Business literally is booming for the Loizeaux family.
The family owns Controlled Demolition, Inc., a corporation that razes structures with explosives rather than wrecking cranes. The company pioneered precision blasting, or "implosion" (because the building collapses inward instead of exploding outward), as the demolition process is known, more than 30 years ago.
Over the past five years, estimates company vice president Mark Loizeaux, business has quadrupled. Authorities once skeptical of the method -- which is considered to be faster, safer and cheaper than the traditional ball-and-crane process -- increasingly have been won over, he said.
In Chicago, which Loizeaux says was the last major American city to hold out against approving explosive demolition, CDI is scheduled to bring down a building Oct. 14.
In all, he says, the Loizeaux family have used their highly technical explosive demolition method on some 700 buildings, bridges and chimneys -- and are preparing to blow the top off a dam in Texas while leaving the base of the structure intact.
They also have done special-effects work for filmmakers and will be leveling a building for the coming movie debut of the Blues Brother, the singing team formed by "Saturday Night Live" comedians Dan Ackroyd and John Beluschi.
"With a little knowledge, what I can do with these two hands is amazing," said CDI president and founder John "Jack" Loizeaux, after the recent felling of a 14-story parking garage in Boston. "There's nothing man can build that we can't bring down."
And man-made structures aren't the only things the Loizeaux can take down: They have applied their precision blasting technique to recarving natural formations.
The Venezuelan government hired CDI to blast through 8 million cubic meters of rock to reroute the course of the Caroni River to allow for the construction of one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world.
In Marcus Hook, Pa., the firm is blasting away rock underwater to widen a supertanker berth -- just 70 feet from a berth where, undisturbed by the explosions, tankers are being unloaded.
But despite his burgeoning operation, Jack Loizeaux is quick to point out that explosive demolition "isn't half of 1 percent of the wrecking industry business."
In fact, he says, only 10 out of 100 buildings should be dropped by precision blasting. "Normally a building should be over seven stories high for us to do it -- like a warehouse or a really big building -- and it should be a really tough job, one that would be hard to do by other methods," he explained.
With explosives, the Loizeaux are able to collapse a building within seconds into a neat pile in its own cellar.