines of a NY City street it is harrowing,” Bavaro continued. “A lot of guys get hurt picking up steel. We picked them up and stacked them easily on a trailer. It was simple, no chains or cables or trying to wedge the plates into a clamshell backhoe bucket. We have also been using (the Vacuworx system) for spot repairs on New York City sidewalks. We saw cut the slabs into 5’ x 5’ sections and lift them out, there is no jackhammer, so we avoid the noise and dust and the cost (of rehandling). We lay them right in the dumpster.
“It is four different tasks we have used it for and it is awesome. Once you learn to trust the machine you relax, you know that it is very reliable and safe, fear of the load falling off quickly goes out the window.”
RH’s five-story boutique concept hotel, showcasing the California-based retailer’s wares in a 25,000-sf building with 14 guest rooms, ground-floor restaurant space and a rooftop bar featuring views of the Manhattan skyline, opened in 2021.
City and County Paving, founded by Bavaro’s grandfather, has operated continuously in the New York City-area since its establishment in 1942.