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IEW Adapts, Evolves in Ever-Changing Jersey Economy

Fri November 18, 2011 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Over the past 10 years, Trenton-based IEW Construction Group has grown from $20 million to $100 million in annual revenues. Under the leadership of third-generation President Vaughan Grundy, III, the company’s 300 dedicated employees deliver multi-disciplinary expertise in heavy highway and bridge construction, general construction, plant maintenance, metal fabrication, emergency services, site work and excavation services, marine construction, and bridge maintenance and repair.

With renowned expertise in bridge construction, IEW is an official maintenance contractor for bridge inspection and repair for the state of New Jersey. “We have crews all over the state taking care of bridges,” said Darrell Harms, vice president — project manager/engineering at IEW. “We also provide emergency services, so if a truck hits a bridge, we’re the guys repairing it. If a movable bridge gets stuck trying to close, we’re called out to fix it.”

Experts in Emergency Response

For specialized, bridge-inspection equipment in emergency response situations, IEW relies on its equipment partner, Foley Rents. “We have a long-standing relationship with Foley to provide us with aerial lift rentals and other equipment at a moment’s notice,” said Harms. “Foley Rents responds quickly with the equipment we need and has been a reliable partner with our emergency response units for years.”

Because every emergency response situation presents a unique set of challenges, IEW might request anything from a backhoe or excavator to an aerial lift. “No other equipment dealer offers 24/7 service like Foley, and that makes a big difference to us,” said Jim Pennell, equipment manager at IEW. “Foley’s After Hours Service is great.”

During emergency situations, IEW and Foley Rents work as true partners, said Dewey Cardoso, rental services account manager of Foley Rents. “When I get a call from Jim Pennell — anytime, day or night — I immediately secure equipment from my laptop and notify security at Foley that a driver will be picking it up.” This seamless response between IEW and Foley Rents helps minimize response time and assures the right equipment arrives on site as quickly as possible.”

Emergency situations are not the only times IEW relies on Foley Rents After Hours Service. IEW crews normally work two shifts, spanning from 7:00 a.m. until after midnight. On any given day, crews may need Foley support long after most dealers have closed their doors and gone home. “We pride ourselves on our Emergency and After Hours Services,” said Ryan Foley, vice-president, Foley Rents. “We consider ourselves the expert in the field. Foley Rents is here to support Jim Pennell and IEW in everything they do, whenever they do it.”

N.J. Turnpike’s $2.5

Billion Widening Program

Universally respected throughout the region, IEW is pre-qualified for heavy highway and bridge construction in six states — from Connecticut to Virginia — and holds contracts with multiple agencies, including: the Department of Transportation of the various New Jersey counties, New Jersey Transit, Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, PennDOT and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

As part of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s ambitious $2.5 billion widening program, IEW currently holds contracts totaling $124 million. Scheduled for completion in 2014, the program consists of approximately 35 mi. (56.3 km) of widening and interchange improvements along the Turnpike, with the end result being 12-lanes between much-traveled Exit 6, in Mansfield Township, and Exit 9 in East Brunswick.

“The widening program was well timed, considering the state of the economy,” said Harms. One $28.7 million project currently under construction includes four new bridges. Demolition and reconstruction of the 1,000-ft.-span (305 m) Edgebrook Road Bridge over the Turnpike has been completed, while the 600-ft.-span (183 m) Robbinsville-Allentown Road Bridge, which also extends over the Turnpike, is currently under construction with traffic flowing on one-half of the newly completed portion of the bridge. A third bridge under construction at Turnpike ramp TN crosses over Route 195 and includes a new 200-ft. (61 m) curved girder. A fourth bridge, also on Robbinsville-Allentown Road, will span over Turnpike ramp TN. IEW is scheduled to complete work on all four bridges by the fall of 2011.

IEW’s Legacy of Innovation, Steel

Founded in 1925 by Vaughan Grundy, I, the company — then known as Ornamental Iron Works — made structural steel. Some of the company’s early projects have stood the test of time and are now New Jersey landmarks, including: the Rockefeller Institute in Princeton, State House Annex, New Jersey War Memorial, the State Museum, and the familiar guard rails for the Trenton Makes Bridge.

Headquartered in Trenton, N.J., IEW emerged in the 1930s and 1940s as a specialty ironworks and steel fabrication provider for manufacturing plants. During WWII, its specialties included building and rigging refineries, and retrofitting factories to build tanks and planes for the war effort, including a General Motors plant that IEW converted to manufacture Grumman Avenger aircraft that played a decisive role in the Pacific. After the war, IEW converted the plant back, so GM could once again build automobiles for the American public, and the world.

By the 1960s and 1970s, under the leadership of Vaughan Grundy, II, IEW adapted to the needs of the nuclear age and focused its efforts on the Nuclear Power Industry, along with school and building construction. The company operated three steel fabrication facilities in the Trenton area, engineering everything from specialty stainless steel work for nuclear reactors, to patenting some of the region’s most recognizable storefront framing systems.

“That’s when we started developing some real complex steel work,” said Harms. During the 1980s and 1990s, when transportation infrastructure took center stage in New Jersey, the company adjusted its sites accordingly, this time on highway construction and bridgework, which offered a perfect showcase for IEW’s expert legacy in steel. During this period, the company was engaged in multiple heavy highway and bridge projects, as well as uniquely inspired projects like the pedestrian bridge over the Delaware/Raritan Canal and Route 1. The company also completed many marine construction projects, such as the Castle Point waterfront walkway and fishing pier.

“We built a lot of cable stay bridges, too, and we started getting involved in the inspection, repair and replacement of some big-time bridges like the Ben Franklin Bridge and the George Washington Bridge,” said Harms. “At the same time, we got involved in a lot of infrastructure work and started performing subcontract ironwork installing steel, jack and bearings. That’s when we evolved into a heavy-highway contractor.”

Landmark Bridge Restoration

Because of its long and distinguished history building steel bridges, IEW is recognized as a “go to” company for heavy highway and bridge projects, especially when it comes to restoring older landmark bridges. This past decade, IEW continued to make its mark on the New Jersey landscape with high profile projects like the restoration of the Commodore Barry Bridge over the Delaware River between Chester, Pa. and Bridgeport, N.J. Unique to this project was the installation of 10-inch diameter steel rods, each 130-ft. (40 m) high and capable of withstanding 6 million lbs. (2.7 million kg) of tension.

In 2008, IEW was chosen by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission to restore the Milford-Montague Bridge connecting Route 206 in Montague, N.J. with U.S. Route 209 in Pennsylvania. The $19.1 million project included replacing precast-concrete deck panels and several deteriorated steel support stringers under the deck before overlaying with asphalt.

The 1,150-ft. (351 m) long, four-span continuous steel deck truss structure originally opened in 1953 and was selected as one of the 10 most beautiful steel bridges by the American Institute of Steel Construction. During the recent renovation, the entire steel superstructure under the deck was blast-cleaned and painted, helping to restore the bridge to its former glory.

Also recently, IEW completed restoration of a key drawbridge for New Jersey Transit. NJ Transit’s Morristown Line serves Morris and Somerset Counties’ commuter rail passengers to business destinations of Newark and New York. The railroad crosses the Hackensack River in the city of Newark via a vertical lift drawbridge that must open to allow the passage of ships through the river. The reliable operation of this 82-year-old vertical lift drawbridge is critical to the railroad and the nation’s economy. IEW Construction Group was contracted to refurbish the structural steel, paint the bridge, rehabilitate the motors, gears and control system, install new counterweight wire ropes, weigh and rebalance the bridge and repair the bridge deck and approaches. The project was accomplished with minimal railway outages.

Whatever It Takes

Whether planning, scheduling and fulfilling long-term heavy highway construction contracts, or responding to catastrophic bridge emergencies in the middle of the night, throughout its long history IEW has demonstrated incomparable expertise, as well as remarkable adaptability to changing market conditions. After eight decades that have witnessed economic extremes of depression, recession and prosperity, the company has grown ever stronger and more diverse.

“We have a great history that reflects our flexibility and perseverance,” said Harms. “Over the past few years, we’ve made great headway in a lagging economy because we’re willing to explore new avenues for growth. We’re extremely diverse — highway, bridges, transit, marine, emergency response — and our key to success has always been our ability to change with the times. We’ll follow the work wherever it leads us, and we’re prepared to do whatever it takes.”

This article was reprinted with permission from PayDirt Magazine, Summer 2011 Issue.

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