Albanese Brothers

DRACUT, MASS., UNDERGROUND UTILITY CONTRACTING FIRM IS AN AMERICAN SUCCESS STORY

Feb 8, 2012

Productive Komatsu equipment and dealer support

As a nation of immigrants, the U.S. is filled with people who came from other countries, bringing little to nothing with them. A large number of them achieved great success here, including many in the construction industry. Marco Albanese is one of those construction success stories.

Marco left his native Italy in 1972 at the age of 25, leaving behind a family, including three young children. He had no choice. There was no work and little opportunity in his hometown of Flumeri, near Naples. When he arrived in Boston, Marco had no money and spoke no English. He had a construction background, but initially, the only work he could find was as a dishwasher. Eventually, he was able to hire on with a local contractor.

Marco stayed with that company for six years — earning a living, learning the language and learning the industry. Most of his money went back to Italy to support his family. In 1978, he felt established enough to start his own company, Albanese Brothers, Inc., with his brother John. That’s also when he brought his three children, Marcella, Oto and Maria, to America.

Today, Marco is retired (John left the company in 1991 to start his own business) and the three siblings are equal owners of Albanese Brothers. They share responsibilities in running the Dracut, Mass.-based firm, which has become one of the leading underground utility contractors in New England.

“Our bread and butter is sewer and water work, especially the challenging jobs — deep, with lots of water and ledge,” said Marcella, who serves as President. “We have the people, the equipment and the know-how to do the difficult projects. Anybody can do an easy pipe job. But only a handful can do the big, dirty ones in a tight time frame. We’re one of those who can.”

While sewer and water work, including pump stations, is what Albanese Brothers is best known for, it’s far from all the company does.

“We do site-development work, including clearing and grading,” said Oto, who guides field operations and serves as Vice President. “We do milling, paving, aggregate crushing and recycling. We drill and blast. We even do clean-up and finish work, such as hydroseeding.”

“The reason we started doing all these things was to be able to serve our customers better,” explained Marco. “Our goal is 100-percent customer satisfaction.”

“Today, we’re a self-contained company that can deliver a wide array of turnkey projects,” added Maria, company Treasurer. “By doing the work ourselves, we know it’s going to be done right and be done on time.”

Big jobs

Through the years, Albanese Brothers has done many good-size projects throughout New England. The company is currently doing a complicated sewer/water job for Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and the town of Saugus. It consists of laying a little more than a mile of 36-inch water line for MWRA along with a 12-inch water line for Saugus, parallel to each other under U.S. Route 1.

“It’s an extremely difficult project,” said Maria. “The pipe installation itself is tough. We have to consider traffic, water, rock, existing utilities and environmental impacts. On top of that, all the work has to be done at night.”

“We can’t start until 9:00 p.m. and the road has to be fully open to traffic by 5:00 a.m.,” noted Marcella. “We have to remove the pavement to lay the pipe, which means we have to rebuild the road, including repaving, every night.”

“Obviously, the pavement has to set before reopening to traffic so that leaves only about a four-hour window to work each night to put the pipe in,” added Oto. “The job encompasses many of our skill sets all in one project. It’s not an easy job, but it’s the kind we enjoy.”

Employees share family work ethic

A trusted and talented group of employees is what enables Albanese Brothers to take on jobs like Rt. 1. The company employs up to 100 people when at full strength.

“We’re a family-owned company and our employees are like family too,” said Marco. “We have many good people who’ve worked here for years and they definitely are a large part of why we’ve been successful. They represent us well.”

“The key to our success is hard work,” said Maria. “We do whatever it takes to complete a quality job on time and on budget, and do it with a smile. The great thing about our employees is that they share our values and our work ethic.”

Productive equipment and dealer support

Albanese Brothers has a large fleet of Komatsu bulldozers and hydraulic excavators. In fact, Marco says he believes he bought the first Komatsu excavator ever sold in New England back in the early 1980s.

“I think the world of Bob Benard (C.N. Wood founder and chairman). He helped me get started by selling us a Michigan loader back in the late ’70s. Then in the early ’80s, we took a trip down to Kentucky with C.N. Wood Sales Rep Gerry Carney to look at a Komatsu excavator and we fell in love with it. We immediately bought one and it was a great machine for us.”

Today, Albanese Brothers has four Komatsu dozers and 15 Komatsu excavators, ranging from a compact PC35 up to a 65-ton PC600.

“Excavators are the machines that make us money and Komatsu excavators are the best,” asserted Oto. “They’re fast, powerful and reliable. We recently got a tight-tail-swing PC308 for the MWRA job, and it’s unbelievable. It’s a good-size machine but we can swing it in one lane with traffic right next to it and not worry about hitting anything. It improves safety and productivity. It’s great. I like it so much I want another one right now so I can put it out on another job.”

“All our Komatsu machines are productive and reliable, and we also appreciate how long they last,” said Marcella. “We just traded in a Komatsu excavator that had 14,000 hours. I felt bad doing that because it still ran like a clock. It was a beautiful machine with only normal wear.”

As impressed as they are with the Komatsu equipment itself, the Albaneses are equally sold on the service they receive from C.N. Wood.

“When we have a problem, they respond quickly and there’s never any question as to whether C.N. Wood will stand behind the product,” said Marco. “They’ve done things for us I didn’t even ask for because I didn’t think they owed it to me.”

“Bob Benard and Gerry Carney are true gentlemen and they treat us like gold,” added Oto. “They’re our partners and our good friends. We can do a deal on a handshake with C.N. Wood. People and companies like that are hard to find these days.”

In good hands

When Marco started Albanese Brothers, he wanted to be a general contractor with bonding up to $100,000. Today, the company is bonded up to $60 million and does about $15 million to $20 million worth of work each year.

“I never dreamed the company would be where it is today,” said Marco. “All I wanted was a little company and to be able to make a decent living for my family. The fact that we exceeded that tells me if you love what you do and never give up, anything is possible in America. And I believe that’s still true today.”

“Certainly, our dad emphasized the importance of doing quality work in a timely manner, but beyond that, his main message was to always be fair, honest and honorable in our dealings,” said Oto. “Honor is important to us,” added Marcella. “We’re old-school. To us, our word is the same as a signed contract and keeping our good name means everything to us.”

“I’m proud that my children understand what’s gotten the company to where it is,” said Marco. “It wasn’t always easy, especially being apart for all those years. But that experience made them what they are, and I’m confident that Albanese Brothers is in good hands, and will be for years to come.”