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Deep Foundation Records Reflect Groundbreaking Progress
Engineers favor deep foundations when there are very large design loads, poor soil at shallow depth or site constraints, such as adjacent structures. Many deep foundations are put in place by driven piles or drilled shafts. And most foundation contractors tend to specialize in one method or the other.
"I grew up in a pile-driving family," says Mike Wysockey, president of Thatcher Foundations Inc., Gary, Ind. "My father took over the firm, which was founded in 1946, in the early 1970s." The pile-driving "market in general has been picking up some, with bigger firms trying to muscle into the deep foundation market. Firms are chasing the work really hard."
Thatcher performs mostly building work, as well as sheet piles for retaining walls and dock walls. Its main competitors are Case Foundation and Hayward Baker, both owned by the Keller Group.
One recent development that Wysockey has seen is the introduction of "bigger new H-pile sections. They used to be 14 inches. Now they make 16-in. and 18-in. H-pile that can hold more load. They can support a bigger hammer. In some ways it's easier to drive bigger piles. Bigger, stiff beams are a conduit of energy."
Van Hogan, director of development at the Pile Driving Contractors Association, agrees with that view, commenting that "contractors are driving larger piles that require bigger hammers, and are trying to get higher capacities out of these piles." He points towards improvements in equipment, as well.
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