Case Studies

HJ Foundation Co.: Record-setting Full-service Foundation Experts

  • Written by: HJ Foundation Co.: Record-setting Full-service Foundation Experts
  • Produced by: HJ Foundation Co.: Record-setting Full-service Foundation Experts
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After 25 years in business HJ Foundation Co. (HJ Foundation) has developed its own trademarked slogan: mile of pile. HJ Foundation’s slogan refers to the company’s ability to install over a mile worth of pile in a single shift with a single rig. The Florida-based company reaches several corners of the nation, specializing in deep foundations in the private building sector. Speed and full-service capabilities set HJ Foundation apart from others in the industry, ensuring the company stood out for almost a quarter century.

Founded in 1988 by Ed Hickey and Bob Johnson, HJ Foundation took roots by capturing about 70 percent of the market share in South Florida. In 2007 Keller, one of the world’s largest ground engineering specialists, purchased HJ Foundation.

This acquisition opened avenues for the company to expand all over the U.S. HJ Foundation has offices in Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, Baltimore, New York, New Orleans and Houston. With offices in many major cities, HJ Foundation connects its 120 professionals with clients as far east as Wyoming and as north as Illinois and New York.

“We pride ourselves on being the fastest, most reliable full-service deep contractor,” says Frank Fonseca, president of HJ Foundation. Fonseca understands the ins and outs of the business; he grew up in a family-owned construction company. Fonseca joined the HJ Foundation team in 1999 after earning his MBA and a master’s degree in engineering while gaining most of his foundation experience on the job. Originally, Fonseca was hired to bring an innovative perspective: leading HJ Foundation into the next millennium with a new strategy. Today, 14 years later, Fonseca still guides the expanding company.

Digging Deeper

HJ Foundation’s success is due to a constant dedication to quality and an innovative nature. “It’s not very often you see a full-service, deep foundation contractor,” explains Fonseca. “It’s just not common.”

It’s also not common to set nine recent world records, but HJ Foundation has. “We’ve set records in pile diameters, lengths, capacity and load tests,” states Fonseca. At the luxurious private residences in Miami – known as the Mansions at Acqualina – the company set a world record for the largest piles, drilling 155 feet into the ground in a single stroke. “We’re always pushing the envelope, increasing capacity to bring down the cost of foundations for our clients,” explains Fonseca.

The company offers a wide range of services, but specializes in heavy structures, mainly high rises, upscale residences and casinos for private clients. HJ foundation installs some of the world’s largest, deepest and highest capacity augered piles, even in areas with limited headroom and access. Powerful equipment, tools and some of the most trained talent in the business allow the company to install piles as large as 42 inches in diameter deep into the earth. These piles offer load capacities as high as 1,800 tons per pile.

HJ Foundation also provides displacement piling, necessary in certain soil conditions and sheet piling. Sheet piling requires a shoring system with overlapping uniform sections of steel in varying gauges, forms and strengths. HJ foundation can design and install a shoring system and tremie steels that meet appropriate safety specs.

HJ Foundation’s tall achievements demand deep support. The magnitude of each job the company works on requires precision and expertise, and it’s no surprise there are often many challenges. The Marina Blue in Miami, Fla., is a 692-foot-high, 60-story curvilinear structure, which required 300 30-inch diameter piles placed 122-feet deep. This project utilized some of the largest augercast piles in the market.

While the Majestic Star Casino and parking garage in Pittsburgh, Pa., required the company to install over 1,700 piles during the peak of winter. The HJ Foundation team successfully built the base of the casino ahead of schedule with zero safety incidents.

Superb Speed

HJ foundation is referred to as the “ghost” in the industry, because the job gets done and crews are out of the client’s way fast. HJ Foundation’s contractors perform all logistics with a critical path in mind, finding the best way to get a client moving ahead of schedule. The speed of production is one of the company’s key performance indicators. The project must be done efficiently so owners can start building.

This is where the company’s slogan – mile of pile – comes into play. “It’s a very big deal inside the industry,” explains Fonseca. “Although we compete with other companies all across the world, we’re the only ones doing 60 100-foot piles in a single day.”

On top of a highly productive team, HJ Foundation self-performs 100 percent of its work. “We do everything,” says Fonseca. “Each region has a set of trusted suppliers we use. We spend a lot of time managing these relationships to ensure we get good service.” The company hasn’t had an employee lost time to injury in over five years. “We closely track safety performance,” adds Fonseca. “It’s mandatory for managers to visit jobsites and interact with the field crew to make sure everyone is productive and safety minded.”

Over the course of the past few years, the economy has taken a toll on the company. With 90 percent of revenue in its home market lost, HJ Foundation has fought back by diversifying geographically and keeping key people. “We’ve had minimal layoffs,” says Fonseca. “Instead of laying our people off, we gave them the responsibility to come up with ways to be competitive.”

Despite the economic crunch Fonseca remains positive that HJ Foundation Co. will continue to capture the market share in the Southeast and maintain the best safety record in the foundation industry.

Published on: April 19, 2013

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