J.R. Vinagro Corporation Demolishes Massachusetts Bridge


Repeated battering from recent Nor’easters didn’t stop the J.R. Vinagro Corporation from tearing down a portion of I-95 north and southbound over North Avenue in Attleboro, Mass., in March. The Johnston, R.I., company brought excavators equipped with shears and hydraulic hammers to demolish and remove 7,200-sq.-ft. of superstructure and substructure, according to Joe Pasquerella, project manager.

“The asphalt, concrete and steel were 100 percent recycled,” Pasquerella said.

The company owns and operates a construction and demolition facility where they handle the debris from multiple demolition projects throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Vinagro separates and recycles debris as part of their business model that limits the amount of debris sent to the landfill.

“Concrete we crush within a month, which is then sold or used on other jobs. The steel we downsize at our yard and send it to Sims or Schnitzer,” he said.

Vinagro worked with JF White, the general contractor working with MassDOT under contract for $19.9 million, Federal Aid Project No. NHP-95-1(108). The demolition workforce consisted of six operators and four laborers (wreckers). The northbound phase of the project was completed one year ago after a temporary ramp was built in between the two bridges.

“They put the northbound on a temporary bridge and we demolished the northbound portion one year ago. It was a fully-engineered plan stamped by a licensed PE in the state of Massachusetts that analyzed the plan we developed with him,” Pasquerella said.

“If you have the room to put a temporary bridge like he did that’s the way you do it so you can demo each side completely in one phase. The engineer has to analyze bridge. We place excavators on the bridge to demolish it, and they make sure the bridge won’t be faulty while we’re doing the procedures. The bridge was a simple, three-span bridge. We put two excavators on the bridge and started in the middle, facing each other in the middle of the center span to crash the deck below and work their way back. After they crash the deck the shear machines — one on each side — grab and pull the structure off the bearings. Once they’re down we cut them into pieces.”

Talking to Pasquerella conjures images of a demolition equipment “Batcave” filled with wonderful toys such as a multitude of excavators, high-reach excavators, shears, grapples and hydraulic hammers at the ready at the Johnston, R.I. location.

“That would be true if we weren’t so busy all the time. Our equipment is always working,” he said.

Vinagro also owns and maintains a fleet of tractor trailers for transporting equipment and materials to and from the job sites where crews and machines are working.

The company also excels in rock crushing and aggregate production, employing their large inventory of heavy-duty commercial equipment to crush all types of rock. Their onsite equipment includes excavators, loaders, heavy duty quarry crushing plants, large capacity conveyors and multiple track crushers.

“It all went very well. No complaints. We’ve done so many of these bridges — they’re so closely similar in their contraction — that we have it down pretty well.”


Weylu’s, former Chinese restaurant on Route 1, falls to wrecking ball

By Dan Adams Globe Correspondent,September 16, 2015, 10:14 a.m.

Weylu’s, the massive former Chinese restaurant in Saugus once renowned for its lavish dining rooms, is now the latest Route 1 landmark to fall to the wrecking ball.

Demolition of the 1,500-seat restaurant, which thrived in the late 1980s and early 1990s, began Wednesday, when construction crews started tearing open the roof.

The owner, Republic Properties Inc., plans to replace the crumbling icon with a mixed-use development that includes a hotel, residences, and retail shops. Weylu’s fate mirrors the recent demolition of the nearby Hilltop Steakhouse, a similarly beloved restaurant on the faded Route 1 commercial strip whose 68-foot-tall cactus sign now towers over an empty concrete lot.

Weylu’s was once an opulent destination for local diners. Its final location, built for $13 million from 1986 to 1989, was outfitted with flourishes like an indoor waterfall and hand-painted Chinese vases.

But the restaurant closed in 1999 after business slowed and the Bank of China foreclosed on the property. Several other restaurants opened in the space but all failed. The building was abandoned for good in 2009, and quickly fell into disrepair, set upon by vandals.


A Family Company Committed to Safety and the Environment

Based in Johnston, Rhode Island, J.R. Vinagro is one of the largest independently-owned and operated demolition, recycling, and crushing companies in New England. The team operates 150 trucks daily and maintains an extensive inventory of heavy construction and demolition equipment to take on some of the region’s highest profile, most demanding demolition projects.
The family-owned business handles every aspect of these projects, from facility decontamination and onsite rock crushing to offsite waste hauling for recycling, decontamination, and disposal.

The company’s industry experts develop and implement decontamination and demolition plans that are specially designed to fit each project’s unique needs. “We collaborate with our customer to help them achieve their most important objectives,” says Safety Director Matt Leonard. In addition to being customer-centric, safety and the environment are at the heart of every plan the team develops. All of the company’s waste management programs and material tracking systems comply with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED requirements for project certification.

A family company
Family ownership has had a lasting impact on the company culture. “The evolution of our business reflects, above all, the experience and values of the Vinagro family,” Mr. Leonard remarks. “As a family‐owned business, J.R. Vinagro offers distinctive benefits to employees and customers. We embrace strong traditions and deeply rooted family values. The Vinagro family cares more about the long-term value of the brand and creating a sustainable legacy.”

These family values translate into superior customer care and a deep loyalty to staff members. “J.R. Vinagro has a strong commitment to quality service, but an even stronger commitment and deep compassion for the care and concern of our employees,” says Mr. Leonard. “It is a culture dedicated to employee engagement and the promise of delivering outstanding customer service. It is a culture in which the expectation is that every employee feels a genuine sense of belonging and a genuine sense of fulfillment for their contributions.”

President Joseph Vinagro’s commitment disseminates throughout the company and motivates employees to match his level of dedication. “We are successful because the owner of the company is 100 percent hands-on and is dedicated to strengthening and growing the company,” Mr. Steven R. Lombardi, who is in charge of the company’s Crushing Operations. “The management team has also put together a strong group of employees who work together and care about the company as if it was their own.”

Safety first
The demolition and crushing business comes with inherent dangers, so safety always comes first at J.R. Vinagro. “J. R. Vinagro Corporation’s dedication to safety is the core value of our company and reflects the fundamental respect we have for our employees, equipment, clients, the public and the environment,” says Mr. Leonard. “We aim to exceed the industry standards for health and safety and maintain our corporate goal of ZERO accidents, injuries, or illnesses.”

The company’s commitment to safety begins before the job even starts. “We conduct our activities in a responsible manner to protect our employees, the public and the environment by collaborating and planning for every task prior to starting any job,” Mr. Leonard shares. The team develops a Job Hazards Analysis (JHA) and a site-specific Safety Plan to fully prepare workers before launching a project. To ensure safety throughout the job, the company expects employee involvement, subcontractor participation, and management commitment, as well as workplace hazard analysis, hazard prevention and control, and behavior‐based safety and health training.

The company’s Health and Safety program receives ongoing updates to keep it relevant and effective. “The program is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of our clients and the industry,” Mr. Leonard reports. A full time Corporate Health and Safety Director and staff manage the Health and Safety program. “We have a great team of safety leaders that instill proper training to our supervisors and employees,” Mr. Lombardi shares. “Safety is always our number one challenge as it is important for everyone to go home safe at the end of the day. The demolition and recycling business raises a lot of hazards and obstacles for our employees.”

J.R. Vinagro created a Safety Committee that meets weekly to discusses safety issues and develop solutions. The committee seeks feedback from the company’s supervisors so that the team can make improvements to a job plan on a day-to-day basis. “We have seen major results since this committee has been established,” Project Manager Joseph Pasquerella reports.

The team understands that equipment plays an important role in safety as well. The latest, leading edge technology reduces risk, as do well-maintained machines. “J.R. Vinagro continues to invest in the latest state of the art equipment to provide our employees the best and safest technology, equipment and strategies with every task of the job,” says Mr. Leonard.

J.R. Vinagro performs abatement work, which requires special certification and training to ensure safety. “[The company] has the capabilities to perform in-house abatement, with properly certified and continuously trained personnel,” Mr. Pasquerella reports. “With continuously more stringent regulation requirements, the company must always stay on top of these new requirements and make sure adjustments are made to comply. Our safety department/committee conducts extensive training on a regular basis to keep employees’ training up to, and beyond, industry standards.”

Going green
J.R. Vinagro is an environmentally friendly company. “There is no better feeling than being an organization that is improving and protecting our environment,” Mr. Leonard attests. “The Vinagro roots are in farming; therefore, we know firsthand the importance of a clean and healthy environment for anything to grow.”

The company owns and operates a fully licensed C & D processing and transfer facility with an extremely high recycling rate for the industry. “Our transfer station is a big part of our environmentally friendly approach,” says Dana Zewsinki, the company’s Environmental Engineer. “We take our demo back to the plant and put all salvageable materials to good use. We also crush all the concrete to spec material to be used as backfill and road base and supply material to many construction projects across the region. We also offer waste management plans and recycling reports for projects seeking LEED certification. Our customers include some of the largest general contractors in the Northeast.”

By turning waste into a resource, the company’s innovative recycling practices make a positive impact every day. J .R. Vinagro’s C & D Recycling Facility processes a whopping 3.6 million pounds of Construction and Demolition debris daily. 86 percent of this debris is recycled and diverted from landfilling. “Our efforts prevent over 712 million pounds of C & D material from entering landfills each year,” Mr. Zewinski reports. J.R. Vinagro’s ABC Recycling Facility processes an additional two billion pounds of asphalt, brick and concrete debris yearly—100 percent of which is repurposed and sold to customers.

Land Clearing is the latest division to become part of the J.R. Vinagro Team. Equipped to perform both small and large scale forestry projects, this operation has the capability of producing a multitude of end products, from firewood to wood chips to mulch, based on the needs of the company. None of the resources harvested by the land clearing division are wasted. The less acceptable parts of the process such as bark, tree tops and stumps are chipped and delivered to a wood gasification plant to generate electricity. Even topsoil associated with the root systems is reclaimed and reused. “This division has created a whole new avenue of work for the company that is credit to the foresight of the owner,” states Brian Palombo, head of the Land Clearing Division. This division is quickly expanding and becoming a valuable resource to the company and clients alike.

Looking ahead
The team expects work to continue to pick up in the near future. President and Owner Joseph R. Vinagro predicts growth will be driven largely by an increase in bridge construction and the continued redevelopment of urban areas as well as the hard work and dedication of his team. “Our people are our most valuable resource and have helped drive the success of this company throughout the years. Their commitment is truly appreciated and is what makes this company great.”

Mr. Pasquerella adds, “I believe the company will continue to grow, but more importantly I believe the company will become even more streamlined, efficient and prosperous. From the owner down, we all want to be the best we can be.”

The company is investing in technology, equipment, and its employees to prepare for the active, growth-focused future that its leaders foresee. “I feel our company will continue to grow in all of our divisions,” Mr. Lombardi summarizes. “Our owner sets the bar high with leadership and provides us with the best equipment and materials to get the job done. With dedication like that, the sky is the limit for our company.”


Peterson Grinder and Chipper Support Land Clearing Operation at JR Vinagro Corporation

By: Diane Calabrese

Published October 1, 2016


JOHNSTON, Rhode Island — Demolition and crushing operations know a thing or two about heavy equipment. They put their machines to the twin tests of durability and strength every day. Consequently, when such companies add to their equipment roster, they look closely at machine specifications and availability of service.

And they do so whether they want a machine that will crush rock or grind wood. Consider the experience at JR Vinagro Corporation in Johnston, R.I.

“JR Vinagro Corporation is one of the largest, independently owned and operated recycling, demolition, land clearing, and crushing companies in New England,” said Brian Palombo, superintendent of land clearing at the firm. Brian worked in the demolition division of the company before the land clearing division launched.

Two machines from Peterson (an Astec Industries Co.) support the land clearing operation. One is a Peterson 5710C grinder, which has been in service since 2012. The other is a Peterson 4310B chipper, which had been in service about nine months when Brian talked with us in mid-September.

A Peterson 4310B Drum Chipper Working Hard
A Peterson 4310B track-mounted drum chipper, powered by a 765 horsepower C18 Caterpillar engine is used at JR Vinagro to chip whole trees and tops. It has been designed for ease of use and reliability.

“We selected the Peterson [equipment] because of its specifications and the parts and service that we get from Barry Equipment,” said Brian. Barry Equipment Co., Inc. is a family owned and operated heavy equipment dealership located in Webster, Mass. Peterson is headquartered in Eugene, Oregon. Bryan Morris is the sales representative from Barry Equipment who worked closely with Brian.

Tom Barry, who owns Barry Equipment, said his company first began working with JR Vinagro Corporation about eight years ago, having provided some Doosan machines, including a delimber. “They’re excellent people to work with,” said Tom about the JR Vinagro team. “They’re into so many things. This venture into land clearing is a new and promising endeavor.”

JR Vinagro Corporation exemplifies vertical integration, explained Tom. “They do a lot of start to finish projects – clear the land, forward.”

JR Vinagro Corp. personnel in front of a Peterson 4310B Drum Chipper
JR Vinagro Corp. personnel

The can-do approach at JR Vinagro is energizing to witness, said Tom. The company decides to make something happen and then follows through with vigor.

Barry Equipment has a history of serving the needs of both the construction and the timber industries. “Downtime” is a phenomenon his equipment customers never want to experience, said Tom. Understanding that, he and his team strive to provide equipment that is an exacting match for the unique requirements of each customer.

The Peterson 5710C grinder is in service 40 hours a week, said Brian. The track machine is used both in the company yard and at job sites. Low beds are used to move it.

Stumps and pallet wood are fed to the grinder, said Brian. “JR Vinagro Corporation creates mulch, or as a secondary product, we create wood grinding to be used as fuel.”

The feed opening on the Peterson 5710C grinder is 60 by 40 inches. The grinder is configured with Peterson’s high production adaptive control system, which as the name suggests, adjusts the feed system to optimize the grinding process.

The Peterson 4310B drum chipper sees about 30 to 40 hours per week of service, said Brian. It is used to chip whole trees and tops. Like the Peterson grinder, the track chipper is used both in the yard and at job sites, being moved with low beds.

“[Chips] are sent to the power plant to be used as fuel,” said Brian. The Peterson chipper allows chip length to be set from 1/8 inch to 1-1/4 inch, as such it gives biomass fuel producers the ability to meet the preferences of chip buyers.

JR Vinagro Corporation’s land clearing division is part of a much bigger team.

“JR Vinagro is a family-owned business and those values underline everything that the company represents,” said Brian. “It’s something that makes the company with over 400 employees stand out from other businesses.”

A Peterson 4310B drum chipper being loaded feeding tops at JR Vinagro Crop.
A Peterson 4310B chipper being loaded feeding tops at JR Vinagro Crop. Both machines were purchased from Barry Equipment, a family owned and operated heavy equipment dealership in Webster, Mass.

To get some idea of the scope of JR Vinagro Corporation, keep in mind that it operates 150 trucks daily and maintains a large inventory of heavy construction and demolition equipment. Its equipment has been used on some of the highest profile demolition and crushing projects in its region.

The company is based out of Johnston, Rhode Island, a town of approximately 28,000. It is part of Providence County and is just five miles southwest of the city of Providence.

Brian joined JR Vinagro 10 years ago. “I had known others who worked [for the company], including my brother,” he explained. “I was looking to make a change to a company that showed great potential for growth and where I could see a long-term future for myself. JR Vinagro had all the things I was looking for.”

Not all wood felled by the mechanical and manual cutting crews goes to the grinder or chipper. Grade material is sorted and sent to lumber mills. And there is a firewood processing operation that is operated in the company’s Johnston yard.

The range of jobs taken on by JR Vinagro Corporation is enormous. It completes projects for residential, commercial and industrial clients. Land clearing encompasses site preparation for all the foregoing sectors and contributes to right-of-way maintenance.

J.R. Vinagro use a Peterson Grinder and Chipper in their operations.
J.R. Vinagro Corporation, based out of Johnston, RI, maintains a large inventory of heavy construction and demolition equipment. Its equipment has been used on some of the highest profile demolitions and crushing projects in the region.

“Land-clearing companies like JR Vinagro need reliable, strong and productive equipment to get their jobs completed,” said Charlie Bagnall, Peterson’s territory manager for Northeastern United States and Canada. Bagnall is based in West Wyoming, Penn.

Support for the equipment is also a must. “Companies need a local dealer who can bring expertise and value to their business,” said Charlie.

As the manufacturer’s representative, Charlie sees a vital three-way partnership among customer, dealer and manufacturer as a key to customer success. The success of the end user of equipment is, after all, a mirror to the success of dealer and manufacturer.

“We are in the solutions business,” said Charlie of the approach Peterson takes. “Customers come to us with situations that challenge their businesses. As always, we have to listen to our customer’s needs. If we can provide them with the right solution for their company, then that is great. If not, we have to point them in the right direction.”

“We have a great team here at Peterson – from engineering to production to parts and service.” said Bagnall, who has been with the company since 2008 and in the equipment business more than 20 years.

In the genial and robust links among manufacturer, dealer and end user, full focus is always on getting the important work – the end user’s — done. Yet it’s natural to pause now and then to marvel at the industrial equipment itself. Note just a few of the features of the Peterson machines that JR Vinagro Corporation chose.

The Peterson 4310B track-mounted drum chipper has been designed for ease of use and high reliability. From its durable knives to its modest fuel consumption the owner finds a great deal to appreciate.

A 765 horsepower C18 Caterpillar engine powers the Peterson 4310B. The Peterson 4310B is designed for frequent moves and high production. The Peterson drum chipper can be fed brush or small stock to 24-inch logs. The operator of the Peterson 4310B gets a read of complete engine and system parameters from the LCD display on the control panel.

“Being around our equipment is awesome too. Who doesn’t enjoy getting to be around grinders and chippers with over 1000 horsepower? Sometimes we forget how amazing this equipment is.”

The Peterson 5710C grinder has the highest power to weight ratio of any grinder in the Peterson line. And it deftly thwarts contaminants thanks to Peterson’s impact cushion system. Urethane cushions allow movement of the compression roll/anvil housing pivot shaft, while shear pins above the cushion (with sensing circuit) stop the engine to protect the shaft if there is a severe impact. The 5710C can be powered by a Caterpillar C27 or a Caterpillar C32 engine.

It’s tremendously exciting to see businesses branch out and grow as he consults with them about equipment solutions, said Charlie. “Being around our equipment is awesome too. Who doesn’t enjoy getting to be around grinders and chippers with over 1000 horsepower? Sometimes we forget how amazing this equipment is.”

For immersion in the breath-stopping activity of amazing equipment, one need only see a company like JR Vinagro Corporation in action. The company has the resources and experience required to handle demolition projects of all sorts, including facility decontamination, on-site rock crushing, and off-site waste hauling for recycling, reclamation and/or disposal. It also owns and operates a state-of-the-art transfer station facility that is licensed to handle C&D material and solid waste; the installation also accepts tree waste and yard waste.

Brian enjoys his work very much. “Being outdoors and getting to meet new clients who are associated with different types of projects” are great rewards, he said.


Demolition of Gardner Cinemas

GARDNER – It was once the center of the community, a place where the magic of Hollywood was offered to anyone with a buck or two in their pocket. By the time J.R. Vinagro Corp. set up its excavating machine, the floors of the old Gardner Cinemas building were collapsing, there was a large hole through the roof above one theater and homeless people were living in condemned apartments in the front of the building.

Tuesday morning, crews began razing one section of the cement-block theater block at 34-40 Parker St. The main building, which is several stories high in the back, will be demolished next week, paving the way for a parking lot and park area.

Watching the demolition from Connors Street were movie fans of several generations. Each had a special memory of the two-screen theater once known as the Orpheum Theater.

Built in 1913, the building housed a movie theater from 1919 until it closed in 1999 when the Gardner Cinemas moved to Timpany Plaza.

“When I was a little kid, we’d come here for Saturday matinees,” recalled Rick Ladroga, an engineering consultant who got a chance to tour the building at the request of the owner after it was closed and decaying.

Mr. Ladroga said he recalls clearly the cherubs on the ceiling of the ornate main theater, and the ever-present smell of popcorn. He said his mother took him to see the movie “Tora! Tora! Tora!” about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

“The last movie I saw was ‘Terminator’ in 1984,” he said. “I liked it so much I came back and watched it the next night.”

Standing with him on Connors Street, Bruce Mierzejewski fondly recalled sneaking in the back door of the theater with several friends. He said they would pool their money and one would buy a ticket, go in, and open the back door for the rest of them. He said the first movie he remembers seeing there was “Mary Poppins.”

One of the youngest people watching was 4-year-old Carter Ravish, who could not get enough of the big machine tearing down the building. His grandmother Cindy said she recalls seeing a movie in the theater when she was a teenager, but could not remember which one. She said she was interested in the demolition in part because her daughter works at a pizza business in a building next door.

Mike Clapper had vivid memories of the cinemas. He said one of the first films he saw there was “Roger Rabbit,” which his grandfather took him to in the 1980s.

“The last movie I saw was ‘Titanic,’ ” he said. “I was on a date.”

For Don Leblanc, 73, the movie theater was like a family business. He, his father and brother were all projectionists.


“We closed it down,” he said, explaining that the theater went non-union after it moved from downtown and he and his brother lost their jobs.

Mr. Leblanc said he was allowed to see most movies free when his father worked there, but not the big releases. When Elvis Presley’s “Loving You” came out, he had to pay.

Although Mr. Leblanc has good memories of the theater, he is glad it is being demolished.

“It’s time to come down,” he said. “It’s served its purpose.”

One of the odder stories about the theater involves the ghosts of the Gardner Cinema. Strange occurrences and occasional sightings of apparitions led people to claim the building was haunted by a woman named Alice. There may have also been a male ghost, whose footsteps, with one foot dragging, could be heard where the cellar of the building goes under the the sidewalk in front.

When the theater closed in 1999, apartments in the building remained occupied until a May 2007 fire caused substantial damage, leaving a gaping hole in the roof over one of the theaters. With the building open to the elements, decay set in. The building was condemned.

The tenants may not have been the last people living in the building. Ryan Billingsly, project supervisor for J.R. Viragro Corp., said when a crew went in to inspect the building, they found clothing and other items that indicated people were living in the building.

Mr. Billingsly said he has seen no sign of Alice, but heard about the ghost from city officials. In the building was a sign that read, “New America House Gardner, rooms $1.50 and $2 with bath.”

Athough the building has other structures within inches of it, Mr. Billingsly said, the project poses no major challenges.

“It’s just an old dilapidated building,” he said. “It’s condemned, so it is compromised.”

In October, the city bought the building from owner Salim Chowdhry for $88,000. Gardner Economic Development Coordinator Joshua Cormier said the cost of razing the building and disposing of the rubble is $617,000, of which nearly $500,000 will be paid for by a brownfields redevelopment grant. Because of floor collapses, some parts of the building were not cleared of asbestos and will have to be treated as contaminated. When the building is demolished, materials will be taken to a hazardous waste disposal site.