A progress photo of Ritacco’s Route 206 Bridge replacement over the CSX Railroad in Montgomery Township.
Approximately 25 years ago Antonio Ritacco got his start in construction as a youthful owner when he purchased a backhoe and single axle truck. The decision to establish his own business followed a period of working in the business for several years while gaining an appreciation for the risks involved in owning a construction company.
The first few years found Ritacco providing excavating services for other firms in northern New Jersey. The work over those years allowed the young entrepreneur to learn how to meet the needs of general contractors and owners, while also developing a positive reputation within the industry. A quick learner, Tony Ritacco was able to move on to greater challenges within just two years of establishing his company.
The Ritacco firm completed its first major project, construction of a concrete foundation to support a large holding tank, in 1989. This $150,000 contract was completed in Rutherford and led to hiring additional staff to meet the growth of work that was to follow.
During the period of time that ended with the year 2000, Ritacco successfully completed an array of challenging public and private sector projects. Work involved concrete installations, site improvements, pipe work and parking lots. Projects were completed for Montclair State University, Newark Airport, Owens Corning Fiberglass Corporation, Rutgers University, Township of Morristown, Readington School District, Township of Bloomfield and the NJDEP. This latter work involved a dam rehabilitation in Allamuchy State Park and was followed by the completion of two bridge projects for Morris County.
The successful completion of so many projects prior to the year 2000 prepared the firm well for its first NJDOT contract which was a $2 million replacement of the Maple Grange Road Bridge. A second NJDOT project found Ritacco completing the realignment of Sparta Munson Corner Road. As those projects were being completed, simultaneous work involved the construction of three culverts for Union County, rehabilitation of Kakeout Dam in Butler and concrete installations at various Rutgers University locations.
During the first two decades in business, Ritacco proved that he could meet the challenges of operating a successful construction company, although he felt that even greater success lay ahead. With this thought in mind, Ritacco began to consider the firm’s strengths and weaknesses. He developed a business culture that focused on greater control of projects from bidding to final completion of the work. He instituted improved field control of costs and production and instilled the values among the firm’s employees. Ritacco also concluded that he and his firm’s personnel should focus their talents on the successful completion of NJDOT and county bridge rehabilitation and construction.
Since establishing a reinvigorated business culture approximately five years ago, Ritacco’s success has been extraordinary. Challenging bridge construction, installation of culverts, major road improvements and dam rehabilitation projects have been completed for private owners, NJDOT and several counties. Some noteworthy projects at the county level include a $5 million contract with the county of Passaic which included the French Hill Road improvements in Wayne, construction of the $2 million Bridge 1400 in Butler and the $1.9 million Green Pond Road Bridge in Rockaway for the county of Morris.
During this five year period, Ritacco also completed a $1.5 million contract for the construction of a Route 57 bridge in Washington Township and a $1.3 million replacement of the Route 23 Peckman’s Bridge in Cedar Grove — both for the NJDOT. The successes with the county and NJDOT work allowed the firm to “step up” to the next level of challenging projects that followed.
Ritacco’s largest single project was completed earlier this year. It was a $13.4 million contract with the NJDOT to replace a Route 206 bridge over the CSX Railroad in Montgomery Township. This work was especially challenging as it required the bridge replacement over the active railroad. A second NJDOT contract that the firm recently completed was a $3.1 million project to construct a Route 208 bridge over Lafayette Avenue in Hawthorne.
Over the last two years, Ritacco Construction has been low bidder on a number of projects for the county of Somerset, county of Sussex and the NJDOT. This work includes multi-million dollar projects for the reconstruction of a Route 9 bridge in Eagleswood, a James Street bridge over Route 287 in Morris Township and the Route 15 bridge deck replacement over Weldon and Espanong Road. More recent NJDOT low bids include a $3.8 million contract for structural replacement and intersection improvements on Route 27 in South Plainfield and a $2.3 million contract for the James Street Bridge over Route 287 in Morris Township.
While working on the various NJDOT projects, Ritacco also set his sights on some challenging work at the county level. The firm recently began work on an $8.3 million contract for the county of Sussex to replace Bridge EO7, which will involve constructing a 500 ft. (152 m) long elevated viaduct over the New York - Susquehanna Railroad. Simultaneously, the firm is also completing the replacement of County Bridge GO703 in Bridgewater for the county of Somerset.
Several key employees at Ritacco Construction have contributed to the firm’s success over the years. Rita Ritacco Lennon has played a major role in the firm’s success. She serves as chief financial officer and with the firm since the formation of the company. Pat Gencarelli is a superintendent with the firm for 15 years and Carlo Ritacco, Tony’s brother, is a superintendent and with the company since 1993. With the firm for 10 years is Giuseppe Gencarelli who is the project manager.
Four years ago Sal Nesto Jr. joined the firm and is the firm’s vice president and chief operating officer. He has worked closely with Tony Ritacco in implementing future direction of the firm. The company also expresses a measure of gratitude to Ralph Nesto, who headed the firm’s estimating efforts for more than ten years prior to his passing in June of 2011.
Tony Ritacco’s new approach in advancing his firm, which he implemented five years ago, is paying dividends. The organization is a cohesive force focused on success.
(This article was reprinted with permission from Utility and Transportation Contractor Magazine, December 2012 Issue.)