Beating top competition from the US, Canada and Australia, South African demolition specialist Jet Demolition of Randburg was crowned ‘Best of the Best’ at the World Demolition Awards (WDA) 2020, in addition to winning the Explosive Demolition category, in an online awards ceremony on 12 November. The ‘Best of the ‘Best’ accolade is bestowed on a single entrant from all the category winners that the judges deemed to be a cut above all the rest.
“I am grateful to the committee for selecting us. It was a very difficult project indeed, but a pleasing result. I must thank the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development for awarding us the project and then thank our people who always give of their best,” says Jet Demolition Director Joe Brinkmann. “I was not expecting it, and it was a huge thrill. We are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to carry out such a once-in-a-lifetime project.”
Both awards were for the successful implosion of the 108-m-high, 31-storey Bank of Lisbon building in Johannesburg on 24 November 2019. This was not only the tallest reinforced concrete-frame building ever imploded by Jet Demolition but also one of its most complex projects ever undertaken. Respected industry figure William Moore, one of this year’s judges, commented: “I think it was the toughest job ever entered!”
Unique challenges included having the closest building a mere 8 m away. The fact that it was fire-damaged posed an incipient risk that had to be mitigated by stabilising the structure and installing an early-warning system to detect any movement, in addition to lateral support of the basement itself. All the existing furniture and personal belongings had to be cleared out, which ultimately filled 165 storage boxes, while the debris resulting from the fire had to be cleared in order to prevent any fallout from soot.
Jet Demolition took the unusual approach of implosion, as opposed to top-down mechanical demolition, which Joe points out would have been much riskier and prolonged the project. “We had to look after many critical aspects. Managing the client’s expectations and requirements, as well as neighbouring tenants, was a huge undertaking in itself, in addition to coordinating with the police and emergency services over months prior to the actual implosion.”
Being acknowledged as the ‘best of the best’ is definitely a career milestone for Joe, who notes it was 40 years ago that he undertook his first blasting course and underground blasting work in the US. “To be able to carry out a project like this and have it turn out perfectly is a culmination and a pinnacle.”
Co-founder Liz Brinkmann concurs: “It does not get better than this as far as industry recognition goes. But it is not only about recognition. What makes Jet Demolition so special is how our team inspires each other to be their very best. It is a reminder yet again that we as South Africans can achieve amazing things when we all stand together. We need to remember that and continue to be motivated by it, especially during these difficult times.”
It is the first time that Jet Demolition has won the ‘Best of the Best’ Award, placing it in the top tier of demolition experts globally. The Awards are part of the annual World Demolition Summit organised by KHL group magazine Demolition & Recycling International, in co-operation with the European Demolition Association and the National Demolition Association of the US. It is the top industry event for the demolition industry globally.
In 2019, Jet Demolition won in the Recycling and Environmental category for the safe decontamination and demolition of three redundant gold and uranium complexes. In 2018, it won in the Industrial Demolition Category for the demolition of a coal-fired boiler and ancillary equipment at Duvha Power Station in Mpumalanga. In 2017, it won for its innovative implosion of the 14-storey HG de Witt Building in Pretoria.
As for the future, Joe reveals that the project pipeline halted by the Covid-19 pandemic is slowly starting to become active again. “Those projects are piling up and we are ready for them.” Not content to rest on its laurels, Jet Demolition is currently pursuing work in the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Chile. This follows successful projects undertaken in India, Indonesia and across Africa.
“We have to keep on pursuing technical excellence. Being out there doing your job right and looking after your customers is the best form of securing your future that is possible,” emphasises Joe. Jet Demolition will also continue to invest in equipment and develop new demolition techniques. “We have just been awarded our nineteenth consecutive NOSCAR international safety award, which is testament to our pursuit of best practice in everything we do,” stresses Joe.
Jet Demolition is not only the leading demolition specialist in Africa, but the most technically-advanced as well. It has a fleet of 34 specialised demolition excavators and 44 additional items of plant, ranging from skid-steer loaders to tractors, telescopic handlers and articulated dumpers. It also has over 65 hydraulic attachments and a range of mechanical attachments.