Pile Buck’s interview with CZM Foundation Equipment, a leading foundation equipment manufacturer in North and South America.
PB: Tell us about CZM.
CZM: Since 1976, CZM has been a leader in the foundation drilling industry, offering a comprehensive line of machines engineered for every foundation application such as Drilled Shafts on a Long or Short Mast Configuration, Cylinder Crowd and Cable Crowd, Long Reach, CFA, Micropiles, and Pile Driving.
PB: Where is CZM located?
CZM: We are situated outside of Savannah, on 25 acres in Ellabell, GA. In, April of 2020, we moved into our new factory of 75,000 square feet, home to our North American Headquarters. We also have factories in Italy and Brazil as well as branches in Georgia, California, Kentucky and Texas and service centers throughout the US and Canada through our rental houses, making our service and technical support the most spread out in the industry.
PB: CZM started renting cranes, yes?
CZM: In 1976, Clo Zironi Mecanica—CZM’s original name—built its first piece of foundation equipment, a crane attachment rotary table, that was designed to drill 260 feet deep. From this first unit forward, the focus of the company would change from crane rentals to foundation equipment manufacturing.
PB: Do you still rent equipment?
CZM: Yes, we offer our full line of machines in our rental fleet with different applications throughout the US. We currently have 60 machines in our fleet and plan to keep growing it. We also partner with RPI Construction Equipment, Drillers Choice, Inc., PACO Construction Equipment, and Globoquip rental houses that carry our machines, expanding availability.
PB: What types of equipment did you start to manufacture after the CZM crane attachment rotary table?
CZM: We designed our first truck mounted drilling rig, the CD27 in 1985. This unit was a flagship product with hundreds of units sold. Then in 1987 CZM introduced its first micro pile machine, the CR12. In 1989 CZM built its first CFA machine, a crane attachment. In 2010, we built our first EK250 dedicated for the US market, and it is our current flagship line of product.
PB: In 1999 you had a breakthrough, tell us about that.
CZM: Our breakthrough was the development of the Bottom Drive CFA patent. With this patent, our machines could drill deeper than any other CFA machine in the market. Hundreds of machines have been put in operation using this technology. The company grew exponentially after that.
PB: When did CZM start selling equipment in America?
CZM: In 2002 we sold our first machine in the American Market, the TM300, a truck mounted drill rig, through its then dealer WFJ. In 2008, we sold our first crawler machine and sales really took off after 2012 with the conjunction of the launch of the EK line and the opening of the US operation.
PB: When did CZM start the development of the EK line of drill rigs?
CZM: In 2010. This line was designed exclusively for the American market focused on the needs of local contractors. A robust Kelly bar machine, convertible to short mast, made on CAT base. We exhibited the EK250 at ConExpo in 2011. This was the first time an EK was presented to the American market. At this time, we brought our partnership with Caterpillar as an OEM Drill Rig Manufacturer to North America. We are now the largest OEM Drill Rig manufacturer on Caterpillar bases in the world and the only one in North America.
PB: Then in 2012 you officially became a U.S. company.
CZM: With the success of the product and a sale of eleven EK125s to the Oil & Gas Market, CZM USA is incorporated to better service the American market. Officine Verlicchi, a traditional manufacturer of drilling rig components in Italy was also acquired.
PB: What else did CZM do to increase their presence in the U.S.?
CZM: Well, in 2013 CZM USA moved to its first factory in Pembroke, GA. In 2014 we opened a subsidiary, CFactor, to offer rentals and RPO’s (Rent with Purchase Option). Then in 2015 the CZM Texas Branch was inaugurated. In the past decade we dedicated most of our people and resources to the American market. We hired a lot of talent and currently employee 100 people in the US. The US market currently represents 3/4 of the company’s revenue.
PB: This is around the time you expanded your product line?
CZM: Yes, we expanded our product line to include all types of foundation applications applied in the American Market, such as CFA, displacement piles, micropiles, hydraulic hammer pile driving, cased CFA, and soil mixing, among others. It now has more than 30 models and keeps growing. Engineering and innovation are in our DNA. We have 25 engineers in our offices in the US, Italy, and Brazil.
PB: And you’ve kept growing your presence in the U.S.
CZM: It’s been pretty amazing. In 2020, CZM moved to its new state of the art factory in Ellabell, GA. This increased our production capacity to 100 machines per year. In 2021 we added our California Service Center. Last year, CZM announced an additional expansion to its US headquarters of 40,000 square feet to open late summer in 2023.
PB: What industries does CZM serve?
CZM: We build drilling rigs for many different applications. Although the main purpose of these machines is to build piles for the foundation of buildings, they are very versatile and can be used in fields such as transmission and power lines, utilities, landfill, and oil & gas.
PB: What do you build specifically for construction and infrastructure?
CZM: We manufacture machines for most types of foundation applications performed in general construction. Kelly bar drilling for caissons is our main product offered as a standard mast, short mast, long reach, and cable crowd.
PB: What about models for CFA?
CZM: We also have models for CFA, displacement piles, soil mixing, pile driving, micro piles, jet grouting, and cased CFA. For CFA, we offer cable crowd drill rigs with high torque, high extraction force, grout monitoring system, auger cleaners, and automatic drill and grouting features. It is an application that is growing, and we are really investing in it.
PB: How does CZM support customers after they buy your equipment?
CZM: Good question! Our customers are our number one priority and that’s why we continue to strive to offer qualified professionals providing superior after-sales service. We have spare parts on hand, ready to ship, so our customers will have minimum downtime. We have service locations throughout the country to better service contractors nationwide. With engineering in the US, customers have access to technical support locally. We also don’t shy away from stocking parts, we currently have over 30 million in inventory to support both production and after-sales.
PB: Can you troubleshoot problems remotely?
CZM: Our machines are equipped with a Telematic System that allows us to remotely log in to its main computer to troubleshoot and resolve issues.
PB: CZM reserves inventory specifically for after-sales support, yes?
CZM: Yes, because we understand it’s important to keep equipment running to reduce downtime on the jobsite, we stock parts for after-sales in all our branches.
PB: You offer repair services, yes?
CZM: We do. To help ensure minimal downtime in the field, skilled CZM technicians are on-site at all five locations, and we offer a 24-hour service line. For more complex issues, we’ll fly one of our engineers from our manufacturing headquarters in Savannah GA, to your facility or jobsite as needed.
PB: What are some of the benefits of your spare parts program?
CZM: It’s a simple system for parts inventory management that’s easy to use and allows the re-order of parts, as needed. It also allows inventory of wear items to be spread across multiple customer yards and jobsites. We have a brochure your readers can download that gives details about CZM’s after-sales support.
PB: Is CZM hiring?
CZM: We are always looking for great people to join our team. Right now, we have openings for an assembly mechanic, welder-fitter, industrial painter, and more. We encourage your readers to check out our employment page.
PB: What else should our readers know about CZM?
CZM: We are the leading manufacturer of drill rigs in North America, offering the best after-sales service, along with a huge inventory of parts, a skilled team of field technicians, and a group of technical support specialists that can help you trouble shoot any issues 24/7.