Ruttura & Sons Construction

INNOVATION, FORESIGHT HELP 90-YEAR-OLD CONTRACTING COMPANY CONTINUE TO GROW

Jan 12, 2009

Throughout its history, Ruttura & Sons has been one of the most innovative and cutting-edge contractors in the New York City metropolitan area. It claims to be the first to use forming systems, cutting labor costs significantly; the first to use a curb and gutter machine; the first to use laser screeds and the first to use GPS.

“We’ve implemented technology into every part of our business, which seems ironic considering our grandfather Dominic came to America and started the business 90 years ago as a very small sidewalk and curb contractor,” said Owner and President Tommy Ruttura. “Of course, there wasn’t a lot of technology to work with then, but when my father Sal joined up with him in the 1920s, they began to expand. In the 1940s, they started using the first forming systems. I’ve always believed that being at the forefront with technology has made us better in every aspect, from thickness of a concrete floor to grading a large development site. “

When Tommy says every aspect of the business, he’s talking about a very diverse company that’s seen growth well beyond what the early generations envisioned. Ruttura & Sons still maintains its roots in concrete construction, but has become one of the foremost general contractors in the New York City metropolitan area. Its list of services includes every aspect of site preparation, such as mass excavation, utilities, and concrete and asphalt paving. Concrete pumping and demolition are also on the list.

“We’ll break out our services and do a storm-drainage job, for example,” said Tommy. “But where we shine is in doing those general contracting jobs that involve all aspects of our business working together. That’s really our and our customers’ preference. We handle the schedule and work with our customers to ensure it’s met. Ruttura & Sons will value engineer as well, and our clients really like that.”

Family-friendly, hands-on

Ruttura & Sons began adding overall site preparation and excavation work in the 1970s when Tommy took over the company. He’s since been joined by his brother, Peter, who is Vice President. Tommy’s son, Todd, is a Project Manager and his daughter, Nicole Hogan, is Office Manager. They, along with their nephew, Timmy, who’s an Operator, make up the fourth generation in the family business. The Rutturas also maintain separate specialty companies, including Our Rental Corp. and Our Recycling — the Rutturas were one of the first contractors to recycle construction materials.

At the time Tommy bought the company, it was generating less than $1 million a year in sales. Today, that figure tops $100 million, including some of the largest and most noticeable projects in and around the Big Apple. Ruttura & Sons has completed numerous surface reconstruction projects at Kennedy Airport, as well as site and structural work for the Mets’ new stadium, Citi Field.

Many of its jobs have led to accolades for Ruttura & Sons, including being named the top-ranked concrete contractor among all companies in New York City and on Long Island by New York Construction News. Engineering News-Record ranked it No. 19 in the United States several years ago and consistently puts the company on its Top 600 Specialty Contractors list.

“It’s nice to be recognized like that, but Ruttura & Sons isn’t focused on those achievements,” commented Tommy. “What we’re most proud of are the awards we’ve won for safety, which is our top priority. The most valuable asset we have is the people who work here, and creating a culture that promotes their health and well-being is of utmost importance. All our employees are key, no matter if they work as a laborer or in top management. Because we promote that, along with a family-friendly atmosphere, our turnover is near zero.”

That means Ruttura & Sons maintains a staff of about 350 employees who are split among several crews as needed. The number of staff members has risen since Tommy took over the company, which at the time included himself and three other people.

“It was very small, but I believed it could be built much bigger,” he said of the company in its early years. “That meant I had to work very hard and be very hands-on in order for the company to grow. Pete and I still take that same approach. It’s a large, dedicated and experienced staff, but we still like to meet with our customers face-to-face. Even though we’re a large company, we still maintain a personal touch with our employees and our customers, and we believe that sets us apart. The other thing that separates us is that we’re still hands-on. If there’s a need to be filled, Pete and I are more than willing to do it. Both of us can run any piece of machinery we have, if necessary.”

Komatsu machinery is a vital component

Tommy estimates he began running machinery for his father at the age of six or seven, and says he grew up behind the wheel of a wheel loader. Those versatile machines remain a vital part of Ruttura & Sons’ fleet, with nearly 100 percent being varying sizes of Komatsus, ranging from WA380s to WA500s.

“They’re unbelievably efficient, and with rising fuel prices, that makes a huge difference in the bottom line,” he said. “You can put them up against any other brand and the difference is night and day. We’re doing things with those loaders that others use scrapers and dozers for because the Komatsus have features that allow us to do that. They’re more powerful, therefore, more productive.

“We equipped many of them with quick couplers so we could switch from buckets to forks in our utility work, which allows us to haul pipe and rebar, while still being able to dig and load,” he added. “Add to that, Komatsu loaders are more ergonomically friendly to operators, so they become even better production-wise. The operators don’t feel tired, so they remain as productive at the end of the day as they are at the beginning.”

Rounding out Ruttura & Sons’ equipment fleet are Komatsu standard and compact excavators, ranging from the PC400LC-8 to PC35MR-2, and a new GD655 motor grader. Much of it is financed through Komatsu Financial.

“Every machine has its purpose. For instance, if we’re in a large job where we have to do mass excavation or dig deep and wide pipe trenches, the larger machines handle those very well because they have good power. We put our older ones on demolition projects because they’re still productive enough to handle that environment,” said Tommy. “It took some arm twisting to get me to try the compact models, but I’m so glad we did. In New York City we’re always working up against a building, some other obstruction or in traffic. To have machines that allow us not to worry about the counterweight swinging around and hitting something is extremely valuable. The cherry on top is that they’re fast and powerful enough to do those type of projects efficiently and productively. Like us, Komatsu is technologically advanced.”

Long history with Ehrbar

Ruttura & Sons continues to purchase its Komatsu machinery from Edward Ehrbar Inc. with the help of Sales Representative Dan Stanton. It’s also added a Wirtgen WR2400 self-propelled soil stabilizer. Ruttura and Stanton have worked together since 1984, but the relationship between the Rutturas, Stantons and Ehrbar goes back farther.

“My father worked with Dan’s father, so there’s a lot of history between our companies,” said Tommy. “Ehrbar takes very good care of us, always has. Like us, they believe in personal relationships. I know I can call Pat or Matt Ahern any time and talk with them if I need to, and they and Dan watch over our needs very well. They handle our warranty work and our parts needs. As technological as we are, we can’t always keep up with advances in machinery. Ehrbar knows the machines and their systems and makes sure we stay running.”

Running well into the future

With the fourth generation of Ruttura family members firmly in place, Tommy Ruttura sees Ruttura & Sons running for a long period of time. The company’s reputation for quality is firmly seated after 90 years of business, but Tommy knows Ruttura & Sons will have to continue to focus on good customer service and remain on the cutting edge to keep its many repeat customers.

“We can all still learn in this business, and I believe that’s something that Pete and I have passed on,” he said. “If a company doesn’t look forward, it will stand still. Down the road, there will be even more technology that will come into play, and I hope the kids are the first to embrace it.”