The Eslich name has become synonymous with demolition in northeast Ohio. At any given time, excavators bearing the Louisville, Ohio-based demolition firm’s name can be found tearing away on a host of projects ranging from commercial and industrial buildings in Akron, schools in Cleveland, houses in Canton, or even roller coasters at Cedar Point in Sandusky. Each demolition project provides a unique set of challenges, and with 60 years of experience, Eslich is well equipped to bring it down.
“We like the industrial and commercial projects,” says John Eslich, vice president Eslich Wrecking. Eslich is up for the challenge. Though not as large as other firms in the area, it is competitive, winning some of the more difficult projects—ones that are taller or have buildings next to them that need to stay.
Projects like smoke stacks and water towers fall right within Eslich’s wheelhouse. “The harder the better,” John says.
Using the slogan, “You name it, we wreck it,” the company performs projects “of any size” mainly in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania but is capable of going anywhere in the U.S.
“As a family owned company, we don’t have a big corporate structure,” says John. “We are a smaller company that can do a large project. We are easy to get a hold of and meet up with. We have deep roots in the community, so we want to do a good job.”
According to John, “Every job comes back to you. If you do it right, it will come back to you in a good way.”
In addition to demolition, the company also operates C&D landfills in Norton and East Canton, Ohio, and operates a concrete crushing plant in Akron, Ohio.
The company has trucks, portable crushers, and about 30 Caterpillar and Komatsu excavators in various size classes. Stanley LaBounty and Allied Gator shears and pulverizes are among the attachments the company uses in its projects.
The company was founded by Michael Eslich in 1956, and today led by Richard Eslich Sr. along with his sons John, Richard Jr., and Matt. The company has more than 60 team members, some of whom have been employed by Eslich Wrecking for more than 30 years.
John started working in the family business in high school. He earned a degree in accounting from John Carroll University and after graduation in 1991, he returned to the company full time.
His first order of business was to bring some technology to the company. He also made sure he had all the training and certifications he needed to be compliant with safety, hazardous materials and asbestos requirements.
He recalls the business operating a bit differently all those years ago than it does today. Nowadays a lot more paperwork is needed and people can communicate with each other instantly. Twenty-five years ago, workers in the field had pagers and had to find the nearest gas station to call the office.
“It is insane now,” John says. “Everything is immediate and quick, which is good because we get more accomplished, but you also lose the personal aspects because we don’t do as much face-to-face. There’s plusses and minuses.”
Whether in person, by email or by phone, John says effective communication is important. “My goal is to treat every customer fairly and do the best I can to be very communicative up front so expectations are met.” Otherwise, he says, “If you ask me to do something and I don’t clearly present my plan to you, once you hire me, it may not come out how you had in mind.”
EMPHASIS ON RECYCLING
Eslich recycles materials from the demolition projects it completes, usually from 50 to 90 percent, depending on the type of project, John says. Industrial jobs are the easiest to recycle because they are mostly concrete and metals, he notes.
“We can recycle up to 80 percent pretty easily,” he says. “Schools are a little tougher because they have more interior walls. Warehouses have very little in the way of interiors. We can get up to 90 percent.”
Eslich has been involved on some Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) projects but, in John’s experience, he’s seen a drop in those projects. “Five years ago, it seemed important, but we’ve seen less of it in the last two years.” LEED, he says, is driven by the architects.
John says Eslich always recycles metals from a project and recycles the metals that come into its landfills from area contractors. Concrete is valuable, too. The company will use the concrete it crushes for beneficial reuse at its landfill sites as road fill.
“We try not to throw any concrete away,” he says.
The company’s Akron concrete recycling facility markets and sells aggregates. It receives material from its own projects, but a large portion comes from other contractors. The company crushes about 50,000 tons per year at the facility. “Everything that gets crushed up there, we sell,” John says.
Like many demolition contractors, metals have been a challenging market for Eslich over the last two years. “Pricing is so unpredictable and short-lived,” says John. “It fluctuates quickly and makes it extremely challenging to take your stuff to the market.”
He adds that recyclers aren’t buying. “It is something we haven’t seen in a decade. It is much more challenging than it once was.”
The metals pricing also affects how Eslich bids projects as it can’t offer the same terms it offered the same contractor five years ago.
“We’ve become more conservative,” John notes.
The demolition projects Eslich Wrecking performs are varied. The company usually has about six projects going on at one time, ranging from schools to bridges.
The company performs some explosive demolition in situations that are appropriate. A few years ago, the company completed work for the amusement park Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.
Crews took down the Space Spiral and the Disaster Transport for the park. The company used explosives to take down the Space Spiral. A portion of the track and a coaster car from each ride were salvaged for the park’s museum.
According to John, being successful in the demolition industry takes “hard work, education, the right equipment, having good, solid ethics, bonding capacity and the financial backing to perform the job.”
Reaching the 60-year anniversary means quite a bit to John and the rest of the family.
“We are truly honored to reach such a huge milestone, and we understand the pressure because most third-generation family businesses do not see a 60th anniversary so we want to continue to work hard and build upon this success,” John says.
How will Eslich build on its success? John says, “I think we will do a lot of the same things and continue in the general construction industry with a focus on recycling and clearing dilapidated buildings for bigger and better things, making clear the path for new developers.”