Case Studies

Cruz Contractors LLC

Diverse heavy construction services along the Eastern Seaboard

Cruz Contractors LLC (CRUZ) is a member-owned and -operated heavy construction contractor based in Holmdel, N.J. Founded in 1951 by Evaristo Cruz Sr., CRUZ is in its third generation of family ownership. The company’s current ownership is in the hands of two of the founder’s children, Maria G. Clemente and Licinio “Lee” Cruz, managing member, as well as 10 key employees of the predecessor company, Cruz Construction Corp., which includes: Antonio Cardoso, general manager, as well as Franco Cangialosi and Jose Salgado, managing members, in addition to Augusto Castanheira, Jose Rodrigues, Manuel O. dos Santos, Daniel Figueiredo, Antonio Alves, Eduardo Gomes and Eugenio Afonso.

The business has grown exponentially over its 60-year history, working for a diverse client base. The company has clients ranging from public works to local governments, the Army Corps of Engineers and the departments of transportation for several states, among others.

Taking on diverse challenges

“The business is interesting because it is under the ground,” explains Dominic Pillari, chief project manager for CRUZ. “You never know what you are going to find. It is never boring; every job is a little different.”

CRUZ specializes in heavy highway construction and underground utility work. Much of the company’s work is in New York, which often consists of open cut pipe work, pipe on piles and micro-tunneling. Outside the New York City area, CRUZ has been busy with underground piping work, as well as bridges, dams and roadwork.

Over the years the company has been involved in a number of diverse projects. In 2011, CRUZ earned recognition from Trenchless Technology Magazine as New Install Project of the Year for work on the East Boston Branch Sewer. The 113-year-old wastewater system required a major upgrade.

“Innovative practices allowed CRUZ to complete the project within a tight timeframe of two years, without disrupting city streets more than necessary,” says Cardoso. The upgrade resulted in a 79-percent reduction by volume in combined sewer overflows to Chelsea Creek and Boston Harbor.”

CRUZ is currently involved in work at Willets Point, adjacent to the Mets’ Citi Field in Queens, N.Y. “That is the kind of work we fit into easily,” Pillari notes. “We are in the restoration stages as of now, performing the infrastructure part of the Willets Point redevelopment. We have installed 2,300 lf of 36-inch sanitary sewer on piles from the Grand Central Parkway right at exit 9E. The pipeline goes through the Citi Field parking lot and comes out onto 126th street. The other part was the 126th street storm sewer, this was basically to provide drainage, and it flows out to Flushing Bay. We installed 1,100 lf of 7.5-inch by 5-inch box culvert on 126th Street to 36th Ave.

The company is also currently working for NYC-DDC in Staten Island, N.Y. “Two projects that involve the replacement of water mains, storm and sanitary sewers constructed with a variety of installation methods, such as open cut, pipe on piles and micro-tunneling,” explains Pillari. “In addition, the projects include construction of best management practices.”

The company started a major project in New Jersey for the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission in 2013. The project runs from Paterson, N.J., to Clifton and involves performing major rehabilitation of the existing lines, utilizing a range of resources to perform the task safely and efficiently. “The project encompasses slip-lining some old sewers, as well as some cured-in-place pipework,” Pillari elaborates. “The contract will involve some elaborate bypass pumping, as well.”

Building lasting partnerships

CRUZ strives to foster longstanding relationships with clients, suppliers and strategic partners alike. Therefore, the company abides by a simple philosophy of integrity, providing quality work in a timely fashion at a competitive price. Whether working directly for a client or under a general contractor such as Tudor Perini, the team aims for repeat business. With strategic partners, relationships are location-based. Still, CRUZ has established a small network of repeat strategic partners that the team knows it can rely on.

With these connections across the industry, CRUZ is on a trajectory of controlled growth. “As far as work, our continuing goal is to find the right kind of work for us,” Pillari says. “We have stopped restricting ourselves geographically so we can take on better opportunities where we know we can succeed.”

For 2014, CRUZ has a long list of projects in the pipeline. With utility rehabilitation work and heavy construction projects on the horizon, CRUZ is busy, which Pillari notes is a good problem to have. “CRUZ’s owners have confidence in its strong team of about 120 employees, a crew that works well together through all of the challenges,” Pillari continues. “I like the people. It is really like a family here.” As the company moves forward to confront the coming challenges, Cruz Contractors LLC remains a family business both in structure and in presence.

Published on: July 22, 2014

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