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Despite Challenging Times, J.A.M. Construction Continues to Thrive

Mon November 30, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

In 1966, with just one backhoe and a small dump truck, John A. Marshall began a small business named, appropriately, J.A.M. Construction.

Today, 43 years later, with 50 employees, two locations and a fleet of 42 trucks and 28 pieces of equipment, J.A.M. Construction Co. Inc. is one of the most experienced excavating and paving contractors on Aquidneck Island.

In 1966, John A. Marshall had long since learned the meaning of hard work, toiling on the family dairy farm for his entire childhood into his late teens. It was then that he started getting into the construction industry.

Marshall’s first piece of equipment was a Cockshut 550 tractor. After buying it, he started doing odds and ends and things slowly evolved. His next purchase was a dump truck, and then a backhoe, and so on and so on. Soon, he was digging foundations, installing septic systems and learning as much about the industry as he could.

Today, Marshall’s son, John A. Marshall Jr., is one of the owners, along with company President Robert Reed Jr. Marshall’s older brother Jay is the company’s, “top operator who will usually run our new 320 D,” said John Jr.

Working for the Duke

An interesting part of J.A.M. Construction’s history is the fact that for a number of years, John Sr. worked for Doris Duke, an American heiress and philanthropist who was at one time considered the richest woman in America.

“Originally, our work started in Middletown (R.I.) and evolved into Newport where my father worked for the late Doris Duke who started the Preservation Society of Newport,” said John Jr. “He worked for her for many years on various Newport estates almost exclusively, and when she passed away, the work stopped.”

Marshall added, “My Dad worried that most of his customers had found other contractors to do their work. But, slowly, he regained his customers back and even more.”

Services and Materials

J.A.M.’s construction headquarters is located at 1700 W. Main Road, Middletown, R.I. It also has a materials yard at 990 Aquidneck Ave., Middletown.

“We are an excavating and paving contractor who performs all of our paving in house. We also own and operate our own oil truck to perform chip seal/oil and stone projects,” said John Jr. “We pave anything from a walkway to a road. We perform all aspects of excavation and site work. Locally, we have an old infrastructure, so emergency sewer and water repair is almost a daily occurrence,”

J.A.M. provides building services to clients who recognize the value of a contractor who works diligently and creatively to find the best possible solution for each particular project.

J.A.M. Construction Company is committed to excellence in all that it does. The company believes that on-time delivery of the highest quality projects for the best value is only part of the equation. The experience of the construction process is just as important as the results. Its goal is to create positive, memorable experiences and lasting relationships because its actions are guided by their core values.

Steeped in almost a half-century of experience, J.A.M. also uses innovative construction methods and problem-solving approaches to respond uniquely and specifically to each customer’s needs. It is a forward-thinking company with a solid background of proven performance and experience.

As a leader in commercial, heavy, residential and municipal construction, J.A.M. will provide superior quality at a fair price, assist in its employees’ growth and safety, and remain an active participant in their communities.

J.A.M. Materials Yard is Aquidneck Island’s premier supplier of landscaping needs, carrying only the highest quality products. John A. Marshall started the materials yard when he needed a mid-way point between Newport and Portsmouth, to drop off and pick up material used for construction.

With a trailer and one person working, many people were asking if they could buy materials to save them a trip to another store. What started as a few customers here and there, turned into more and more customers daily.

“This is when we realized the yard was in need of a scale to accurately measure the materials being sold,” said his son. “Once this scale was installed, he was able to weigh anything ranging from 10 pounds to 100 tons, enabling him to carry a variety of products for re-sale.”

Company Growth, Community Involvement

J.A.M. Construction has worked on many projects on Aquidneck Island and beyond, but they concentrate on the Island’s three towns, Middletown, Portsmouth and Newport.

“Currently, we are in the process of wrapping up a project in Jamestown, R.I., on a 16,000 square foot guest area. It will include a barn, a movie theatre, golfing area, utility storage, elevator and more,” said John Jr. “We ended up hauling 18,000 cubic yards of fill off the site for the excavation of the foundation. It was featured in the February, 9th issue of New England Construction.”

The company has grown quite a bit in the last 10 years. “We have about 50 employees between the material and construction companies. We have an extensive amount of family groups that are employed here together,” added John Jr. “For example, our asphalt crew is a father and his three sons. We have two backhoe crews where two brothers are together. Then, we have my family, my father, who is the founder of the company, myself and my older brother Jay.”

Workmanship, Service

“What makes our company stand out is customer service and workmanship. We are known for doing quality work and standing behind it,” he said. “We are a small community, on an island, with three towns. We try to focus on the three towns only. When someone calls us at five at night, when we are ready to go home, and need their broken sewer or water line fixed, we pull a crew together and get the job done for them. People will remember when you were there for them and call you when they have another job.”

Despite the difficult economy, J.A.M. keeps getting a steady stream of work. “In this economy, we are very grateful to be as busy as we are right now. We credit that to all of our employees who are out there every day doing the work. We try to carry on the same things that my father has taught us, and got us to be where we are as a company today,” added John Jr.

Loyalty and longevity are keys to any longstanding, successful company and this certainly applies to J.A.M. Construction.

“We have three employees that have been working here as long as 41 years. Larry Silvia, our head estimator, has been here since 1968. Edward Alvernaz, who is a truck driver, started in 1969, and Robert Monroe, a backhoe operator, started in 1979,” said John Jr.

“What gets us through economies like this is our name and reputation. People want to do work with companies they know will be around for years to come,” he said. “We are proudest of being able to walk or drive down any street on Aquidneck Island and point out something we have done, whether it was put in the road, or put the walkway in someone’s yard, and have a good feeling that years later, the job still looks great.” CEG

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