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Masterson Construction Corporation Adds GPS Equipment to Its Vehicles

Fri April 08, 2011 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

You don’t need a GPS to find Masterson Construction Corporation, but if you need one, look no further than its own fleet of equipment.

Constantly striving to improve services for clients, cut time and save money, adding new GPS equipment to its vehicles is just the latest innovation by Masterson. Such advanced thinking is what has kept the company thriving for 30 years.

The Danvers, Mass., company — a well respected leader in the community whose own town is often a client — was founded in May 1981, and is on the eve of celebrating its 30th anniversary.

A true family operation, Jack and Sharon Masterson started the business in their hometown of Danvers. Jack had begun his career in construction working for a local contractor for more than 20 years. Soon after founding the company, the Mastersons found that Jack’s reputation led people to them. The company did primarily utility work early on, but grew into site work over the years. The growth of the company has been and continues to be driven by customers.

“We have always had the attitude that we will find a way to get it done and that has brought customers back,” said Vice President Jeff Masterson, the second generation of owners. His father Jack remains president, while his mother, Sharon Masterson, is treasurer.

As Masterson’s clients base grew, the company grew with them. One of their original customers was New England Telephone, and they continued to be a core customer for many years, even as they merged and changed names.

Diverse Services, Big Projects

The Masterson family has close ties to the community and has always kept their company within the town of Danvers.

Masterson’s headquarters at 46 Prince Street is located on three acres and consists of a single 9,000-sq. ft. building, which houses an office, storage space and maintenance facility. There also is ample yard space for storage of materials and more than 100 pieces of equipment.

Masterson’s many diverse services include site development, utility installation, environmental services, property maintenance, equipment rentals and snow management. They do not sell any equipment but use — and offer for rent with operators — a full line of heavy equipment including: excavators, loaders, bulldozers, backhoes, off-road haul trucks, vibratory rollers, mini-excavators, skid steers, dump trucks and utility trucks.

Some of their biggest projects include:

• Haverhill Commons — A 40-acre (16 ha) retail development for a Target and Lowe’s, which included the demolition of a 120,000 sq. ft. (11,148 sq m) building, 225,000 cu. yd. (172,024 cu m) of earthwork of which 50,000 cu. yd. (38,227 cu m) was ledge that was blasted, 28,000 sq. ft. (2,601 sq m) of retaining walls, and 58,000 sq. yd. (48,495 sq m) of parking lot. The project was completed in 18 months with a total contract value of $9 million.

• Forest View Estates — A 91-lot residential development for Pulte Homes which included 1.5 mi. (2.4 km) of road with underground utilities including water, sewer, drain and electric. Work also included a two-span pre-cast bridge, 50,000 cu. yd. (38,227 cu m) of ledge that was blasted and crushed on site, as well as the preparation for each house lot. The project was completed over a three-year period, with a total contract value of $5 million.

• Ipswich Country Club — A utility project for a residential golf course development including more than 3 mi. (4.8 km) of water and sewer, 2 mi. (3.2 km) of drain, 3 mi. of electric and services for 235 home sites.

Current projects include:

• English Commons — A 50-unit attached townhouse residential development in Topsfield, Mass. The project is a $3 million job of which, Masterson has completed some 75 percent, in the second year of a three-year contract.

• Beverly Retirement Community — A 12-building retirement community located in Beverly, Mass. Masterson also is 75 percent complete on the $2 million project to be completed this year.

Loyal Employees, Low Turnover

Masterson employs an office staff of seven, including accounting, estimating, and project management; a shop staff of three, including a mechanic, a welder and a yard foreman, and a field staff, consisting of seven supervisors and approximately 30-35 operators, truck drivers and laborers.

Their employees are very loyal, with extremely low worker turnover. One employee, Steve Colarusso, has been with the company for more than 25 years. Five others have been employed for more than 20 years, and three others have more than 15 years with the company.

“Our very low employee turnover rate has helped us maintain our repeat clients and grow our business,” said Jeff Masterson.

Masterson Construction has longstanding relationships with many local subcontractors and suppliers that help them meet customers’ needs. A Masterson maxim is, “We are only as good as our weakest link.”

Longtime suppliers include EJ Prescott, Holden Oil, MacLellan Concrete, Concrete Systems, Scituate Concrete, Versalok of New England, Schmidt Equipment, Milton CAT, McDevitt Trucks and Danvers Ford. Longtime subcontractors include John Brown and Sons, Bently Warren Trucking, The Green Company, Maine Drilling and Blasting and the Benevento Companies.

The family unit is the core of the company. Sharon Masterson has been with husband Jack since the beginning. Their son Jeff started part time in 1985 and came on full time in 1988. Since joining the company, Jeff has worked in every position in the company while rising to become vice president, in charge of all day-to-day operations.


and Adaptation

Off that solid foundation, however, the company is constantly adapting to the ever-changing world of construction.

“We have seen a role of the site contractor change into a small general contractor over the years. Once was a time when an owner or general contractor would hire each of these subcontractors themselves,” said Project Manager Bill Peach. “Today, it is not unusual for us to have six subcontractors on a job, and to handle all of the land clearing, blasting, paving, curbing, concrete and landscaping work. We have also seen the amount of regulatory oversight increase dramatically over the years. The amount of permits and paper work necessary to complete a project has increased significantly even in the last five years.”

The company also has expanded services over the years to include environmental work. This work is more common, as projects in the Danvers area are redevelopments of previously disturbed and contaminated sites. Where other contractors might have to wait for a specialty contractor to come in and deal with a contaminated or hazardous situation, Masterson is able to handle it themselves.

“Here again,” added Peach, “The company grew into this work as our projects got more complex and our clients asked us to handle more of this kind of work.”

There have been other adaptations to growing customer needs as well.

“About five years ago, we established a division called Masterson Loam. It is a based at our headquarters and is a supplier of premium screened loam for both retail and wholesale clients,” said Jeff Masterson. “Building on the regular supply of raw loam from the construction division and a large fleet of equipment and trucks, Masterson Loam is able to produce and deliver a quality product for all types of projects.”

It is this consistent attention to exceed customer expectations that has led Masterson to reach the 30th anniversary milestone.

“We have always had the reputation of the company to call when you need it done. We have, over the years, continued to satisfy clients by getting tough complex jobs done quickly,” added Masterson. “We also have a reputation with our suppliers and subcontractors that we pay our bills and this has helped us get the best service and, in turn, provide great service to our clients.”

Tough Times

Mean New Choices

But progression can meet resistance through simple economics; that is, a challenging economy like the past three years have presented.

“We have had to scale back and make some tough decisions. We have a great team of employees and we have all had to pitch in and do more with less,” added Masterson.

“Whether it’s getting multiple bids from suppliers and subcontractors, to setting up yearly contracts with key suppliers, we have also been diligent about keeping our costs down on every aspect of the business,” said Peach.

Masterson also has embraced technology to be much more efficient.

“About three years ago, when fuel costs first skyrocketed, we implemented a GPS (global positioning) tracking system for our entire fleet of on and off-road equipment,” said Masterson. “There is a significant cost, but we more than pay for it in the savings in fuel consumption and it has made us much more efficient. It has also allowed us to better track our job costs and be more aggressive in our bidding of new work”

“We have also purchased two Topcon Hyperlite GPS’s (from Bunce Positioning Systems in Stow, Mass.) that we are now using to perform our own field survey layout,” added Peach. “This is a service that, in the past, we had hired a surveyor to do but are now able to handle ourselves, in house. By having one of our own employees, typically a supervisor, perform the layout work for a job, it allows us to have a better handle on what is happening on a job. It was a significant investment but we have seen an increase in our production, as there is no down time waiting for layout and we always have the ability to layout what we want, where we want it, when we want it.”

Masterson said he sees his company adding GPS in all of his machines, as the next step to, “increase production and better manage the work flow on a job.”

Peach added that management also worked with staff to set up jobs to minimize the amount of deliveries and trucks needed to send to a job. Masterson strives to have its suppliers deliver direct to the jobs to minimize its own trucking. They also use job storage boxes to maintain equipment and tools on site, so that crews do not need to bring multiple trucks to a job each day with various daily tools.

Providing a safe work environment for employees and subcontractors also is a top priority.

“We also see an increase in the amount of attention paid to safety. We have always taken safety very seriously but we see even more strict regulations and enforcement in the industry continuing to create the need for better and better methods to keep our employees safe. We were one of the first companies to set up a trench safety program establishing guidelines with fines for noncompliance,” said Masterson. “We just, last year, created a policy for mandatory gloves for all of our workers as a result of discussions with our employees in our quarterly safety reviews.”

Every employee takes part in a weekly safety meeting on a different subject. Many are OSHA and CPR trained.

Such innovation, attention to detail, adaptation to changing times and requirements is how you “master” 30 years of building.

For more information, go to CEG

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