In the current times of uncertainty, social distancing and hoarding, stories also are emerging of hope and humanity. One of those stories comes out of Exeter, Pa., where Kuharchik Construction Inc. saw a need and helped to meet it.
"On Tuesday [March 17] morning's press conference, the president and vice president urged construction companies to consider donating available masks to their local health care systems," said Chief Executive Officer Robert Bresnahan Jr. "We immediately started counting our inventory and realized we had about 1,000 N95 masks in stock. Out of all of the decisions this week, making this contribution was the easiest. Our healthcare professionals are running desperately low on supplies while they are acting as our last line of defense. We need to ensure they stay healthy so they can continue to save lives."
As of March 19, the company had supplied Luzerne County EMA, various health care systems, first responders and nursing homes who reached out pleading for help.
"My only regret is not having more to contribute," Bresnahan said. "Since the outbreak of COVID-19 within the state of Pennsylvania, our industry has been virtually brought to a screeching halt. All of our construction projects have been shuttered under the Department of Transportation's direction. This has been a very challenging time for our business and employees, but understand we are all in this together. We as Americans need to do anything and everything we can to ameliorate this crisis. It is imperative that our highest risk neighbors have every opportunity to conquer this illness. As a specialist in the electrical industry, our purpose is to power and illuminate the world around us."
Bresnahan stated that the company specializes in traffic signals, highway lighting and signing, decorative streetscape revitalization, and Intelligent Transportation Systems throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
"We have adopted the philosophy of ‘Moving Pennsylvania Smarter,' he said.
He noted that at his company, as with many others, life as we know it has changed in every aspect. Adaptations have had to be made rapidly.
"We have pivoted our operation to focus more on logistics and internal controls," Bresnahan said. "As a contractor that maintains traffic signals and intelligent transportation systems, our response time and availability is essential. We have crews on standby ready to deploy should a need arise."
He noted that a key element of the business is equipment.
"We have over 100 trucks on the road combined with hundreds of other pieces of heavy metal used for excavation, drilling, and aerial work," he said. "Our mechanics have been busy doing preventative maintenance making sure when we can get back to work everything is in tip-top shape. Our engineering department is busy crunching numbers for upcoming bid lettings combined with dissecting current projects, performing all the necessary submittals and other documentation the department requires."
He stated that schedules will need to be adjusted to reflect new completion times and extension of times for projects will need to be requested.
"The problem we are all facing is we have no idea on how long this shutdown will last," he said. "Meanwhile, from an operations perspective our controllers need to manage cash flow effectively while juggling the impending loss of revenue."
Bresnahan noted that Northeastern Pennsylvania is resilient and strong and is known as the "Valley with a Heart." In that area, Mountain Productions Inc. out of Wilkes–Barre is prepared to construct temporary disaster recovery centers. In addition, multiple small businesses have already stepped forward and offered warehousing space should there be an overflow within the hospitals.
Bresnahan serves as president and chief executive officer of Kuharchik Construction Inc., which is a third-generation family business.
"My grandparents Walter and Rhoda started this business in 1973 out of their family garage," he said. "My grandfather Walter was an IBEW electrician and drove around with the family station wagon with a ladder strapped to the roof working on residential homes and wiring grocery stores."
Over time, the company slowly transitioned into more commercial electrical applications and in 1990 performed its first Department of Transportation project.
"Since then, we have grown to employ over 100 men and women performing all of our own work from the ground up — literally," Bresnahan said. "Throughout time, Kuharchik Construction Inc. has maintained a steadfast mission in providing our clients with quality craftsmanship, outstanding service, the treatment of our customers and employees in a respectful manner, and to be a positive influence within the community."
After graduating from the University of Scranton, Bresnahan assumed the role of chief financial officer while the company began its succession plan.
"For as long as I can remember, I would ride to jobs with my grandfather, work in the warehouse, and eventually be a laborer on a crew," Bresnahan said. "It was an incredible learning opportunity to see the different thought processes, allowing me to forge my own style of management. Since assuming the role as CEO in 2016, we have seen annual revenues increase dramatically, all while maintaining our fundamental strategies. Carrying on my grandparents' legacy has truly been an honor."
Kuharchik stated that since the entire globe has been affected by the Coronavirus, this is the time to pull together as a society and come out stronger and more united than ever.
"I encourage other business leaders to explore ways they too can make a contribution to this tragedy," he said. "We all need to combine resources in efforts to contain, mitigate, and ameliorate this crisis. Even during these challenging times, our customers should know we are only a phone call away to help."§ CEG
Helping in a Time of Need
Is your company donating PPE, assisting with food or supplies delivery to senior citizens or other measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, let us know at CEG and we'll tell your story about what your company is doing to help all of us surmount this crisis.
E-mail how your company is helping to Craig Mongeau, editor in chief of Construction Equipment Guide at firstname.lastname@example.org.