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LJ Companies Reaches New Heights

Thu November 15, 2007 - Northeast Edition
James A. Merolla

Talk about going up and up; figuratively and literally— from a basement to the top of the tallest skyscrapers in the big cities.

A company that began in Stacey and Pat Izzo’s Cranston, R.I., basement in 1999 has grown exponentially in the past three years, now sitting, virtually, on a top perch in the crane and specialized transportation industries.

It’s a really grand view for The LJ Companies and the sky is literally the limit.

“The company has grown very quickly, especially in the last two years,” said vice president and chief operating officer Paul Fioravanti. “We are one of the fastest growing companies in Rhode Island, number six in 2006, according to the Providence Business News.”

Beyond Rhode Island, LJ — located at 51A Western Industrial Drive in Cranston — is ranked 273rd on this year’s INC. list of the 500 fastest-growing entrepreneurial businesses in the United States.

“LJ’s success is the result of focused planning; hard working employees; streamlined processes and communication among all employees; unique, high quality equipment and assets, and most importantly, an obsession with responsiveness to customer needs,” said Fioravanti. “With a three-year growth rate of 491.1 percent, the company’s growth and success is clearly the result of employees’ dedication to continually exceeding our customers’ expectations.”

LJ also considers itself most fortunate to have customers, vendors and business associates supportive of, and committed to, the company’s business goals.

From $4M to $25M to $100M

The firm is becoming a major player in two different, specially designed marketing segments — heavy hauling/specialized transportation and crane rentals/equipment services. LJ continues to grow rapidly in each segment throughout North America.

“In 2005, we were a $4 to $5 million company,” said Fioravanti. “In 2008, we expect to exceed $25 million in revenue. We’ll be in excess of $100 million in five more years. We have cranes everywhere, all over the country. We have bridge and highway projects throughout North America, tower crane projects in Boston, and other major North American cities. We were a newcomer to the tower crane segment, a very intense and competitive market, and in our first year we learned the business, acquired the assets and landed five cranes in Boston and one at a major casino project in Atlantic City. We continue to bid jobs all over North America and our customer list has evolved from local guys setting modular homes to the top commercial contractors in the world.”

On its trucking side, LJ provides service throughout the New England states into Canada.

“We call it ’Layered Diversification,’” said Fioravanti of his company’s two-tiered business plan.

In 2006, the company branched out into renting tower cranes and now, four different kinds of cranes — crawlers, tower cranes, hydraulic cranes and all-terrain cranes — fill the skylines of major cities. Looking high in the Boston or Rhode Island sky at towers currently being built reveals large LJ logos looming in the sky above.

Unlike “flat” cranes, LJ specializes in Luffing cranes, which lift up and down. “A horizontal boom or jib swings up and enables operators to avoid swinging loads over other buildings — this is a competitive advantage in congested urban environments,” said Fioravanti. “By making a large capital investment in the most desirable equipment, and making the commitment to customers, our business plan continues to fuel our growth.”

LJ continues to evolve into one of North America’s leading crane, rigging and specialized transportation providers. Customers attribute this strength to the quality and integrity of the owners and their workers.

Family owned and operated — with Pat Izzo Jr., founder, vice president and general manager; Stacey J. Izzo, president and CEO; with Fioravanti as day to day vice president and COO; Josh Wilbur, manager of field operations; and Rudy Marinosci as manager of transportation logistics — LJ takes great pride in providing customers with a level of personalized and flexible service, which is available for any emergency, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Izzo family understands the importance of taking care of customers and employees. Alongside his father, Pat Sr., and brother, Anthony, Pat achieved tremendous success in other industries such as recycling and scrap metal, selling their interests to a public company, Schnitzer Steel in 2006. Anthony Izzo remains an executive with Schnitzer Steel.

According to Fioravanti, “Pat is one of the most incredible operations people I’ve ever known — imagine an equipment encyclopedia, GPS system for North American highways, and mechanical and process engineer all rolled into one. He’s probably forgotten more about equipment than most equipment guys know. I learn from him everyday and we work closely trading perspectives on the business. Communication is everything.”

Fioravanti added, “There’s something unique about family businesses as proving grounds. Candid discussion, fast implementation and customer-focused operations are the keys to survival. We’ve all learned those lessons on the family business battlefield and try to work wisely. Here at LJ, we have about 50 employees and they are an exceptional team of people. They are the main reason behind our growth. Their level of passion and collaboration within the company is unsurpassed. People here love coming to work and they are really in it for the growth. Everybody works hard and everybody works together. Most importantly, we are strategic in nature and we work smart. We take our reputation and our personal integrity very seriously.”

In addition, the company offers customers peace of mind with being fully insured, assuring clients reliability and greater financial stability.

“Of course we are well capitalized and well insured, but beyond that, every opportunity to satisfy a customer excites us,” said Fioravanti. “Every project is replete with its own unique challenges. We always say that the best opportunities are the result of daily challenges that we’ve prepared ourselves for. We try to exceed customer needs and to delight customers. It’s all about managing expectations. I can’t single out any one person who does this. Across the board, it’s a family environment and an exemplary team.”

Fioravanti added that because of rapid growth, several investment bankers have inquired about acquiring their company.

“We’ve had overtures from other companies trying to buy us,” said Fioravanti. “But that’s not in our business plan. Our plan is to grow by increasing our market share, expanding, working with customers, both new and prospective, and acquiring other companies in our industry. Through my own exposure to M&A activities in other service industries I have witnessed firsthand how a frenetic plan to grow by carelessly buying companies, which may not share the same market focus or business philosophy often fails to deliver expected results. The “big box” business model doesn’t work in many industries besides retail, because many companies lose touch with the customer. Once that happens, it’s a matter of time. We don’t want to do that to our customers or employees.”

Strength, Reach, Innovation

These three words are the backbone of the LJ Companies. With more than 30 years of industry experience, LJ’s crane rental, rigging and specialized transportation services continue to provide responsive and innovative solutions and a track record of client satisfaction. It offers one-stop shopping for any client’s heavy lift, rigging and hauling needs.

LJ’s Crane & Rigging division enjoys an outstanding reputation for meeting a wide range of customer needs. A member of the prestigious Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, LJ offers crane rentals for a variety of jobs and unique applications. LJ’s operators are among the most experienced in the industry, focused on performance and attention to safety.

LJ’s crane and rigging capabilities include:

• Mobile all-terrain cranes and crawler cranes from 20 to 550 tons (18 to 499 t)

• Luffing tower cranes from 26 to 35 tons (23.6 to 31.8 t)

• Heavy hoisting services barge/ship-rail loading/unloading

• Plant relocation and equipment installations

• Skidding and crating

• Complete warehousing and storage facilities

• Hourly, weekly and monthly rentals

• Qualified, trained personnel

Industries Served

LJ’s Crane & Rigging division services a multitude of industry segments including:

Energy (oil, gas, cogeneration, electricity, and alternative fuels, water, sewer and wastewater, industrial, commercial, and residential HVAC work such as chillers, rooftop units, etc., defense industries, materials processing and recycling and many more).

• 3- and 4-axle heavy duty tractors

• Multiple axle trailers

• Low-bed trailers

• Beam trailers

• Tilt-bed trailers

• Flat-bed trailers

• Double drop trailers

• Stretch double drop trailers

• Vans

The LJ fleet includes both company-owned and leased equipment, which enables them to handle a wide range of cargoes under any delivery schedule.

LJ Heavy Hauling offers a full array of specialized local and nationwide transportation services to meet the needs of any customer. The company hauls construction equipment, over-dimensional loads, cranes, machinery and much more. Their trucks and trailers have individual carrying capacities up to 100 tons (91 t).

It also offers ancillary services such as:

• Direct service to the Continental United States and Canada

• Experienced supervisors and drivers

• Air ride tractors and trailers

• Multi-axle tractors & trailers

• Single and double drop trailers

• Expandable trailers

• Tilt-bed trailers

• Beam trailers

• Jeep with dollies

• Warehousing and receiving

• Custom transport trailers

For more information, call 401/944-8436 or visit CEG

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