In the competitive Houston construction market, AYG Construction has made a name as a trusted commercial excavation, site and earthwork subcontractor over the last 33-plus years in business. Founded in 1983 by Eddie Golan, the family-owned firm is a strong and stable, well established and well connected player in the Houston market — and AYG has done it all through word-of-mouth business. The company has been operating without a website and little advertising help since inception.
After Eddie’s passing in January 2014, his son, Asaf Golan stepped up from vice president to president to fill his father’s shoes and carry on the company. Asaf came to the U.S. with his family when he was just 8 years old. “I didn’t know English or the culture; I went to school and then to college, but I was always working for the family business, since I was 14,” he says. “I learned a lot from my father and I’m thankful to carry on his legacy.”
A close-knit team at the core
Today AYG has more than 65 employees, operating throughout the greater Houston area. “Many of our key employees have been here for 30 years or more,” says Asaf. “We really look for people with heart —people who truly care.”
Asaf, who worked as a field laborer starting out, knows firsthand the dedication of AYG’s team. “We have a close team, grounded in family values,” he says. “Our employees are not temporary workers; they’re here to be a part of the family. Because of this, they really work well together.”
AYG makes a point to offer opportunities for advancement and employee education. “Last year we started offering English classes for our Spanish speaking employees,” says Asaf. “This will help them advance and be promoted from operator to foreman, superintendent and so on. The language can component can be a struggle — I know — so this is an important opportunity. It is up to them to grab it. This year we started a leadership program.”
Starting high-profile projects off on the right foot
A great deal of AYG’s excavation, earthwork and grading jobs come from medical centers, but recently the company has played a significant role in the William P. Hobby International Airport expansion project in Houston and the new Glassell School of Art Museum. “We’re really known for putting the general contractor ahead of schedule in the beginning so the job starts off on the right foot,” says Asaf. “This helps mitigate loss and avoid delays, which are bound to happen at some point.”
Led by Hensel Phelps Construction, the expansion and renovation expands the 80-year-old airport to incorporate modern amenities and accommodate increased airport traffic. Working in conjunction with Hensel Phelps, AYG was tasked to finish multiple early phases of the Hobby expansion project, including the apron (aircraft parking area), a passenger parking lot, terminal expansion and terminal satellite/luggage processing center.
“At the time of construction, this was the largest ongoing excavation in Houston with lots of problem-solving due to the ongoing airport operations,” adds Asaf.
AYG also broke ground on-site work at the new Glassell School of Art Museum in November 2015 and will be part of the two- to –three year timeline on the project. This master plan for the Museum’s campus transformation includes two new buildings; a new conservation center and a landscape plan that ties together a century’s worth of signature architectural structures. The redevelopment plan includes the removal of the original Glassell School of Art building, previously at 5101 Montrose Boulevard, and the construction of a new building designed by Steven Holl Architects.
Another landmark project for AYG was the Marquis Marriot Hotel, which is schedule to be completed for the Super Bowl in 2017.
Navigating new jobsite technology
AYG continues to land large-scale, high-profile projects due to its dedication to timelines, budgets and jobsite safety. As more jobsite technology emerges that promises to streamline the process, Asaf says he is wary of some of the tools, over AYG’s traditional methods that work well for the project team. “Everything is going to a smartphone,” he says. “And we just got rugged ones for our field personnel. The main problem is the constant changes in technologies. One year it’s this expensive thing, the next year it’s a dinosaur and no longer supported. I am trying to figure out where it will all lead to in the end, and what technology is really the best for us in the long term.”
Along with new technology, AYG is working to foster the next generation of employees. “We’re training the new guard so to speak by bringing them up through the old guard, teaching them our philosophy and preparing them for the future. I was always looking ahead and planning for the future,” he says. “That’s why my father entrusted the company to me.”
Asaf says his definition of success is happiness; happy employees and a happy work-life balance. “My twins — a boy and a girl — were born last year,” he shares. This has been a big focus for him, as well as leading AYG into the future.
After 33 years in operation, AYG Construction continues a tradition of excellence in excavation, site preparation, earth work, and underground utility contracting in greater Houston.
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