Stavola Paves Road to Success With Vertical Integration

Wed August 06, 2008 - Northeast Edition
CEG




Stavola Contracting Co. dates back to 1948, when the five sons of Joseph and Carmela Stavola, decided to go into business together doing small construction jobs, such as excavating basements and paving driveways. Through the years, the firm has grown and has added to its list of services, and today, the Stavola Companies is one of the leading full-service highway construction, aggregate and asphalt operations in New Jersey, according to Binder magazine.

Headquartered in Tinton Falls, N.J., the Stavola Companies comprises Stavola Contracting, Stavola Construction Materials, Stavola Asphalt and Stavola Real Estate.

“One of the strengths of the Stavola Companies is how the individual divisions complement each other to allow us to better meet the needs of our customers,” said Rick Young, who came on board a couple of years ago to serve as chief operating officer.

“We’re vertically integrated. We produce our own stone, which we supply to our own asphalt plants, which in turn supply materials to our contractor business as well as our customers. Everything works hand-in-hand, which is an advantage.”

In addition to in-house uses, both Stavola Construction Materials and Stavola Asphalt sell their products to outside customers as well. In fact, Young said approximately 75 percent of Stavola Asphalt production goes to outside contracting firms. For quarry materials, the figure is about 50/50 between in-house use and outside sales.

Wide Range of Services

Stavola Construction Materials has two quarries, one in Bound Brook and one in Old Wick, along with several sand and gravel operations. The facilities combine to produce a wide range of stone and crushed aggregate. Customers range from individual homeowners to general contractors to governmental entities.

Stavola Asphalt has 10 plants in six cities throughout central and northern New Jersey. They serve a wide range of customers and projects, ranging from small private jobs to large public projects.

The company prides itself on its technological advancements, including offering all Superpave mix designs required by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The Bound Brook facility contains the largest drum-mix asphalt plant east of the Mississippi.

In recent years, Stavola Contracting has focused its construction activities on highway work and other paving and milling projects.

“Our primary focus is on paving-related projects but our contracting business is full-service, including excavation, utilities and concrete work, but we typically only do that when it’s part of a paving job,” said Young.

Stavola supplies materials to a number of large projects including I-78, I-287 and the Garden State Parkway. The Stavola Companies also operates three asphalt and C&D recycling operations.

People Are Key

From a small, family operation, Stavola Companies has grown to employ approximately 200 people. Key personnel, in addition to Young, include Asphalt Division Manager Fred Wallenquest, Contracting Division Manager Mike Waters, Quarry Superintendent Juan Berrios and General Sales Manager Frank Del Guerico. Terry Lovett is the contracting division superintendent. George Gillam helps oversee quarry operations and is in charge of safety at the mines, and Helen Stokes is office administrator at the quarry.

“As for what’s made this company successful, the people who work here deserve much of the credit,” said Young. “It’s a company full of hardworking people who are very loyal to the Stavola family.

“The family also deserves a lot of credit,” he added. “They were willing to think big and take the risks associated with thinking big. When they bought the first stone quarry in the mid-70s, their thought at the time was if they were going to be successful in the highway business, they needed to own their own stone. It was a gamble, but it was also a visionary move and they made it pay off.”

Today, members of the Stavola family serve on the board of directors, but they have removed themselves from day-to-day operational management, turning those duties over to Young and his staff.

Productive Equipment, Responsive Service

For mobile equipment in its quarries and asphalt plants, Stavola Companies has frequently turned to Komatsu units from Binder Machinery Company. Last year, the company purchased six new Komatsu wheel loaders (four WA480-6s and two WA500-6s) to add to its already large fleet of Komatsu loaders.

“Wheel loaders are our primary machines in the asphalt plants and we needed an infusion of new iron there,” said Young. “The Stavola Companies has had a successful history with Komatsu wheel loaders, so that’s where we turned when we decided to upgrade. We like the productivity, the reliability and the resale value we get from Komatsu wheel loaders.”

The company also has a number of Komatsu bulldozers and hydraulic excavators including a PC650, a PC228, a PC400LC-6 with a hammer for use in the quarry, and a PC300 equipped with a concrete pulverizer for the recycling work.

In addition to the quality of the Komatsu equipment, Young also appreciates the support Stavola Companies gets from Binder Machinery and Sales Representative Harry Rice.

“Harry and Binder quote us a competitive price and they do a very good job of servicing what they sell. We purchased PM contracts from Binder on the six new wheel loaders because we trust them. Our most recent loader purchases include a full maintenance package with Komatsu KOMTRAX, and we’ve never regretted it. Binder keeps track of the hours and equipment diagnostic information via telemetry, then makes sure the work gets done as scheduled.

“Beyond that, the Binder service tech does a complete machine inspection every time he comes out to do the PM,” Young noted. “We think that’s definitely going to benefit us in the long run by allowing us to address potential issues while they’re still small and somewhat inexpensive, rather than wait until they turn into catastrophic, emergency repair problems.”

A Cyclical Industry

The Stavola Companies believes in actively supporting industry organizations. Young serves on the board of directors of the New Jersey Asphalt Paving Association. The company also belongs to NAPA (National Asphalt Paving Association), as well as the Utility & Transportation Contractors Association.

“Belonging to organizations like that gives us more voice and more clout than we can have as an individual company, especially when we’re dealing with government entities,” said Young. “We think they’re important for us as a company and for our industry as a whole.”

Looking to the future, Young acknowledged that business has slowed from the record high levels of the past few years, but he’s confident that it will rebound.

“The construction industry is cyclical and sometimes, you just have to wait it out. Right now, New Jersey is being impacted by the housing slowdown. At Stavola Companies, we’ve held up well, primarily because we’ve been so busy in recent years that we have a backlog of work. We’re hopeful that by the time those jobs are wrapping up, the cycle will be rebounding.”

This article was reprinted with permission from Binder magazine, Issue 38, 2007.