The three young Chrysanthopoulos brothers — George, Michael and Alex — started out their careers jointly operating a restaurant.
But running a restaurant didn’t quite whet their appetite for the kind of work they really liked — construction. So they entered the industry working for the Hess Brothers Corporation. By 1987, the brothers went into the paving and construction business for themselves as Tarheel Enterprises Inc., working smaller projects.
“We started out with a pick and a shovel,” George said, smiling as he recalled those early days.
Those days are long gone, though. By the early 1990s, they had moved into heavy highway construction and paving. And today, Tarheel works giant civil projects around New Jersey and realizes annual revenues exceeding $60 million.
“We’ve been at that level for several years and we’re comfortable with maintaining that level of work,” Chrysanthopoulos said.
No Small Jobs
A quick look at its recent portfolio offers a glimpse at the scope of the projects Tarheel and its 150 to 200 employees tackle.
• Interstate 287 — reconstruction of four bridge decks and repaving with 150,000 tons (136,078 t) of standard Superpave mix, a $40 million project.
• Port of Newark — reconstruction and repaving of 450-acre (182 ha) terminal areas, including sewer and water main installation. Total of 1.2 million tons (1.08 million t) of paving material, a $103 million project.
• Route 109 — a 6.5 mi. (10.5 km) reconstruction of the state highway, a $60 million project.
• Route 46 — bridge reconstruction, a $25 million project.
As Chrysanthopoulos said, “We do it all.”
The company also operates a quarry in Pennsylvania.
No Time for Downtime
Meeting and beating deadlines is important in every industry, but it is crucial in the paving business. Finishing ahead of schedule and meeting smoothness standards can garner a company big bonus money. Chrysanthopoulos mentioned, for example, a recent $750,000 bonus for completing one section of the I-287 project early.
“Production is the key for any of our projects,” Chrysanthopoulos said, adding that his Cat pavers and compactors have proven reliable and very productive, holding up exceptionally well under his company’s production requirements.
Key to that production, Chrysanthopoulos said, is the personal service and support Tarheel receives from Foley Inc., of Piscataway, N.J.
“Foley’s product support is top notch,” he said. “They’re on site when and where we need them. They and their equipment ensure that our crews have very little downtime. And in paving, that is very important.”
In particular, he cited Jeff Merle, Foley’s vice president of machinery sales, and Bob Kukulski, Foley sales representative, as being instrumental in explaining and demonstrating what new models of machines can do for their business. In addition, he said, Ryan Foley, vice president of Foley Rents, has played a critical role in explaining the latest technologies available in the industry and expanding Tarheel’s use of them.
“Caterpillar plays a big and important part in our business,” Chrysanthopoulos said. “We’ve had very good experience with Cat equipment through the years and that’s why we keep coming back for more.”
(Reprinted with permission from PayDirt, Spring 2008.)