C.H. Nickerson & Company Inc.
- Written by: Ivy Carter
- Produced by: Joe Atwood
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Brian Nickerson, chairman at C.H. Nickerson & Company Inc. (Nickerson), is proud to head the self-performing general contractor, which is based in Torrington, Conn. “This isn’t my first rodeo,” jokes Brian. The third generation of family management at Nickerson, 60-year-old Brian has been in this business since he was 11 years old, and he now leads a family business that maintains a 74-year track record of success as one of the most well-known contractors in New England.
From the beginning it has been a family affair. Brian’s grandfather and father founded the company in 1939. Brian’s grandfather was a professional engineer and surveyor, while his father had in-depth construction knowledge. With these combined skills the Nickersons began working as a general contractor in the public arena on schools and office buildings. Sticking with tradition, fourth-generation Jason Nickerson is currently involved in the company’s marketing, advertising and web development.
John Miller, current president of Nickerson, leads the company’s 300 employees during the peak summer season. Nickerson’s roster fluctuates down to 175 employees during the off-season; however, the level of service remains the same year-round. The company primarily serves Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but has the capacity to reach New York and New Hampshire, as well.
A Niche in New England
Today the company has moved toward the private sector, working on water treatment plants and heavy infrastructure. Nickerson believes in a healthy dose of young talent, which is demonstrated through the company’s ability to self-perform the majority of its work. Nickerson self-performs all site work and process piping, with the exception of electrical installations and painting. “We run the whole gamut on most projects,” explains Brian.
The company’s other advantage lies in necessity. “There are two things people need,” says Brian. “That’s clean water and a place to put waste.” When this type of structure wears out it must be replaced or repaired, and that is where Nickerson comes in.
One of Nickerson’s largest operations is the $93 million renovation of the Mattabassett District’s Water Pollution Control Facility in Cromwell, Conn. Nickerson broke ground on the project in June 2012 and is scheduled to complete it in 2015. The facility serves 170,000 ratepayers in New Britain, Cromwell, Rocky Hill, Farmington, Newington and Middletown.
Nickerson is working to enhance the facility’s ability to remove nitrogen from water being discharged from the plant. Over the course of the next three years, the existing nitrogen tanks will undergo upgrades and a new $5 million nitrogen tank will be installed. These tanks will prevent dangerous nitrogen from being released into the Long Island Sound each year, reducing algae growth and damaging aquatic life. Nickerson will complete this process while the plant remains fully operational.
Nickerson is also currently invested in the $62 million Newport Water Treatment Plant in Newport, R.I. In partnership with the Aecom design-build team, Nickerson must replace the Lawton Valley Water Treatment plant and renovate station number one.
The facility treats 7 million gallons of water a day, supplying water to Newport and the greater area, which hosts a large population, along with the U.S. Naval Air Station. The new facility will increase efficiency, allowing the plant to treat over 8 million gallons a day. Upon completion, both facilities will use advanced carbon-filtration technology, significantly reducing the level of organic compounds found in the water and lowering the amount of chlorine needed in the disinfection process.
By reducing chlorine emissions and other harsh chemicals, Nickerson strives to provide cleaner drinking water and green solutions. The rehabilitation of wastewater treatment facilities ensures healthier lakes and rivers will be maintained for future generations.
Despite many ongoing successful projects, Nickerson has witnessed its share of economic hardship, and the company has fought to combat the recession. “You have to be competitive and work smarter to get work,” explains Brian. “It makes it easier knowing that we have a lot of good, experienced people. This isn’t a market you can just jump into.” As long as the client is happy and the job gets done ahead of schedule, it’s a success.
The company has remained in business for three quarters of a century by basing all operations on a family foundation of integrity and a respected reputation for honest dealings throughout New England. It is evident that the company values its employees, who work hard every day. “We just don’t see a lot of people leave,” says Brian. “We pay our people well because they deserve it.” Focusing on the details-oriented contracting it does best, C.H. Nickerson & Company Inc. will continues to thrive into the future.
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