For seventy-five years, Guntert & Zimmerman (G&Z) has led the way in concrete slipform paving equipment. The company has enjoyed multiple firsts, and as a result of its ongoing investment, it has become a top name in the industry.
The G&Z story dates to 1942 when Ronald M. Guntert Sr. established a limited partnership with L.R. Zimmerman and specialty steel company, Hickinbotham Bros. Under the name Hickinbotham Bros. Construction Division, they would fulfill World War II contracts for the US Army’s Transportation Corps. The Hickinbotham partnership was so successful that it earned the Army-Navy “E” Award in 1944 for the excellence of war equipment production.
In 1948, the company officially became incorporated under the name Guntert and Zimmerman Construction Division, Inc. after Guntert and Zimmerman acquired Hickinbotham’s stake in the business. It would also add a steel division which is still in operation today.
After the war, the focus of Guntert and Zimmerman shifted to the design and manufacture of specialized canal equipment. Zimmerman would eventually leave the company in 1956, but his name was retained, as an acknowledgment of his contributions to the company.
That same year, G&Z achieved one of the most important firsts for the company: the design and manufacture of concrete slipform paving equipment for highway use. Slipform paving involves the pouring and working of concrete as the form for the concrete continuously moves. The workability of concrete married with its quick-setting nature means the result is a cast-in-place, joint-free form.
With the help of a trailblazing product – a two-lane slipform paver mounted on crawler tracks, which also featured automatic line and grade control – G&Z helped Teichert Construction become a leader in the construction industry.
Teichert Construction made history on its Highway 99 project near Manteca, California where the slipform paver was limited by the requirement that stationary forms be used. Three years later, G&Z’s highly innovative paver was finally approved for use by the California Department of Transportation and G&Z began demonstrating slipform paving possibilities nationwide and across the globe.
This change to the paving process resulted in improved contractor productivity, lower operating costs and a stronger performance overall. The equipment improved the speed at which concrete surfaces could be manufactured as well as the evenness of the surface texture.
It experienced another first in 1963 when Belgium-based S.G.M.E.-Moser was licensed to manufacture and sell its products in Europe. Europe would fondly refer to the equipment as the ‘GZ’ paver and Gailledrat was the first overseas contractor to use it on a highway project in France. Based on that application, Gailledrat once again employed G&Z’s slipform paver, this time for an airfield pavement at Orly Field.
Another first for G&Z came in 1972 when a slipform paver placed concrete pavement fifty feet wide and twenty-one inches thick. This took place at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in a joint venture with the Peter Kiewit Company and H.B. Zachry Company.
In 1979, the first slipform paver was introduced into the German market, and a year later, in 1980, S.G.M.E.-Moser added the first paver-mounted dowel bar inserter (DBI) in Switzerland. Mounting the DBI on the rear of a two-track slipform paver enabled the insertion of dowels in the concrete behind the paver. It would not be until 1987 that the first paver mounted DBI would be used in the U.S.
Almost a decade later, in 1996, the S850 slipform paver was introduced, becoming one of the most popular of its kind. Once again, the company was increasing smoothness and maneuverability, but, perhaps most importantly, it improved the ease at which the width of the paved surface could be changed. The machine was also made much easier to transport.
It was at this time that G&Z also patented two new developments ‘JC extenders’ which are “used to speed tractor width changes” and ‘Quadra Bolsters’ which are “hydraulically telescoping bolsters that connect to the crawler tracks,” according to the company’s website.
In 2001, in partnership with James Cape & Sons, a truly portable concrete batching and mixing plant was designed. It produces consistent concrete and does not need a crane or foundations to be set up.
In 2009, it introduced TeleEnds which enabled paving kit width changes to occur quickly, without the need for bolt removal, cranes or several people at a time. That same year, G&Z formed a partnership with Leica Geosystems and Flynn Construction and placed the smoothest concrete ever achieved using Leica Geosystems’s stringless guidance technology and the S850 paver.
In 2010, the S600 Concrete Slipform Paver was designed for use on city streets, secondary roads, highway and airport paving and many other applications. It would become a very popular choice for many customers over the years. As the company describes it: “The S600’s design redefines what mobility means for a small paver without sacrificing the same performance advantages contractors have come to expect from G&Z’s large and mid-size paver.”
G&Z introduced its Swing Leg (SL) or SmartLeg in 2011 that improved on-site maneuverability.
In 2013, the company came out with its equipment guidance and operation network (EGON) control system which monitors various inputs, outputs and conditions, through a convenient web-based remote user interface.
The following year, it launched the S400 multi-purpose slipform paver which can handle applications from city streets, ramps and shoulders to airports and highways. The functional design can even work with minimal clearance and all at a competitive price.
In 2015, G&Z once again celebrated a first, as it introduced the MP550 material placer that can deposit a variety of concrete types as well as dry materials. The capacity of the MP550 was significantly improved from earlier models, and the design overhaul made the machine far more maneuverable and easy to use.
Behind the trusted Guntert and Zimmerman name is a parts and service department that provides support long after the sale is completed. Not only do employees specialize in the operation of the equipment they manufacture, but they can also provide customers with guidance related to mix design analysis, job site logistics and issues related to achieving optimal surface flatness.
Employees assist in commissioning and training and offer consultation. Customers can contact technicians in the service department at any time via computer or telephone to draw from their equipment and maintenance expertise, as well as their knowledge of the concrete paving process and various construction disciplines.
When it comes to parts, customers deal directly with the manufacturer at its Ripon, California headquarters. G&Z professionals are committed to locating that part and getting it shipped the same day, reducing downtime and giving customers’ peace of mind.
The technicians, manufacturing team and engineers are industry-leading people who are dedicated to ensuring all equipment is made to specification and the highest standards of quality. Whether a piece of equipment is customized or standard, it is designed and manufactured with the same level of care, speed and accuracy.
The goal is always to make its customers as productive as possible by listening intently to what their needs are and translating those into solutions that address challenges and streamline processes.
The company has had success in developing great industry relationships over the past seventy-five years. It is through a commitment to delivering unparalleled equipment solutions to its customers that it has been able to foster relationships with some of the leading names in the market, such as its three-decade-long relationship with Lane Construction Company.
Lane and G&Z first came together in 1987 when the S1000 paver with DBI was selected for use on a significant I-80 concrete overlay project. Without question, the equipment delivered the desired, and since then, the relationship has grown.
Another productive relationship is with Austin Bridge and Road which employed the S600 on its Austin Bergstrom International Airport expansion project which relied on the S600’s patented paving kit features.
The Dutch contractor Roos Group used G&Z’s S600 paver on the 190,000-square-meter Couvin project in 2016, one of the most important motorway investments in Belgium’s history. The S600 precisely placed and finished the highway’s top layer.
Each of these relationships exemplifies what G&Z has made possible through the design, development and manufacture of highly innovative equipment and technology. Equipment is built to last in some of the harshest conditions of transport and reconfiguration.
G&Z has the ability to drive change into the future with its next generation contributions and wants to meet current customer requirements while it works to determine upcoming needs. That is the true spirit of innovation that has driven success over the past seventy-five years and shows promise for the future.