Case Studies

Zlotnick Construction Inc.

Powering through diverse construction projects with integrity

After serving in combat with the elite 17th Airborne in World War II, George Zlotnick returned home to Ashford, Conn., and founded a small construction company. Zlotnick Construction Inc. (ZCI) began as a one-man operation as George constructed small outbuildings, chicken coops and barns in the rural locality. With hard work and a dedication to quality craftsmanship, ZCI began to grow. He incorporated the business in 1958, around the time his sons, Gregory and Peter, first became involved in the family business.

Gregory assumed leadership in the company in 1973, less than a year after graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in civil engineering. Today, Gregory leads the business as president and CEO, accompanied by his sons, Peter, Michael and Gregory Jr. Additionally, Peter serves as vice president and corporate secretary, and has been working with the company since 2003.

A different kind of business

“What sets us apart,” Peter explains, “Is that we are a third-generation family-owned and -operated business. If you call our office, you can speak to me or my father; we’re both involved in nearly every aspect of the business. We care immensely about our people and our work. If we run into issues on our projects, we try to work with everybody to create a solution. Often times this has meant going into our own pocket to help share the burden of such issues. I believe this is a rarity today in our industry.”

ZCI embraces dedication to relationships. The company has an open door policy for employees, subcontractors and clients. In his leadership role, Gregory attends job meetings on a weekly basis to stay in touch with crews and subcontractors alike. Even George, at 90 years old, is still involved in the business; he still comes into the office nearly every day to check up on things.

“We really care about our work,” says Peter. “Our name is on every document we send out and we want the quality of our construction to reflect positively on us.”

With a strong reputation for quality and integrity, ZCI has become a leading contractor in the northeast United States. The commercial construction firm has established lasting relationships – some over 30 years – with a number of major clients, representing big-box retail, education and the medical sector, among others.

Staying afloat in rough waters

ZCI faced serious challenges throughout and beyond the recent economic downturn. In 2007, the company was coming off its best revenue year ever. “I had just started here full time,” Peter explains. “I was excited about our growth potential. In 2008, though, everything seemed to dry up.” The business was forced to lay off a significant amount of its staff or face closure. Since, the team has been fighting an uphill battle.

Six years later, the team has seen a slow turnaround. “If we can pay our bills, pay our employees, pay our subs and make small profit, we’re happy,” Peter says. “Hopefully we will grow back to where we were in 2007, but the economy is not supporting that yet.” Despite the challenges, ZCI is still in business and continues to turn around high quality projects for a discerning client base.

Peter credits a tradition of financial savvy. “My grandfather grew up in the Great Depression,” he elaborates. “He saves and reuses almost everything, and I think he passed that mindset to my father and my brothers and I. We have never been a family or company to splurge or live beyond our means and that mindset is the primary reason we didn’t go out of business in 2008. We saved and reinvested our profits. When our staff shrank, we all wore a lot of different hats. I don’t know how other companies have survived, but that’s how we have kept the doors open.”

The team is looking ahead to new opportunities in the coming years. Peter says he is cautiously optimistic and his team is hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. “We have discussed some projects here for over four years that the owners haven’t pulled the trigger on because of the economy and the difficulty of finding financing,” he says. “When, and if those projects finally break, they will be huge for us. The recovery hasn’t quite taken hold here yet, but when it does, we are well prepared to take on the work. We are in an awesome position to take advantage of the market when it hopefully comes back. Our adherence to our core values is unwavering; our reputation is great, and most importantly our team is the best it’s been in many years. I’m most proud of the people we have working with us.”

No matter where the coming years take the business, the Zlotnick family remains devoted to simple business practices. Furthermore, the team strives for excellence and integrity, providing quality and value to customers. Zlotnick Construction Inc. embraces a reputation for being a reliable family business, providing leading services for clients across the northeast United States.

Published on: July 21, 2014

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