By Ron Pestone
George’s smile increased by a fraction of an inch and he finally asked, “What’s your plan for taking it down?”
Dominick who was already revered up hit overdrive, “George it’s a cakewalk. I figure we put a bid in for 60 grand to take it down. First, we’ll send in the guys to rip off the copper roof. This school is almost a square city block. I snatched a piece of the copper roofing when I was here the other day and weighed it. I figure we got close to 25 grand in that copper roof. The steel in the building is enormous and at junk prices is worth every bit of 20 grand. The steel that isn’t bent when we take it down we sell at the existing steel prices and it’s worth every bit of 40 grand and if there isn’t 45 grand in the salvaged brick my name isn’t Dominick.
“So that’s the dollars of the deal and speaking of dollars how much you figure its going to cost us to take the building down?”
Dominick liked the us, he snapped, “Not a dime over 15 grand.”
“So subtracting the 15 grand you think we can make between 135 grand to 175 grand.”
“We could do better, but that’s the worst we can do”, Answered Dominick. That was a lot of cabbage back then and as he said he almost smiled.
“The dollars are interesting Dominick, but you still haven’t told me how you intend to demo the building.”
Dominick’s chest expanded like a balloon and with relish he said, “It’s simple, first the guys strip the copper off the roof which we’ll sell at the scrap yard. Then I will go through the building and cut all the steel in the right places that’s holding the building up and then I hook up two giant steel cables to the steel at the top of each of the outside corners of the building that are facing the street and run them down to my loader far enough down the street from the building that nobody gets hurt and as soon as I have them hooked up I’ll pull the building down onto the street.”
George told me he thought he had paled a little.
Dominick laughed and said, “George it’s so simple, once I pull the building down onto the street I’ll swear it was an accident and not to worry I’ll clean up the mess. Even if we get a fine it will be chicken shit compared to what we’ll make.”
George said he was dumbfounded.
Dominick was in for the kill, “What are they going to do George, make me put it back up?”
George said they ended up in a local bar, Dominick drinking boiler makers and George drinking martinis. George told me he wasn’t sure when they made the deal to partner on the job but they did make the deal and four weeks later they put in a bid for $57,200 to demo the building.
It was years later when George told me the story and he only told me because I was down because I had lost a bid on a job I really wanted.
He said it was the luckiest day in his life when they lost that bid and some other guy caught the job at $52,000. What happened later was enough to swear him off martinis when he was doing business.
Shaking his big head that now had a lot of grey hair he moaned, “Can you imagine the fines we would have paid to have done something so stupid? And suppose the town decided that anybody that idiotic should not be permitted to clean up that mess and instead they were going to clean it up and back charge us?”
He shook his huge head and with pain continued, “And all of that would have amounted to nothing because a few years later asbestos started to become a major problem. If that crazy bastard had ever dropped that building on the street a huge cloud of dust covering the entire town would have been generated and embedded in that cloud would have been tons of asbestos. Considering when that building was built it had to be loaded with asbestos. There isn’t enough money in Fort Knox to cover that kind of catastrophe.”
His eyes started to water and he choked out, “Forget the money, what about all the people’s health we would have crushed in that village. All for a few bucks, Christ it was the luckiest day in my life when we lost that bid.”
Any of you who have read me before and for the ones that haven’t the names and places in this article has been changed to protect the guilty as well as the innocent.
But the story is true and it’s a good thing to remember when you lose a bid that you had your heart set on getting that it might have been the luckiest day in your life.
Don’t Forget: We Build America