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Spring 2009

Developers Journal



AIS CONSTRUCTION National Association of Tower Erectors

Making Hard-to-Reach Accessible Produced by Suzanne Mason & Written by Shelley Seyler The seeds of AIS Construction were planted when president and founder Andy Sheaffer began doing operated equipment rentals in 1997. Seeing a need for Spyder excavators to work in difficult-to-access locations, Andy founded AIS in 1998 to fill this void. Headquartered in Carpinteria, California, the company serves as a civil contractor in all 50 states, completing steep slope drilling and excavating, marine construction and dredging, drilling and grouting, wetland restoration, rock placement and bridge construction. The company’s specialization: jobs in hard-to-reach locations.

Roots for Success Andy’s drive to try something new and challenging stems



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directly from his childhood. “[Our success] is really a result of always being given encouragement as a kid. My parents allowed me to do and try things I was interested in and that has carried on into work. We are always looking at different types of projects and trying to approach them from a slightly unconventional way…That is the biggest reason we have been successful.” With approximately 45 employees and annual revenues of $20 million, AIS keeps operators, laborers, high scalers and carpenters in house, relying on subcontractors for electrical and mechanical work. “As we have improved our procurement process, our profit growth has improved,” said Andy when asked about the importance of managing the company’s supply chain. AIS looks for tough jobs that other companies shy away from, performing 75 percent of their projects in the commercial sector and 25 percent in the residential or private sector.

AIS has unique traits that allow the company to offer one-of-a-kind services to clients. “We concentrate on difficult projects, any that are logistically challenged… We developed the ability to perform projects efficiently where other companies struggle,” explained Andy. Taking a proactive and innovative approach to these challenging projects, AIS has developed their own machines that are capable of working in very hard-to-reach places where many think work is impossible. Their other niche is their ability to

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Rockfall Barriers Rockfall Drapes Debris Flow Barriers Slope Stabilization Systems Avalanche Prevention Structures Security Applications Special Applications It is the task of our engineers and partners to analyze the problem together with you in detail and then along with local consultants, to present solutions. Painstaking planning is not the only thing you can expect from us, however. Since we have our own production plant and support staff throughout the USA, we can offer not only efficient delivery, but also optimal local customer service. With the goal of trouble-free project execution, we deliver pre-assembled and clearly identified system components right to the construction site, and provide installation support as needed. Our systems have been approved by federal, state and local agencies. Working with experienced and specialized contractors such as AIS Construction, many hundreds of our systems have been installed throughout North America over the past 50 years.

install ground support anchors, micro piles, and other geotechnical construction on difficult sites.

Customized Equipment Integral to AIS’ ability to complete these projects is their use of a fleet of Spyder walking excavators. As the only company in the United States to own such a fleet, this is what allows the company to work in extreme conditions, on mountain sides, and in coastal environments. Invented in Europe, Spyder walking excavators were designed to do just the work AIS tackles: steep slopes and mountain tops. Living up to their name, these machines are able to conform to any terrain, remaining stable in uneven positions on slippery terrain. To enhance the abilities of this fleet, AIS has developed


US Developers Journal

Spring Edition 2009

a range of attachments for its Spyders including drills, grapple buckets, mulchers, mowers, breakers and pile drivers. This unique equipment enables AIS to install large diameter, high capacity anchors in sensitive areas with minimal disturbance to the surrounding environment. AIS can regularly complete work on 80 to 100 percent slopes and has performed on slopes as steep as 130 percent. AIS also has a fleet of cranes that are used as high-reach drill and tool carriers. AIS-developed attachments enable the cranes to reach more than 200 feet and perform high production drilling and anchor installation in very difficult environments. One project that best exemplifies AIS Construction’s abilities was their work in the Presidio of San Francisco for the Presidio Trust. AIS removed 73,000 tons of hazardous waste from a steep hillside within a sensitive eco-habitat.

days each week, AIS finished the job on schedule, despite the discovery of an additional 35,000 tons of waste that was not planned for.

Facing the Challenges “You just have to take life one step at a time. Find something you enjoy doing and figure out how to become successful at it rather than trying to find a way to make money,” advised Andy. With this grounded outlook, Andy is hoping to continue to grow AIS and diversify the company into different sectors. “We will take on bigger projects and keep on growing,” predicted an optimistic Andy. Completed in 2007, the purpose of the project was to remove building debris, soil and incinerator ash that had been deposited by the U.S. Army between 1900 and 1970. AIS served as prime contractor and used its Spyder excavators to perform grading and waste removal on the steepest parts of the site that could not be accessed by alternative equipment. Working between six and seven

In just over 10 years, the company has grown from their initial geographical footprint of southern California to completing projects in nearly every state in the nation. This speaks wonders not only for Andy’s ability to institute these innovative ideas successfully, but also for the company’s future place in their industry.

COMPANY AT A GLANCE Established: 1998 Annual Revenue: $20,000,000 President: Andy Sheaffer

US Developers Journal

Srping Edition 2009



developers Journal

Winter 2009 Spring 2009

AIS CONSTRUCTION 6420 Via Real # 6 Carpinteria, CA 93013 United States



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