Case Studies

Nooter Construction

Industrial contracting and mechanical expertise in Philadelphia and St. Louis

The history of Nooter Construction dates back to the late 1800s, when John Nooter, a sailor, arrived in the United States from Amsterdam. His experience working on ships led to a position as a rigger for John O’Brien Boiler Works in St. Louis. In 1896, he established John Nooter Boiler Works, which would eventually become Nooter Construction, a specialty contractor serving industrial clients throughout the United States.

A subsidiary of the CIC Group, Nooter Construction is based in St. Louis and includes three subsidiary companies: RMF Nooter (Toledo, Ohio), Amex Nooter (Tinley Park, Illinois), and Delta Nooter (St. Louis, Missouri). The group also has overseas presence with Nooter/Eriksen, one of the largest manufacturers of Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG) in the world. Nooter/Eriksen has an operational office in Milan, Italy, with satellite locations in the United Kingdom, Korea, Thailand, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. Most of the companies under the CIC umbrella offer specialty mechanical services and employ skilled union labor.

Peter Cimino serves as senior vice president and general manager of Nooter Construction and presides over the company’s Philadelphia office. “I started with Nooter Construction in 1988 as a superintendent,” he recounts. “I later became a contracting engineer and then a sales engineer. After that, I moved into the construction department as construction manager. Eventually, I became the company’s vice president of construction and in 2005 was promoted to senior vice president and general manager.”

Nooter ConstructionEmployee involvement

The corporation is 100 percent employee owned – an aspect of the business that Cimino says is unusual for a company of this size. “We have just under 100 people in our Philadelphia office,” he elaborates. “I believe that about 90 percent of them are shareholders, and our board is comprised entirely of CIC Group employees. You don’t find too many employee-owned companies around today.”

The Philadelphia office is home to a strong management team. Cimino works with two vice presidents: one vice president of operations and another leading the construction department. Company leadership also includes managers of safety and health, quality assurance, business development and procurement as well as rigging engineering.

The Philadelphia office is fully staffed and can handle most projects with in-house resources. Cimino says his team has the unique opportunity to pull resources from other offices and regions when larger projects need more skilled manpower. Nooter Construction can also supplement projects, having close working relationships with labor unions throughout the country.

“Our location typically takes on 1 million-plus man hours per year,” he explains. “Our largest trades are pipefitters and boilermakers and we direct-hire most trades, including iron workers, millwrights, and electrical & instrumentation workers. We subcontract specialties such as painting, insulation, asbestos removal and abatement.”

Complex projects

Over the years, the Nooter Construction team has worked on a range of diverse heavy-industrial projects. For example, the crew was involved in the Mariner East pipeline contract with Sunoco Logistics. Nooter Construction served as the general contractor responsible for civil, mechanical and electrical aspects of the pipeline, which stretched from central Pennsylvania to the greater Philadelphia area. The company was able to self-perform a significant amount of the project with direct-hire pipefitters, electricians and millwrights.

“We just completed a large railcar unloading facility project owned by the Eddystone Rail Company, which is about the heaviest thing in transport and crude oil,” says Cimino. “We worked as the general contractor there for about a year. We direct hired the pipefitters, boilermakers and millwrights, subbing out iron work, fabrication and erection. We did all the mechanical work in-house, including electrical and instrumentation.”

Industry growth

Nooter Construction has remained steady over recent years, although Cimino says the company did feel the impact of the recession. “When the economy crashed, our business really felt the downturn. In ’08 and ’09, we were looking at large capital projects and turnarounds. Throughout the recession, we diversified into maintenance contracts and multi industry work, including smaller scale jobs in the $5 million to $10 million range as opposed to the $30 million to $60 million range.”

Crude by rail is bringing the refineries back and Cimino says his team’s market has become more competitive. Nooter Construction has a strong backlog with its core business as well as several larger capital investment projects on the books. While the industry has not made a full recovery, Cimino is optimistic.

As the market grows, Nooter Construction is allocating resources to accommodate it. The business is facing new challenges, but Cimino and his colleagues are not overly concerned. With the backing of a strong corporate group and the support of several trade organizations, the company has great potential.

Cimino serves as the president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Pennsylvania. “This is a great organization,” he explains. “The MCA offers education and training to members and unions, which is one of the greatest benefits. Another would be helping build relationships with the local union building trades. Education and training has been a big focus for me. I believe education and training is the key to success. I’m on a two-year term as president, and I have served on the board since 2004. One of our goals as an organization over the coming years is to help our members regain market share in the northeast.”

Looking ahead

Cimino and his colleagues intend to keep pushing growth over the coming years. Sustainable expansion and development of the Philadelphia office is a priority and the leadership tracks key performance indicators to manage growth. Each year, the corporate group takes on short and long-term planning initiatives, setting growth goals and checking in with the various divisions and departments.

With a strong structure, Nooter Construction Company will continue to build partnerships with industrial clients, subcontractors, trade unions and other industry partners as the market improves.

Published on: August 18, 2015

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