Jim Dvoratchek is president of Hard Rock Concrete Cutters Inc., based in Wheeling, Ill., a firm that employs about 50 people and runs 20 cutting crews. In business for more than 30 years, Hard Rock's work encompasses both sawing and core drilling applications. Dvoratchek has long been active in CSDA, and is currently vice president of the association.

Much of the company's work involves cutting new openings in slabs and walls to prepare an existing structure for a renovation or addition. The entity hiring Hard Rock varies from project to project; it might be the general, concrete, or mechanical contractor, depending on the scope of the work and which trades are most involved. As the work often includes cutting to install new plumbing or electrical lines, the company employs and assigns crews with plumbers and electricians to projects where that knowledge could be useful.

Dvoratchek says his crews use wet-cutting procedures whenever possible. “Wet-cutting gives the best protection against silicosis. It also increases blade life and allows us to cut faster. We'll only cut dry if there's a special circumstance in which water could cause problems,” he says. “For example, if we're cutting mortar joints in a historic building, the wet slurry could cause staining or damage to old materials. There also are situations where wet-cutting is less safe. If you're working in a nuclear plant, the water can become radioactive and then pose all sorts of complicated disposal problems.”

One factor Dvoratchek sees as critical to his company's success is good tools, particularly good diamond blades that are well matched to the work at hand. “We rely on manufacturers' reps to supply blades they've tested and determined will work with the aggregates found on a job. Different regions use different aggregates, and that affects what type of blade will cut the concrete most efficiently,” he says.

Another important factor is professional training for concrete cutters. “We're specialists, so we have to know how to work faster and more effectively in various situations than people who don't have the same background.”

Click here to read Kenneth A. Hooker's feature article, Hey, Cut That Out!.