(L-R) are Joe Salgado, project manager; Antonio “Tony” Cardoso, field operation manager; Dominic Pillari, chief project manager; and Francesco Cangialosi, chief estimator for Cruz Contractors LLC.
When Lee Cruz considered retirement in 2006, he wondered what would become of his company. Founded in 1951 by his father, Evaristo Cruz Sr., Cruz Construction Corp. had built a proud legacy of achievement. Known for his high standards and strong convictions, Evaristo Cruz Sr. passed away in 1997, the same year he was inducted into the New Jersey Construction Hall of Fame for his many contributions to the construction industry. By the time Lee Cruz took the company reins that year, Cruz Construction was widely known for its far-ranging expertise across multiple disciplines. From subway and highway construction, to complex water treatment and dam reconstruction projects, to pioneering new micro-tunneling technologies in the Northeast, Cruz Construction had left its unmistakable mark of excellence from Boston to the Carolinas.
As part of the construction team that built the Boston, Massachusetts Subway, Cruz constructed the Orange Line. In New Jersey, the company reconstructed the J.F. Kennedy Boulevard in Union City by raising it over Route 495. Staten Island, N.Y., is where the company performed much of its early micro-tunneling work, with contracts reaching as far south at the Cape Fear River, in North Carolina, where the micro-tunneling process was used to install two pipelines beneath the riverbed.
Throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, Cruz built a reputation for taking on complex projects that often require expertise beyond the capability of many construction companies. At the Round Valley Reservoir in Clinton Township, N.J., Cruz constructed the much-viewed water intake and discharge structure at the Round Valley State Recreational Area. The company also built a major water treatment facility at the Manasquan Reservoir in southern Monmouth County, N.J. With the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Oakland, N.J., Cruz worked on the reconstruction of the Pompton Lakes Dam that “saved millions of dollars in (flood) damages,” according to the corps’ analysis.
Like all great companies, Cruz Construction has been an incubator for budding entrepreneurs in the construction industry. Juan Gutierrez of Northeast Remsco Construction, Eddie Cruz of E.E. Cruz & Company, Evaristo G. “Risto” Cruz of Cruz Enterprises, LLC, Andre Ameer, part-owner of EIC Associates — to name a few — worked for Cruz Construction, a place where talent gets nurtured for future success in the industry. At the top of that list is Lee Cruz, founder and managing member of Cruz Contractors LLC.
Cruz Contractors LLC
In 2006, with no family member to take over Cruz Construction, and not wanting the legacy of the business to pass away, Lee Cruz did what any good mentor would do. He offered key employees the opportunity to form a new company, consolidating decades of knowledge, expertise and innovation into another successful enterprise.
Under Lee Cruz’s guidance — and the leadership of his long-time associate, Tony Cardoso — Cruz Contractors LLC was born. Key employees were offered partnerships, and Cruz Contractors quickly won major contracts in New Jersey, New York, Maryland and throughout the Northeast. Over the past five years, revenues have topped $25 to $30 million annually.
“Currently we have $100 million in contracts,” said Tony Cardoso, managing member and manager of field operations. “That’ll put us at $40 to $50 million in size over the next two years.” As part of its current growth plan, the company is expanding the workforce by about 35 percent, from 75 employees to more than 100.
With six micro-tunneling projects currently underway, Cruz is among the elite contractors in the field. Micro-tunneling is a highly technical process using complex equipment operated by sophisticated computers and trained personnel. Contractors use micro-tunneling to dig tunnels as small as 12 in. (30 cm) and as large as 14 ft. in (4.3 m) diameter without having to dig trenches. The process is used primarily for utility work — sewer, water and electric — in highly populated areas to help minimize open-trench construction, thus reducing traffic congestion and disruption to pedestrian movement.
Trenchless Technology magazine recently named one of Cruz’s projects the “2011 Trenchless Technology Project of the Year for New Installation.”
As part of Boston’s efforts to clean up Boston Harbor, the $90 million East Boston Branch Interceptor Relief Sewer Project was created to replace and rehabilitate 4.5 mi. (7.2 km) of sewer system in a densely populated neighborhood. Hired by general contractor Barletta Heavy Division, and working for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Cruz Contractors used its micro-tunneling expertise to help MWRA reduce combined sewer overflows in and around Boston.
According to Trenchless Technology (Oct. 2011): The main construction contract consisted of 2.5 mi. (4 km) of 24 to 66 in. (61 to 168 cm) diameter relief sewer primarily by micro-tunneling and in-line micro-tunneling with limited open cut excavation. …Cruz Contractors LLC…used 19 shafts (seven jacking shafts, eight receiving shafts, four jacking/receiving shafts) varying in depth from 20 to 50 ft. (6 to 15 m)…MWRA, Barletta and Cruz Contractors worked together to coordinate utility relocations and develop modifications to finished structures to reduce utility impacts at shaft and open cut excavations. Some conflicting utilities, most notably vital electric and communication duct banks (with relevance to Logan International Airport), could not be relocated without significant potential schedule delays to the micro-tunneling work. In the end, Cruz was able to delete four shafts and make field adjustments to the locations of six other shafts to avoid more extensive utility relocations.
More than 12,000 ft. (3,658 m) of micro-tunnel was completed through varying geologic conditions. Pipe materials used were 48-in. (122 cm) diameter reinforced concrete pipe (RCP), 66-in. (168 cm) centrifugally cast fiber reinforced polymer mortar (CCFRPM) and 48- in. RCP with a 36-in. (91 cm) diameter PVC slip lining.
Other recent micro-tunneling projects included the installation of 66,000 ft. (20,117 m) of a 24-in. water main for the Dutchess County Water and Wastewater Authority in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; a micro-tunnel installation under the Northeast Corridor Railroad in Linden, N.J.; ongoing installation of 2,200 linear ft. (671 m) .of 48-in. steel casing by micro-tunneling at 15 railroad crossings for the MTA-LIRR East Side Access Project in Queens, N.Y.; a micro-tunnel installation of 760 ft. (232 m) of 30-in. (76 cm) sanitary sewer interceptor in a 48-in. casing under the New Jersey Turnpike and Conrail Tracks in the Borough of Carteret; installation of 560 ft. (171 m) of 48-in. force main, and 290 ft. (88 m) of 48-in. force main in a 66-in. casing, by micro-tunneling under the N.J. Transit Railroad at the 18th Street Pumping Station in Queens, N.Y.; an $11 million contract recently awarded by the Baltimore DPW for the installation of 4,120 ft. (1,256 m) (2,500 ft. [762 m] micro-tunneled) of sanitary sewers ranging from 8 to 54 in. (20 to 137 cm) as part of the Herring Run Interceptor Project; an $11 million contract for NYC — DDC (Dept. of Design and Construction),Woodrow Road Improvements for the installation of sewers (1,800 ft. (549 m) micro-tunneled) and low bidder on a $22 million contract for NYC-DDC, Richmond Valley Road improvements for the installation of sewers (2,300 ft. [701 m] micro-tunneled). And the list is certain to grow.
Utilities, Roads and Bridges
Cruz Contractors also has earned a lasting reputation for excellence in the construction of utilities, roads and bridgework. In Queens, for example, the company is working a $17 million infrastructure contract for a middle-income housing development that includes grading, installation of water mains and sanitary sewers, as well as sidewalks, pavements and traffic control devices. At Willets Point, also in Queens, Cruz is working two contracts valued at more than $35 million for the construction of a new pile-supported storm sewer/outfall, as well as abandoning and hydraulically filling an existing 60-in. (152 cm) sewer, and a new pile-supported 36-in. gravity sanitary sewer through Citi Field parking lot.
With numerous similar contracts in hand, Cruz relies on its in-house know-how combined with reliable equipment. For micro-tunneling, the company owns three Herrenknecht Control Containers, four Herrenknecht Micro-Tunnel Machines that vary in size from 48 to 72 in. Diameter, two Derrick Separation Systems and a variety of support equipment — generators, slurry pumps and grout pumps. At every construction site, Cruz depends on its fleet of Cat equipment for efficiency and productivity. “We do our own pile driving with an attachment that I developed and patented, and we mount it to a Cat 345 excavator,” said Cardoso, who prefers the flexibility, performance and control of the Cat 345 for excavating and pile driving.
With its impressive lift capacity, the 345 easily moves large micro-tunneling equipment in and out of the ground, too.
In all, Cruz owns 28 pieces of Cat equipment, said Cardoso, including excavators, loaders and dozers. The company has been doing business with Foley, Inc. for 50 years, almost since the day Foley first opened its doors.
“We use our Cat equipment for a long time, relying on our maintenance shop and the Foley support team,” said Cardoso. For parts or technical support, Cardoso knows he can rely on Foley for quick turnaround and dependable service. “Foley is always there and available to us, helping us out whenever we need them.”
Appreciation and respect goes both ways, said Scott Warren, heavy equipment sales consultant at Foley Inc. “We’ve had the privilege of working with Cruz for decades, and nobody is more respected in the industry than Cruz Contractors. It’s an honor to work in partnership with such skilled and knowledgeable professionals.”
As a matter of conviction, and always working to the highest standard of excellence, Cruz founder Evaristo Cruz, Sr. would agree.
(This article was republished with permission from Paydirt Magazine Winter 2012 Issue.)