William M. Schultz, president, conducts one of his “road shows,” during which he reviews the company’s vision and mission with employees.
Traffic congestion, delays and deteriorating roadway were exacerbated when a nanotechnology center at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering of the University at Albany added thousands of jobs to the Capitol region. Part of an initiative to bring jobs to upstate New York, the job site has been visited by President Obama on multiple occasions.
To accommodate the increased number of commuters, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), in partnership with Albany County and the Fuller Road Management Corporation, launched an $18 million improvement project. FRMC is funding 45 percent of the project’s cost, with the other two partners jointly funding the balance.
W.M. Schultz Construction Inc. began working at the intersection of Washington Avenue Extension and Fuller Road in late March. In addition to realigning Washington Avenue Exit 300 ft. (91.4 m) to the north and installing a two-lane roundabout at the Fuller Road/County Road 156 intersection, they will eliminate the intersection and construct a flyover bridge to carry through-traffic and pedestrians, diverting 20,000 cars from the intersection and providing better access to CNSE’s Albany NanoTech Complex, which is still undergoing a $366 million expansion.
A 10-ft. (3 m) bicycle lane will connect to existing bike trails and new sidewalks will provide better pedestrian access. New bus bays will provide safer stopping areas for riders. Altogether, more than 3.5 mi. (5.6 km) of Washington Avenue and Washington Avenue Exit will be reconstructed, as well as a half-mi. (.8 km) stretch of Fuller Road.
According to the $14.5 million contract for construction of new infrastructure, work must be completed by Nov. 10. The amount of work involved would normally comprise a two-year project, said William Schultz, owner. Instead, the accelerated schedule is approximately six months. “The most demanding aspect of completing this project is the time restraints.”
Fortunately, Schultz said, work has been phased well, allowing for some complete and some partial shutdowns. Eight pre-scheduled milestones allow crews to work from Friday night around the clock until Monday morning, while traffic is diverted from work zones. “Without those milestones, we couldn’t accelerate the project.”
Schultz is responsible for construction of the roundabouts and ramps. The ramp for the flyover bridge includes a 26,000-sq.-ft. (2,415 sq m) retaining wall. Two 100-ft.-long (30 m) bridges are being built to carry four lanes of traffic on the flyover. Approximately 1,500 ft. (457 m) of 20-in. (50.8 cm) water main and 1,100 ft. (335 m) of 24-in. (61 cm) water main will be installed. Roughly 13,000 ft. (3,962 m) of electrical conduit also will be installed.
The one-mi.-wide project area encompasses a great deal of dirt work. Estimates predict 48,000 yds. (43,891 m) of material will be excavated, in part, for inclusion of five retention basins. Much of the soil will be reused onsite, with an additional 40,000 yds. (36,576 m) of aggregate brought in. Fortunately, the sandy soil has made digging easy, although ground water at 5 to 6 ft. has necessitated extensive pumping.
Equipped to Succeed
The job site has so much equipment, it resembles a sales lot. “It’s Link-Belt City,” Schultz laughed. Approximately 20 pieces of earthmoving equipment are onsite, including Terex articulated trucks, Kawasaki front-end loaders, Liebherr excavators, front-end loaders and dozers and Link-Belt excavators, much of it supplied by Contractor Sales Company (CSC).
Schultz and CSC have maintained a longtime relationship that dates back to the 1970s, when William J. Schultz Sr., Bill Schultz’s father and founder of Schultz Construction Inc., did business with Stephen Seaboyer, previous owner of CSC. Their relationship was so cordial, they had a standing weekly racquetball game.
In 2000, Bill Schultz founded W.M. Schultz Construction Inc. and the business relationship continues between him and CSC president Gerard Calamari. Schultz credited “versatile equipment” as the key to the distributor’s success. “They provide quick-attach couplers and hydraulics as standard issue with all their machines. Few dealers offer this versatility. We learned a long time ago that it is much easier to switch out attachments than it is to switch out machines. We do not believe in the concept of having dedicated machines to dedicated attachments.”
Contractors Sales Company, based in Albany, N.Y., began as a supplier of industrial hardware in 1923. These days its focus is on sales and rental of heavy highway equipment.
Schultz believes that’s where their strength lies: sales and rental equipment. “It’s even in their name!” He goes on to explain that most of the equipment that they have purchased from CSC started out as a rental. At the end of the season he evaluated how the machine performed, how much money was tied up in it and whether or not they had projects lined up where the machine would be useful. “Based on all of this, we decide whether or not to purchase that piece of equipment.”
Although Schultz appreciates CSC’s rental fleet and support, he said there’s “minimal rental” on the Fuller Road project. “The rental equipment has been sent to other active projects.”
Fuller Road may be one of the biggest projects contractor has bid on, but it’s typical of the size and type of job the growing company pursues, contributing to its rapid emergence as a major New York state contractor. Just as Schultz values versatility in the equipment and approach of CSC, he insists on it in his own company. “It’s our strength. We look for projects in the $5 million to $15 million range that include a variety of work, such as concrete work, excavation and site work, road construction, pipeline and systems and even wastewater plants. A niche project has many of those components.”
W.M. Schultz Construction has continued to grow despite the down economy. Schultz said, “We have taken the approach over the last five years that we are not dealing with a recession. Recession isn’t in our vocabulary. We are dealing with a new economy that dictates a new approach in how we run our construction company.”
In 2008, Schultz worked with Gordon Robbie of The Bonadio Group, an accounting, tax, and auditing service, to establish a new business plan that included redefining their market area and areas of expertise. “They suggested we take a new approach in virtually every area of how we run our business and it has paid great benefits,” Schultz said.
Schultz widened the company’s geographic work zone from a radius of 1-1/2 hours from their Saratoga City office to a 3-1/2-hour radius. In addition to working in Connecticut, Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont, he said they now travel further into western New York.
Where they work and some of the methods they use may have changed, but not everything has.
“A constant throughout our history has been our commitment to integrity and superior workmanship,” Schultz said. “Our projects are built with care, determination and courage. It is our goal to not only meet our customers’ expectations, but to exceed them.”