Grace Industries LLC
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Victor Martins
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Bill Haugland founded Grace Industries LLC (Grace) in 2007, and the growing business continues to provide civil construction services to governmental agencies within a 70-mile radius of New York City today. Grace is not Bill’s first business; the entrepreneur owns a series of companies under his holding company, The Haugland Group.
After selling his previous business – a company specializing in electrical and infrastructure construction – Bill was ready to branch into the civil market. Bill’s experience as a business owner, contractor and union cardholder has allowed him unique insight into New York’s construction market.
Bill is now mostly retired and lives in Florida; however, the company remains in good hands. Bill’s sons, William Haugland Jr. “Bill Jr.” and Joseph Haugland, operate Grace as vice presidents, alongside John Reynolds, CFO, as well as Richard Neugebauer, COO.
“Much of Grace’s management has worked for Bill for over a decade,” John explains. “We are a young company, yet have a seasoned management team with a proven success rate with startup construction companies. Considering Grace has only been around for six years, we have experienced steady, consistent growth and surpassed $100 million in annual sales in 2013.”
Never Mind the Recession
The mid-2000s were a tough time in the New York construction industry and John recalls the difficulty of breaking into the market. “The first few years were financially and operationally challenging,” he explains. “The heavy highway civil construction market is mature in our region with established companies. We had the prior experience of operating a union shop, and with the purchase of an asphalt plant located in Queens, the company was poised for entry into the heavy highway civil market. All in all, I think we have done quite well.”
Despite the challenges, especially competition in the market, the Grace team refused to compromise throughout the downturn. “We made a conscious decision not to underbid our projects,” says John. “We stuck to our discipline of bidding at the right price.”
The strategy has paid off over time. While the team did not experience immediate growth, Grace maintained stability. In the years following the downturn, the business has increased manpower in the field and office staff steadily.
“As we were successful at winning and executing work, we continued to make an investment in key personnel and equipment, and in turn continued to grow,” John elaborates. “We are fortunate to be well capitalized and have maintained excellent relationships with banks and bonding companies. We are also signatory to local and international unions, which gives us the ability to employ a skilled workforce and go after challenging projects.”
Grace has expanded to include two Long Island locations, an office and a warehousing facility. The company’s centralized location allows the team to work in Long Island, New York City, Westchester County and as far north as southern Duchess County.
Grace was involved with the cleanup effort of Hurricane Sandy, and more than a year later, the team is still performing contracts to clean up the storm’s wake of destruction. “We are currently working at Fire Island rebuilding the dunes as part of a beach erosion restoration plan,” John explains. “In addition, we recently completed rebuilding the city of Long Beach’s boardwalk on Long Island, destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. The entire boardwalk washed away. This was one of our largest projects for the year with an aggressive construction schedule of 180 days. The project was completed on time and on budget.”
Grace has also been involved with a number of heavy highway projects over the years. Recently, the company rebuilt an overpass on Northern State Parkway and widened Route 110. “We had to demolish the original bridge and build an entirely new structure,” John elaborates. “That project earned us the Project of the Year Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers; we value-engineered the contract, saving the state money and time. The project originally was designed for three phases of construction, which required us to switch traffic patterns each time.”
John notes that the project presented its challenges. “In order to maintain consistent traffic flow, we redesigned the project, installing temporary bridges to act as a bypass for the parkway,” he continues. “This allowed us to demolish the existing structure over the course of one weekend and gave us the ability to build the new elevated structure within a closed work zone. This was safer for our employees and the community.”
According to John, the team tackled the project in 2011 with a projected completion date in late 2014; however, the project was substantially completed in fall 2013. “Completing ahead of schedule was welcomed by the community, especially the Canon camera company that just opened its U.S. headquarters along this busy road bringing 1,400 jobs to the area,” John continues. Grace worked diligently and efficiently to address traffic congestion issues on the roadway with the increased number of individuals commuting to the area.
With a strong team and an impressive portfolio, Grace is adapting for continued steady growth. Bill Jr. notes that there is still infrastructure rehabilitation and upgrade work from Hurricane Sandy and his team will be actively bidding these projects throughout the upcoming year.
Above all else, Bill Jr. credits the capabilities and loyalty of Grace’s employees, citing the team’s dedication throughout immediate hurricane cleanup, complicated civil projects and taxing roadwork. The team has plans to focus on diversifying its services to include electrical construction contracting, a materials supply division, as well as marine based terminals in the coming years. With a diverse set of services and a lasting reputation for integrity, Grace Industries LLC presses on at the forefront of civil and infrastructure construction in New York.
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