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Construction

A Surge of Confidence

By Kathleen Prause and J.D. Harrison

Results from the USG Corp. and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index from the second quarter of 2019 indicate that more than half of contractors are highly confident that the market will provide sufficient new business opportunities in the next 12 months.

Overall, the Q2 composite score of 74 — up two points from 72 in the first quarter — shows a vibrant commercial construction sector, although contractors’ revenue expectations slightly decreased.

“The construction industry is a reflection of our country’s broader economic health, so contractor optimism is a great sign for everyone,” said Chris Griffin, president and CEO of USG Corp. “Even so, it is important that we think about solutions to our big challenges, like building a healthy pipeline of new workers and incorporating technology to make our job sites safer and more efficient.”

More than half of contractors (52%) are highly confident about the ability of the market to provide new business opportunities in the next 12 months, an 11% increase over last quarter’s findings. The backlog ratio — comparing contractors’ average current backlog of projects to the ideal amount of work companies would like to take on — reached 82, the highest since the Index launched in 2017. Hiring expectations also recovered between Q1 and Q2 2019, with most contractors (60%) anticipating employing more people in the next six months.

Furthermore, 60% of contractors report confidence that revenue will remain stable. They also expect access to capital to continue, with 66% believing access to financing will get easier or remain the same over the next six months.

In a notable shift from the last three quarters, the number of contractors who report “high concern” about the availability of skilled labor declined to 46% (down from 54% in the first quarter. While confidence in having access to skilled labor shows some improvement, 85% of contractors still express high concerns about the cost of that skilled labor.

For the third time since the launch of the Index in 2017, this quarter’s survey explored sustainability practices in construction. The findings show that the average share of green projects for contractors is declining. This finding is interesting, since other industry studies reveal no slowdown in the number of green construction projects. One explanation may be that the majority of green work is becoming more concentrated among a smaller group of specialized companies. The study shows that green projects are done more frequently by large contractors.

The Index also reports a mismatch between green standards and green incentives, with most contractors (84%) saying they must meet green standards on at least some projects, but fewer than half (47%) take advantage of green incentives. Finally, general contractors report that the most important green attributes swaying their purchasing decisions are energy efficiency (80%), materials without harmful chemicals (65%), and water efficiency (64%).

The Index comprises three leading indicators to gauge confidence in the commercial construction industry, generating a composite index on the scale of 0 to 100 that serves as an indicator of health of the contractor segment on a quarterly basis. The second-quarter results from the three key drivers were:

• Backlog: contractors’ ratio of actual to ideal backlog rose five points (to 82 from 77), hitting its highest point since the Index launched in 2017;

• New business confidence: the level of overall confidence rose three points (to 74 from 71), suggesting a return of optimism about the market’s ability to provide new business opportunities in the next 12 months; and

• Revenue: the revenue score dropped one point (to 66 from 67), although most contractors (60%) expect revenue to remain the same.

Kathleen Prause is director of Corporate Communications for USG Corp., a manufacturer of building products and innovative solutions. J.D. Harrison is executive director for Communications & Strategy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Construction

From Bedside to Job Site

Dorothy Ostrowski says she’s never been happier than she is at the helm of a venerable construction firm.

After more than a decade in nursing, Dorothy Ostrowski says she’s never been happier than she is at the helm of a venerable construction firm.

Dorothy Ostrowski has never settled for having just one ball in the air.

Like the time, a few years ago, when she was building a house with her husband, Mike, while pregnant with their second child, completing a dual master’s degree, and starting a new nursing job.

“Somehow, I don’t know how everything fits on my plate, but it all does,” she told BusinessWest. “One of the biggest things I believe is that anyone’s capable of anything. It’s really how bad do you want it, and how much does it impact you, your life, and your family?”

“One of the biggest things I believe is that anyone’s capable of anything. It’s really how bad do you want it, and how much does it impact you, your life, and your family?”

She had to ask all those questions, plus a few more, when the opportunity arose last April to purchase Adams & Ruxton Construction, a 110-year-old West Springfield company, from its then-owner, family friend Andy Touchette.

With Mike busy running his own company, Amp Electric, it was a decision that rested fully with Dorothy, who had worked in nursing for well over a decade but was intrigued by putting the MBA she earned in 2015 to good use.

He said, ‘what do you think? Do you think you can run it?’” she recalled. “And I was like, ‘you know what? It’s time to do something for me. It’s time to do something for our family. It’s time to do something where I know I have a passion and I can be a good leader.’ So I immediately contacted Andy and said we’re interested.”

Mike had long admired Adams & Ruxton and the work Touchette did there. “I knew it wasn’t a dud. It was all about if the numbers worked and whether or not we could afford it — and whether or not she wanted to run it. That’s how it came to be.”

Once the deal and a transition plan was in place, Dorothy spent the next six months working with Touchette, unpaid, learning every aspect of the business, from contracts and estimating to equipment and planning — “every nut and bolt,” as she put it.

Mike Ostrowski knew enough about his friend’s company

Mike Ostrowski knew enough about his friend’s company — and his wife’s skillset — to know this would be a good fit.

With a diverse range of work, from excavation to commercial buildings, the firm’s recent clients include Chicopee Electric Light, Bank of America, the Diocese of Springfield, Callaway, and Coldwell Banker, among others. The company is also currently being evaluated for woman-owned and veteran-owned certifications, which would open up more doors, especially in the realm of state and federal contracts.

It’s a new adventure for sure, one far different than her career stops to this point would have predicted. For this issue’s focus on construction and architecture, BusinessWest talked with Ostrowski about the many twists in her path, from the roads outside Afghanistan’s capital to emergency departments at area hospitals, to her new task, building a new career — both literally and figuratively.

Joining the Force

Growing up, Ostrowski’s plans were much different than her eventual path into nursing. Specifically, she wanted to be a police officer, eventually studying criminal justice at Holyoke Community College.

Before that, though, at age 17, she signed up with the Army National Guard. A friend had recently joined the service, so she spoke with the same recruiter, who explained the opportunities available in a military police role.

“It was one of those turning points in life, like, ‘what am I going to do with the rest of my life?’” she recalled. After attending boot camp the summer after her junior year, she left for Fort McClellan in Alabama the following year, after her high-school graduation, for what would become a seven-year stint, with stops in Italy, Honduras, Panama, and — most memorably — a nine-month tour in Afghanistan, two years after the 2001 U.S. invasion.

“Wherever I’ve been, we’ve always talked about us opening a business — maybe a daycare for special-needs children or something else. I’ve always had that desire to do more and be more.”

“We did a lot of security stuff in Kabul; we were there to support the rebuilding of the Afghan national army,” she explained. Partway through, she became a chase driver for Gen. Karl Eikenberry, tasked with ‘defensive driving’ to protect the general and others from gunfire and IEDs.

“I’ve had dinner at President [Hamid] Karzai’s palace,” she recalled. “We traveled by Chinooks and Blackhawks with Apache escorts through the mountains, met with warlords, and rode in armored-up Chevy Suburbans with thick, bulletproof glass.”

But her future wouldn’t be in police work — civilian or military. Instead, while taking classes at HCC, she crossed paths with some people who got her interested in medical assisting. After earning her certification in that field and working for a podiatrist, she landed in the Emergency Department of Baystate Medical Center. It was an eye-opening experience.

“That was my first taste of the chaotic world of emergency-room nursing, and I loved it,” she said. “I don’t think you ever get stagnant in that kind of environment. You never know what’s going to come around the corner next, and if you become complacent somewhere, you start to miss things and start to make mistakes. It’s the ever-changing part of it and the constant knowledge. No two patients have the same cookie-cutter symptoms or diagnosis. It’s that constant education that keeps you on your toes.”

She performed well in that environment, and colleagues began suggesting she attend nursing school, which she did, earning an associate degree in nursing at Springfield Technical Community College with help from G.I. Bill benefits, and soon found herself in a new-graduate residency at Baystate.

“But I always wanted more,” she said. “I stayed there long enough to get experience, then I did travel nursing. I saw a lot of different places and different ways procedures are done.”

Ostrowski eventually returned to Western Mass., where she dated, then married Mike, and earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Elms College. She took ER jobs at Baystate and Mercy Medical Center, but soon decided she wanted to shift into a less hectic type of job that allowed her more time with family. So she accepted a job with Sound Physicians, a medical process-improvement company, and went back to Elms for a dual master’s degree in nursing and business administration.

“Throughout these transitions, I always wanted more,” she said. “I wanted to be more in a leadership position.”

She found that by buying Adams & Ruxton.

“Wherever I’ve been, we’ve always talked about us opening a business — maybe a daycare for special-needs children or something else,” she said. “I’ve always had that desire to do more and be more.”

After Sound Physicians, she worked at St. Francis Medical Center in Hartford as a process-improvement nurse, and had moved to a role as nurse manager at Connecticut Children’s Hospital when the opportunity arose to buy the construction company.

“I’ve never not been happy as a nurse, and I think I would have potentially stayed in nursing longer had I stayed at the bedside,” she explained. “But I had moved into more of that management piece of nursing, and I constantly struggled with being a nurse’s nurse versus the business of healthcare. It was a difficult internal turmoil to be in, when you know what you want to do through your nurses and patients, but your constraints are based on finances.”

Furthermore, the job was keeping her busy 60 hours a week or more, and she felt she wasn’t home nearly enough to be with her family, especially her older son. “He was struggling to read as a first-grader, and I could have counted on my two hands how many times I was home in time to be able to read to him.”

Time to Change

Something had to give. And her husband could see it, too.

“Between the unhappiness of where she was and having a friend of ours running this [construction] business the past 10 years and how well he’s done, that put it into perspective — ‘hey, it’s just another type of business,’” Mike said. “We’re buying a fully established business that’s completely up and running. All you have to do is go in and replicate what’s going on. You don’t have to build it from the ground up — you can make your changes, you can improve it and grow the business, but in the beginning, all you have to do is replicate it and keep it going.”

“Knowing where to get the answers and knowing to tell someone you don’t know the answer — you get more respect from that than from anything.”

The transition period was important, Dorothy said.

“Andy said he had gotten multiple offers from people he thought would potentially be able to take this business on, but they weren’t the right fit,” she noted. “There’s a certain quality that Adams & Ruxton provides. You have to be the right kind of person who’s going to be there for your clients and your prospective clients. And Andy really wanted to make this a warm handoff. So, the last six months, he made sure he introduced me to all his key clients, and he’s come back in a consultative way; if there’s someone I didn’t meet during those six months, he goes out and meets them with me so they know they’re in the same hands they were before.”

She said the most gratifying aspect of her career move was the fact that Adams & Ruxton’s employees, many of whom have been there more than 20 years, stayed on board when she arrived — and have been a rich resource.

“There’s a constant conversation — if I don’t know something in the construction realm, I have the support system and the knowledge within these walls to ask the questions. I know finances, and I understand how to run the business. I may not know everything there is to know about general contracting, but I know when to say I don’t know, and I know when to ask the questions. I have a great support team.”

Mike agreed. “Knowing where to get the answers and knowing to tell someone you don’t know the answer — you get more respect from that than from anything,” he said.

Both are pleased that business — both at the firm and in the industry as a whole — is healthy right now, Dorothy said. “Our construction rampup this year has started much earlier this year than previous years, so I have no worries about the busy-ness or sustainability.”

It’s a peace she said she began to forge during the period she worked directly with Touchette.

“Over those first six months, there were times I’d never been more sure of something in my career, even as a nurse, and I’ve never been happier than I am now,” she told BusinessWest. “I probably have more stress because I directly impact the livelihoods of the people who work for me, but I’m happier. I enjoy coming to work every day. I enjoy learning new things every day.”

Ostrowski thinks back to other times of transition during her life — like when she missed her graduation from Elms in 2010 because she was delivering her first child — and sees one whirlwind after another, but that suits her just fine.

“I’ve never backed down from a challenge, and I think this is probably the coolest challenge I can embrace, and I will make this successful because I’ve got a great team around me,” she said. “I’m lucky to be where I am right now.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Construction

Home Free

Partners Stephen Ross (left) and Bob Walker

Partners Stephen Ross (left) and Bob Walker

Construct Associates has built a reputation for home renovation and restoration in Western Mass. over the past few decades, which is fortunate these days, since business is surging in that area. The reasons are myriad — among them, plenty of old housing stock in the Pioneer Valley, a generally strong economy, and the continued aging of America and the desire among the senior set to remain in their homes and age in place. It all adds up to opportunity, and Construct is making the most of it.

Stephen Ross says residential renovation is looking up — in more ways than one.

“We’re doing a lot of aging-in-place stuff — personal elevators, residential elevators, additions,” he told BusinessWest. “I like to say that an elevator costs probably 10 months worth of a decent retirement community. There, you’re not going to get that money back. But with an elevator, it’s equity toward your house.”

Ross and Bob Walker, the partners at Construct Associates in Northampton, say aging in place is a major trend in residential construction and renovation these days, with the Baby Boom generation continuing to swell the ranks of the over-65 age group, many of them loath to give up independent living.

“I saw a poll recently where 88% of people want to remain in their home, and a lot of them are trying to do just that,” Ross said, noting again that elevators, accessible showers, and other additions pay for themselves if they make the difference between staying there and moving to a retirement community. “I’ve got two of those in the works now. One is an in-law suite, where they’re making it accessible for the in-laws, and the other is a professional couple that wants to be able to utilize their whole house.”

Meanwhile, Walker is wrapping up a first-floor master suite in Northampton with an aging-in-place concept. “It’s an older home right in the middle of town, but all the bedrooms are upstairs. A couple years ago, they did a big kitchen remodel, and now they want a bedroom and bath and laundry on the first floor, where they can get to all of it. We’re putting in a curbless shower, in case of limited mobility.”

“We did a pretty serious job search back in the fall, but we we got a lot of people we felt weren’t qualified for the quality work we do. Sometimes you do get good people come in who are older guys. The labor pool is aging, and it would be nice to see a lot more young people coming into the field.”

Not only do older people want to age in place, Ross said, but the Five College area tends to have consistent rotation of housing stock, and new owners want to come in and put their mark on their new house. And many newcomers to the region arrive from pricier markets, so they’re getting relative bargains and have money left over for remodeling.

“We’re a high-end firm,” Walker added. “We’ll do the whole gamut of work, but our real money is in high-end residential remodeling. At this point, we really are working off our reputation, our referral base. I’m doing a major house remodel in Longmeadow now — four bathrooms, going through the house and upgrading. I have another major job like that, a big Victorian in town here with a high-end kitchen, a big master bath, upgrading mechanical systems, making it as energy-efficient as possible.”

New home building remains a quieter market, Ross added, so Construct is in the right place these days. “Kitchens and bathrooms are our bread and butter, and it always seems like weve got one or two, if not four or six, going on in the background.”

Innovative Idea

Walker and three other partners — Hobie Iselin, Bob Reckman, and Chris Dawson — launched Construct Associates in 1984 with a bright idea — and good timing.

The idea was to create a construction company based on the model of a law office, where the owners share space, marketing, and accounting, but are responsible for managing their own projects.

This residential addition in Northampton

This residential addition in Northampton features an elevator, an amenity that has become more popular in recent years.

The good timing had to do with the company’s home city of Northampton, which was growing quickly and had recently begun to capture the imagination of developers. Construct had a hand in shaping the commercial rebirth of the city, building or renovating the Northampton Brewery, the Hotel Northampton, the Calvin Theater, two Bart’s Ice Cream Shops, Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery, Pinch Pottery, Pleasant Street Video, Silverscape Designs, and other properties.

Other partners have come and gone over the years; today, Walker shares ownership with Ross, who first joined the company as a carpenter in 1988 and became a partner in 2006.

The workload has changed over the years; Construct Associates does far more residential work — mainly home-renovation projects — than it used to. But it still does some light commercial work, notably the recent renovation of New England Treatment Access, the marijuana dispensary a block away from its Northampton headquarters.

The firm’s design and construction capabilities cover everything from antique designs to modern styles, the partners note, but they specialize in older buildings, providing innovative designs and construction for kitchen and bathroom remodeling, renovations, and additions, as well as new construction projects.

“We do all our carpentry. We don’t sub out any carpentry because we have our in-house guys,” Walker said.

While the volume of work has been strong lately, he noted, the staffing issues that plague many contractors may be the only thing holding back further growth.

“We lost a few guys last year, and we’re trying to replace them. We did a pretty serious job search back in the fall, but we we got a lot of people we felt weren’t qualified for the quality work we do. Sometimes you do get good people come in who are older guys. The labor pool is aging, and it would be nice to see a lot more young people coming into the field.”

He said he hired a carpenter last year who recently graduated from Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School — one of only three students in the carpentry program at the time. That’s not surprising, as a decades-long emphasis on pushing kids into college has contributed to talent shortages in what are generally well-paying careers in the construction trades.

“The most interesting thing I see in vocational schools is the percentage that are going to college,” Ross said. “Back when we were kids, if you went to vocational school, that meant you were going into a vocation. I’m personally shocked at the kids going on to higher education.”

Walker agreed. “It’s interesting. You can make a really good wage doing this rather than try to come into the job market with some computer skill that every guy and his brother has.”

Smooth Sailing

Other than finding talent, the construction-industry landscape is looking strong in 2019, Walker said.

“One of my lumber-yard reps asked how we were doing because he was really surprised that, right after the first of the year, things are still hopping. He sees it because he supplies a lot of builders. Generally, you get to this time in January, and things kind of slow up, but they’re moving quite well.”

Part of that has been the mild winter — though at press time, shortly after this interview, a major snowstorm was expected to sweep through the Northeast.

“There are jobs where I might have pushed a little harder to get concrete in the ground had I known we would have had this mild weather,” Ross said, “but you had that first [November] snowfall that made you think winter was coming, and then it didn’t.”

He’s expecting a solid spring surge this year, though, once people get their tax refunds and the weather starts to get truly warm.

“One of my lumber-yard reps asked how we were doing because he was really surprised that, right after the first of the year, things are still hopping. He sees it because he supplies a lot of builders. Generally, you get to this time in January, and things kind of slow up, but they’re moving quite well.”

“People are funny,” he said. “They’ll call you in the spring when it starts warming up and want to do something right then, but in reality, some of them should be talking to us right now and planning ahead.”

At the start of 2019, though, the calls have been coming in, partly due to the lack of snow.

“With the weather being mild,” Ross said, “some of them are a little more anxious to get some projects started, when normally they would be hunkered down because they don’t want people tramping sand and salt into their house, and opening and closing doors. So we have more calls than we usually do this time of year, but winter will have to come sooner or later. It’ll be interesting to see what happens then.”

The desire to age in place, however, or simply to turn an old house into something fresh and modern, aren’t ideas subject to the season, and on that front, Construct Associates continues to make its mark on Northampton and the region.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the month of December 2018.

AMHERST

Amherst Shopping Center Associates, LLC
165 University Dr.
$34,020 — Install ductless HVAC system in existing CVS stockroom

D’Angelo Inc.
48 North Pleasant St.
$65,300 — Tenant fit-out for food-service establishments

Granodonico Properties, LLC
25 North Pleasant St.
$37,000 — Remove ceiling and insulation, reinstall blue boards and plaster

Jewish Community of Amherst
742 Main St.
$120,000 — Straighten and re-roof steeple

Mathews Properties
37 South Pleasant St.
$5,000 — Demolish wall between two offices

One East Pleasant St.
1 East Pleasant St.
$5,000 — Limited demolition

Town of Amherst
4 Boltwood Ave.
$10,000 — Town room alteration

Udrive, LLC
40 University Dr.
$551,250 — Core/shell for future restaurant

CHICOPEE

Chicopee Marketplace Owners, LLC
591F Memorial Dr.
$42,900 — Fit-out existing space for nail salon

G6 Hospitality Property, LLC
36 Johnny Cake Hollow
$30,000 — Remove drywall, repair existing drywall, mold remediation

Dorothy Krawiec
2 Valier Ave.
$25,000 — Add three antennas and replace remote radio heads with new ancillary equipment and cables

Yee Family
705 Memorial Dr.
$110,000 — Complete demolition of former Hu Ke Lau restaurant

EASTHAMPTON

Keystone Enterprises
122 Pleasant St.
$352,800 — HVAC work for Insa Easthampton expansion

Keystone Enterprises
122 Pleasant St.
$62,000 — Extend elevator hoistway above roof line, reconstruct level deck landing and exterior elevator lobby

Seachange Endeavors, LLC
117 Pleasant St.
$224,000 — Construct two-story manufactured addition to side of building

EAST LONGMEADOW

Cartamundi
443 Shaker Road
$275,000 — Roofing

LG Industries, LLC
194 Pleasant St.
$25,000 — Kitchen and bathroom

Stacy’s Cleaners
55 White St.
$1,200 — Rebuild interior stairs

Ventry Properties, LLC
124 Shaker Road
$165,500 — New commercial building

GREENFIELD

American Tower Corp.
180 Country Club Road
$13,500 — Install small backup generator for cell tower

Behavioral Health Network
298 Federal St.
$65,000 — Install fire-protection system

Joyce Drake
427 Davis St.
$6,000 — Cut out concrete wall for door, frame two walls to make office, finish and frame for bathroom

Joyce Drake
427 Davis St.
Attach sign to building for Kenney Automotive

First United Methodist Church
25 Church St.
$12,800 — Roofing

Syfeld Greenfield Associates
259 Mohawk Trail
$40,000 — Retrofit sprinkler heads to new ceiling height

LONGMEADOW

The Longmeadow Mall, LP
827 Williams St.
$8,500 — Install ceiling to bring space up to code

NORTHAMPTON

LHIC Inc.
34 North Maple St.
$125,000 — Construct cidery

Smith College
44 College Lane
$2,365,000 — Upgrade existing air-handling units and exhaust fan in Sabin-Reed Hall

Smith College
44 Green St.
$16,000 — New transom, built-in bookshelves, minor electric work

SPRINGFIELD

125 Paridon Street, LLC
125 Paridon St.
$25,000 — Install three panel antennas, remove three remote radio heads and install six, modify equipment, smokestack installation for AT&T

Springfield College
29 Sheffield St.
$225,000 — Alter space in facilities building for use as a dance classroom

YWCA of Western Massachusetts
1 Clough St.
$5,000 — Convert two existing office rooms into sleeping rooms

WEST SPRINGFIELD

73 State St., LLC
59 Interstate Dr.
$32,560 — Replace carpet, ceiling, sink, cabinet, and front door; remove two walls; add additional electrical outlets

Jim Byrne
24 Parkside Ave.
$4,200 — Repair front entry foyer, install new security door, install new siding, install new roof

Dante Club
1198 Memorial Ave.
$38,975 — Roofing

Eastern States Exposition
1305 Memorial Ave.
$25,000 — Install wireless telecommunications equipment for AT&T

Turkmen Kenan
707 Main St.
$4,500 — Roofing

Red’s Towing
1528 Riverdale St.
$32,000 — Roofing

Town of West Springfield
1 Toccoa Lane
$7,500 — Install generator to existing wireless facility

Van Deene Medical Building Partnership
75 Van Deene Ave.
$80,000 — Expand office into adjacent vacant space, add handicap-accessible restroom

WILLIAMSBURG

Equinox Partners, LLC
183 Main St.
$87,000 — Roofing on clubhouse, remove and rebuild entrance, new pine ceiling in clubhouse, install washable surface in kitchen

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
173 Main St.
$14,285 — Roofing

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the month of December 2018.

CHICOPEE

660 Broadway, LLC
670 Broadway
$16,000 — Convert building for use as Domino’s Pizza; lighting upgrade, separate front lobby from production area, reface exterior sign, new lobby tile and wall tile in production area

Chicopee Falls Polish Home
27 Grove St.
Roofing

Christy Real Estate, LLC
710 Fuller Road
$65,800 — Roofing and related work

EAST LONGMEADOW

Allied Floor
55 North Main St.
$2,850 — Two signs

Cartamundi
443 Shaker Road
$152,855 — Concrete slab

Chipotle
42 Center Square
Sprinkler system

Go Graphix
31 Benton Dr.
$53,325 — Roofing

St. Mark’s Church
1 Porter Road
$3,250 — Wood stove

EASTHAMPTON

F & G, LLC
34 Water Lane
$2,000 — Repair shed in rear yard

Norwich Properties
123-133 Union St.
$4,500 — Install fence along sidewalk

Terah Properties, LLP
81 East St.
$57,500 — Roofing

GREENFIELD

Rosenberg Property, LLC
311 Wells St.
$8,365 — Strip and replace shingles on addition, install new vinyl siding and trim over existing siding, install new ridge vent

Steven Schechterle
402 Federal St.
$10,000 — Install two windows, put up stone veneer and vinyl shakes on storefront

St. James Episcopal Church
8 Church St.
$10,000 — Install insulation on attic floor and basement rim

Syfeld Greenfield Associates
259 Mohawk Trail
Erect sign attached to building, erect sign on existing free-standing pylon

LONGMEADOW

Peter Cooney
Ely Road
$14,400 — Demolish accessory building (barn)

First Church of Christ
763 Longmeadow St.
$20,000 — Add fence

GPT Longmeadow, LLC
666 Bliss Road
$17,369 — Roofing

Town of Longmeadow
62 Wolf Swamp Road
$102,700 — Replace cast-iron sectional boiler

NORTHAMPTON

Andrew Adams and Joya Adams
185 Main St.
$1,050 — Non-illuminated sign for Tim’s Used Books

Blue Sky Real Estate, LLC
269-271 Main St.
$6,000 — Roofing

Castle Pines, LLC
344 King St.
$1,000 — Illuminated clearance sign for Burger King

Castle Pines, LLC
344 King St.
$1,000 — Illuminated order-station sign for Burger King

Castle Pines, LLC
344 King St.
$1,000 — Illuminated wall sign for Burger King

City of Northampton
240 Main St.
$9,000 — Erect two columns in basement for limited first-floor repairs

City of Northampton
170 Glendale Road
$9,900 — Roofing

Malvern Panalytical
45 Industrial Dr.
$3,500 — Install seven replacement windows

Northampton Terminal Assoc., LLP
1 Roundhouse Plaza, Suite 2
$7,000 — Office renovation; remove three walls and rebuild

Northwood Development, LLC
15 Atwood Dr.
$3,500 — Non-illuminated ground sign for Hampshire Probate and Family Court

Kevin Ovitt
55 Damon Road
$2,000 — Illuminated sign for Kevin’s Haircuts

Smith College
18 Henshaw Ave., Unit C
$12,000 — Roofing and rot repair

Smith College
21 Henshaw Ave., Unit A
$5,000 — Roofing and rot repair

D.A. Sullivan & Sons Inc.
84 North St.
$4,000 — Construct exercise room

SPRINGFIELD

Big Y Foods Inc.
2145 Roosevelt Ave.
$233,000 — Alter new employee entrance at Big Y distribution facility

Blue Tarp Redevelopment, LLC
12 MGM Way
$30,000 — Install three projection screens in Commonwealth Bar at MGM Springfield

Marcom Realty, LLC
155 Brookdale Dr.
$353,543 — Alter interior tenant space for Louis and Clark Pharmacy

Mason Wright Senior Living Inc.
73 Walnut St.
$64,845 — Alter former storage room into new daycare classroom

Mercy Medical Center
271 Carew St.
$38,160 — Alter office space for exam room in Oncology suite on first floor of Sister Caritas Cancer Center

Luis Moctezuma
1490 Allen St.
$5,000 — Commercial tenant space for restaurant

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
577 Carew St.
$20,000 — Remove and replace three roof-mounted antennas and three remote radio units and install one hybrid fiber cable for T-Mobile at Our Lady of Hope Church

SAIA Motor Freight Line, LLC
345 Rocus St.
$320,000 — Alter interior office space

WEST SPRINGFIELD

AAA Pioneer Valley
150 Capital Dr.
$28,584 — Roofing

Agri-Mark Inc.
958 Riverdale St.
$45,000 — Foundation work for installation of a new silo

Mike Bertera
180 Westfield St.
$7,100 — Remove non-bearing wall, build two half-walls, remove cabinets and counter frame in old window and sheetrock

Camel, LLC
1452 Memorial Ave.
$35,000 — Remove and replace existing HVAC rooftop units

Bill Dellagiustina
414 Park St.
$7,820 — Deliver pre-built accessory structure

Bill Dellagiustina
414 Park St.
$3,135 — Deliver pre-built accessory structure

Town of West Springfield
255 Interstate Dr.
$20,000 — Remove three existing remote radio units and install three antennas on new mounts and three remote radio units

Westfield Bank
206 Park St.
$66,162 — Construct four offices, install new doors and wood trim

WILBRAHAM

Ampersand Collins Hydro, LLC
176 Cottage Ave.
$43,500 — Roofing

Construction

Screen Test

Andy Crane, executive director of the Home Builders and Remodelers Assoc. of Western Mass.

Andy Crane, executive director of the Home Builders and Remodelers Assoc. of Western Mass.

Online learning isn’t a recent innovation, but in the world of continuing education for construction professionals, there aren’t many programs doing it — and few are doing it more effectively than the Home Builders and Remodelers Assoc. of Western Mass., says the association’s executive director. Its partnership with Holyoke Community College, he notes, is helping contractors get the training they need on a schedule that doesn’t take them off the worksite at critical times — and that benefits everyone.

Education, Andy Crane says, isn’t an afterthought for the Home Builders and Remodelers Assoc. of Western Mass. — it’s part of its mission statement.

“We get calls multiple times a day just asking questions, all over the spectrum,” said Crane, the HBRA’s executive director. “It could range from grading the soil to what you need on the roof to what kind of energy efficiency you need, and we’re expected to know that — and if we don’t, we know who to call. The fact that you can call and get an answer to your question is, I think, critical to the building trade in general. I think it validates us.”

On a broader scale, the association has long conducted continuing-education classes for construction supervisors and building professionals. The state requires 12 hours of classwork every two years, but the value of education goes beyond that, Crane said. Take, for example, a course on writing construction contracts.

“Very few people know how to do it properly, how to write a good contract,” he told BusinessWest. “There are contracts written on the back of napkins, or on lumber yard receipts. You’re collecting thousands of dollars from Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and the contractor may or may not take off, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith have no avenue to turn to. Contracts are not just one-way — they protect me, but they protect you as well. Writing the proper contract and including the right licensing and registration numbers and insurance — it’s huge.”

In recent years, the state began allowing up to six of those 12 hours of classwork to be conducted online. Crane said the HBRA wanted to get into that — but wanted to do it right. So the association approached Ken White, dean of Community Services at Holyoke Community College (HCC), to develop an online continuing-education platform that would compare favorably with any live classroom experience.

“More and more education and training is going from live classroom instruction to convenient online learning,” White said, adding that it makes particular sense in the construction world.

“We’re serving construction supervisors who are critically important individuals on the job; they’re overseeing everything that’s happening,” he explained. “To have them off site to go to a full-day program is a huge commitment of time that many times might not be in the best interest of the homeowner or the builder.

“HBRA has been doing premium classes for decades — of the six or seven home builders associations in the Commonwealth, they’re recognized by the rest of them as the best, by far,” he went on. “They asked us if there was a way to take their live instruction and create an online opportunity. That way, they can wrap their training and continuing development around their schedules, which may be weekends, evenings, and early mornings. And instead of taking it in these huge chunks of four hours or eight hours, they can do it an hour here and an hour there.”

HCC partnered with MindEdge Learning and MRW Connected to create a gateway and learning-management platform, White explained.

“We used a videographer to actually film all the live classrooms that take place here at the HBRA, with a three-camera setup. We keep the anonymity of the students because all you’re seeing are backs of heads; the focus is on the instruction. It’s filmed, it’s edited by the college to make sure it flows correctly, then it’s reviewed by the presenter, who is a builder or someone in the construction industry here in the Commonwealth. They look at it, and when it’s approved, it’s released to the public.”

The current course list is a deep dive into key construction issues: “Building an Airtight House,” “Energy Code Overview,” “Avoiding Costly Building Mistakes,” “Lead Safety Isn’t Just About Lead Paint,” and “Fall Prevention and Silica Exposure” are just a few of the topics.

“The reviews have been superlative,” White said. “They’ve picked some really great individuals who not only know their trade, but have great communication skills and keep up to date.”

He called continuing education the “lifeblood of decision making” for construction supervisors.

“On the job, if you make the wrong decision, people could get hurt, or something could leak, or something might not be up to code. They have a lot on the line. That’s why it’s important to have to be the best-educated, most experienced individuals in this profession. The college is just happy to be a part of it.”

Anytime, Anywhere

Crane said the HBRA is still teaching about 100 people a month at its headquarters in Springfield, but contractors are increasingly choosing the convenience of the online model.

“Some leave the job site and attend a live training,” White added. “But you can get an identical experience taking the same class online around your own schedule.”

Purchasing a class is as simple as logging on to the HBRA website, perusing course options, and paying for them via a secure checkout. A few minutes after payment is processed, the user receives an e-mail with a link to log onto a class at his or her convenience.

Since the online program began in the summer of 2017, it has seen 295 registrations through the portal, White noted, adding that the HBRA of Western Mass. is at the forefront of this type of education in the construction industry.

Ken White says HCC aimed to create an online platform that would be as well-received as the live classes the local HBRA is already known for.

Ken White says HCC aimed to create an online platform that would be as well-received as the live classes the local HBRA is already known for.

“They’re the only ones who have online learning that’s a live video capture of the actual classes, so what students are seeing is a very engaging, identical experience that they can take in smaller portions if they’d like. Whenever they stop, they can get back in back exactly where they left off. And at the very end, there’s a final examination with 20 multiple-choice questions they have to get right to get credit.”

Crane noted that questions need to be answered every 20 minutes or so, too, which ensures that the user actually watches the material.

“The problem with online classes, when they first came out, was that you could literally pay your fee and pay your kid five bucks to pass the test by sitting there doing this,” he said as he mindlessly pressed a button. “Because we’re considered leaders in the industry, we thought that was wrong, so we helped get the rules changed so that, if you want people to learn stuff, you have to create a platform that makes them learn. You take a certain portion of time, maybe 20 minutes, then you’re tested on that 20 minutes. When you pass, you move on to the next 20 minutes. So you get your six hours of credit, you actually have to do six hours.”

After passing the final exam, the user prints a certificate to send in to the state to renew their license.

It works well for many construction professionals, Crane added, though many still prefer to be in a live classroom.

“You can take 12 hours live or do six live and six online. Personally, I don’t like doing things online. In fact, I hate it. I first came here because they offered classes here, downstairs in our conference room. I sat here for two days — there’s no tests when you do it this way; if you’re here 12 hours, they assume you learned.”

To feel the same confidence in an online platform, he said, “we had to build a program that follows the state’s protocol to a T, and make it tough so they’re actually learning something. Our classes are $90 for three classes. For-profit businesses will run that for $29, but they don’t care what you learn. They’re willing to wait for the hammer to drop and then close down, and they don’t care; they’ll just do it to somebody else.”

White said he works with other companies to provide various types of training, both live and online. “But in terms of this particular industry, we’re not aware of anyone else doing this. And the other plus is, with live training, most folks are local supervisors and builders. Online, we have folks as far as Cape Cod, Nantucket, even Cape Coral, Florida. It allows folks, wherever they’re located, to take this and not have to drive a half-day to get here and back and deal with traffic.”

Learning Curve

Even in its live classrooms, Crane noted, the HBRA of Western Mass. has been ahead of the curve.

“If other associations do it, they go get a professor at a college or some local professional and rent a room at the Holiday Inn and run a class,” he said. “Nobody I’m aware of has an online product. We’re the only ones out of the Home Builders Association running an online program. There are bootleg courses online, being taught by people in Arkansas and Canada and California at half the cost, but the content is nowhere near as professional as ours is.”

White said he was impressed by what he saw when he first attended a class in Springfield.

“I was really blown away because it was very professional and intensive, with an incredible amount of information, a lot of interaction between student and instructor, a lot of passion, and all relevant information that helps business owners and construction professionals and supervisors in their day-to-day decision making, whether it’s dealing with OSHA or lead issues or whatever the case may be.

“When I went back to report to my vice president, Jeff Hayden, I told him the instruction is superlative. I said, ‘there’s a lot of engagement, it was interactive — this is perfect for live video capture.”

In the end, he said, HCC and the association have turned out a premium learning experience.

“And it’s due to the folks that Andy hires to teach,” White added. “They’re experts. This isn’t a sideline; it’s what they’ve been doing all their lives. They live this 365 days a year. So folks are really happy about the product the HBRA has put out, and we’re happy to have been selected to partner with them and create these models.”

Crane agreed. “This is a unique partnership that benefits consumers, clients of builders, the state — it benefits everyone who touches this product.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the month of September 2018.

AGAWAM

ICNE Group Realty Inc.
1070 Suffield St.
$14,500 — Roofing

CHICOPEE

City of Chicopee
17 Springfield St.
$2,100 — Add two sprinklers in election and clerk’s vault

Elms College
291 Springfield St.
$328,000 — Replace boiler stack

EASTHAMPTON

CIL Realty of MA Inc.
198 East St.
$31,500 — Install exterior door and spiral staircase to existing deck

Lachenauer, LLC
6 Prospect St.
$4,100 — Insulation and air sealing

EAST LONGMEADOW

Aspen Dental
434 North Main St.
$3,150 — Remove bathroom

Chipotle
42 Center Square
$380,326 — Commercial fit-out

Verizon Wireless
331 Prospect St.
$30,000 — Replace antennas

A Wondering Spirit
169 Shaker Road
$2,000 — Minor interior renovation

GREENFIELD

Buff Beagle Holdings, LLC
330 Chapman St.
$1,519 — Install sprinkler monitoring south building for King’s Gym

Aaron Demaio
5 Park St.
$282,000 — Renovate interior, repair and renovation of roofing, siding, windows, and doors for dental office

Franklin First Federal Credit Union
57 Newton St.
Install new sign with digital temperature display

Jones Properties, LP
21 Mohawk Trail
$22,707 — Remove and replace cabinets, install partition

Adam Martin, Alexandra Martin
341 Plain Road
$21,700 — Construct cow barn

Judith Stein
70 Federal St.
$9,000 — Repair storefront of Tim’s Barber Shop due to car driving into it

Town of Greenfield
125 Federal St.
$2,695 — Construct walls to cover brickwork for room in basement

Town of Greenfield
298 Federal St.
$200,000 — Install new roof, windows, thermal envelope, elevator shaft, stairwells, and doors

Town of Greenfield
Federal Street
Erect two free-standing signs for Shattuck Park

Town of Greenfield
42 Grove St.
Replace two free-standing signs for Hillside Park

Town of Greenfield
Parkway Street
Erect two free-standing signs for Highland Park

HADLEY

Pride Convenience Inc.
19 Russell St.
$12,000 — New ground sign for Tesla

Pride, LP
25 Russell St.
$6,000 — Install kitchen exhaust hood, including ductwork

W/S Hadley Properties II, LLC
337 Russell St.
$3,000 — Change faces on pylon sign at Michael’s

W/S Hadley Properties II, LLC
337 Russell St.
$50,000 — Replace sliding doors with new swing doors in vestibule of Old Navy and extend vestibule two feet inside store

LONGMEADOW

Franconia Golf Course
617 Dwight Road
$236,449 — Post-and-beam pavilion on concrete slab

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
56 Hopkins Place
$3,536 — Fence

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
489 Longmeadow St.
$20,000 — Modify equipment for Sprint

NORTHAMPTON

B’Nai Israel Congregational
257 Prospect St.
$2,500 — Remove section of wall between classrooms, reframe and install interior door

Max Hebert
46 Round Hill Road
$20,000 — Remove block fill windows and all interior mechanicals at boiler house

Hospital Hill Development, LLC
Prince Street
$74,877 — Roof-mounted solar on ServiceNet building

Michael’s House, LLC
71 State St.
$269,000 — Roofing

P + Q, LLC
114 Main St.
$5,000 — Alter stairwell

Smith College
44 College Lane
$78,000 — Construct temporary animal lab

Smith College
2 Tyler Dr.
$123,000 — Repair water-damaged drywall, flooring, paint, and floor framing in McConnell Hall

Trak Petroleum, LLC
54 Easthampton Road
Reface existing ground sign for Racing Mart

Valley Building Co. Inc.
206 King St.
$15,000 — Frame and drywall partition walls, install interior doors and trim

PALMER

Baystate Wing Hospital
40 Wright St.
$9,500 — Replace hospital logo sign

Baystate Wing Hospital
40 Wright St.
$5,680 — Replace Emergency Department sign

Black Bay Ventures IV, LLC
22 Mt. Dumplin St.
$37,650 — Roof replacement at Palmer Foundry

Stambaugh Realty, LLC
1028 Thorndike St.
Addition to VCA Animal Hospital

SPRINGFIELD

1095 Main St. Irrevocable Trust
1095 Main St.
$8,000 — Alter tenant space

Baystate Health
3350 Main St.
$35,285 — Alter space in first-floor room of D’Amour Cancer Center for office use

Big Y Foods Inc.
90 Memorial Dr.
$20,000 — Remove and replace three cellular antennas for T-Mobile

Purna Chhetri
63 Beaumont St.
$3,580 — Erect walls in basement for bathroom and storage area, and install interior door

Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society Inc.
171 Union St.
$84,726 — Install 75 modules of rooftop solar at Dakin Clinic

Dask Partnership
90 Carando Dr.
$485,000 — Alter tenant space for use as autism spectrum therapy

Virginia Ellis Golemba
892 Main St.
$20,000 — Amend permit for new contractor

Five Town Station, LLC
270 Cooley St.
$50,000 — Alter retail tenant space for Verizon

Gateway Hardware
142 Boston Road
$41,705 — Alter space for mercantile/store

Marylyn Rove LL1
1 Allen St.
$20,000 — Replace six cellular antennas, replace three remote radio heads and install nine new remote radio heads

McDonald’s Corp.
809 Boston Road
$300,000 — Alter interior space at McDonald’s restaurant, including restroom upgrade, new front counter and finishes, and renovation of dining area

Patrick Spagnoletti, Laipeng Spagnoletti
67 Texel Dr.
$22,000 — Addition to front of attached garage

Springfield Redevelopment Authority
55 Frank B. Murray St.
$19,000 — Build enclosure over existing elevator shaft servicing platform C at Union Station

Tinkham Management
66 Industry Ave.
$247,000 — Alter tenant office space for Greater Springfield Senior Services

Western New England Children’s Center Inc.
34 Chapin Terrace
$2,800 — Alter reception area into office space at Ronald McDonald House

WEST SPRINGFIELD

1050 Main St., LLC
1050 Main St.
$8,730 — Apply foam to underside of corrugated steel roof to deaden sound transmittance

Hampden Charter School of Science
485 Main St.
$20,000 — Convert existing space into ADA-compliant bathroom and add handicap-accessible ramp to outside of building

Town of West Springfield
429 Moran Road
$90,000 — Install retaining wall and new paver patio at back of building, install fencing and sitting area with pergola at top of wall, new ADA sidewalk to lower parking lot, and driveway paving

Town of West Springfield
357 Piper Road
$10,000 — Construct two interior partition walls with doors for teen center

Van Deene Medical Building Partnership
75 Van Deene Ave.
$80,900 — Interior renovations

WILBRAHAM

Armory Property Management
4 Opal St.
$12,925 — New roofing and one window

Construction

Creating a Solid Foundation

This lake home in Westhampton

This lake home in Westhampton is one of the many projects in Keiter Builders’ portfolio of residential projects.

While earning his master’s degree in finance at the University of Rhode Island, Scott Keiter wasn’t thinking about using it to manage his own construction company. But after a dose of the ‘real world,’ as he called it, while working for an insurance company, his passion for carpentry took his career in a completely different direction. In a short decade, Keiter Builders has constructed a solid business foundation and a diverse portfolio of projects across several disciplines.

Scott Keiter likes to say his company is what he calls “a typical Valley builder.”

By that, he means it is relatively small, at least when compared to outfits in larger cities, boasts a diverse portfolio — out of necessity and good business sense more than anything else — is agile, and also always looking to add new disciplines to the equation.

Florence-based Keiter Builders is quite atypical, however, in that it is a first-generation company, started just 10 years ago, almost at the height of the Great Recession (we’ll get back to that challenge later), and therefore doesn’t have a long history.

Indeed, most of the builders in the 413 can boast in their ads — and on the sides of their trucks — that they were launched a half-century or more ago. Their principals can talk about starting out working for their fathers, who can talk about starting out working for their fathers.

Scott and Jill Keiter.

There isn’t any of that Keiter Builders, said Scott, who noted that his father is an aerospace engineer and he himself earned a master’s degree in economics at the University of Rhode Island, and while he was earning it, thoughts of putting it to use to manage his own construction company rarely, if ever, entered his mind.

However, and this is a big ‘however,’ Keiter worked as a carpenter during the summer while in high school and college, developed somewhat of a passion for building, and stayed in touch with the industry throughout his education.

“I tried different careers, and between my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree, I went to work for State Farm Insurance in auto claims — that was my introduction to the real world,” he said. “Which wasn’t for me; when I got my master’s degree, I decided I needed a break and went back to carpentry.”

To move the story along, things “progressed,” as he put it, deploying a word he would use early and often, and Keiter Builders started to establish a foothold and begin its transformation into, well, a typical Valley builder.

Download the PDF: List of General Contractors

Today, as noted, it is diverse, specializing in commercial, residential, and institutional work, with clients including Smith College and Amherst College, a number of smaller businesses in and around Paradise City, and the city of Northampton itself — Keiter is currently handling a number of projects within Look Park, for example.

As much as Scott Keiter is into building dwellings, commercial spaces, and softball diamonds, among other things, right now he’s mostly engaged in building his business, a process that, like most, he finds enjoyable, but also quite challenging, given the pressures of what comes day to day.

“One of my challenges is looking ahead,” he explained. “You’re just so busy as a small-business owner, it takes everything you’ve got just to get through the day, but you need to focus on tomorrow as well as today.”

With that in mind, he wants to continuously expand the portfolio, and he’s doing that through various initiatives, everything from investments in the ‘heavy construction division,’ as he called it, which is pursuing subsurface utility work, trenching, and heavy civil projects, to efforts toward gaining certification to handle work for the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, or DCAM, which would enable it to pick up work at UMass Amherst and other state-run facilities (more on all that later).

For this issue and its focus on construction, BusinessWest turns the spotlight on Keiter Builders, a comparatively young firm that has constructed a solid business foundation and is looking to continue building upon it.

By the Booklet

As part of those business-building efforts he described, Keiter said the company has become more aggressive in its efforts to promote its brand.

Like most all builders, large and small, word-of-mouth referrals have always been the most effective marketing tool, but the company has added another component with a slick promotional brochure that Keiter and his staff, including his wife, Jill, invested considerable time and energy in and are quite proud of.

This booklet does a very effective job of explaining the company’s depth and agility — or that ‘progression,’ as Keiter described it, while detailing not only what it does, but also, and perhaps more importantly, how.

Indeed, it devotes pages to the firm’s work to carefully develop a sound pre-construction strategy and manage the construction process and meet the most fundamental of objectives in this highly competitive business — finishing on time and to the specifications set by the client.

But it mostly focuses on wide array of projects in the portfolio.

That list includes everything from a telescope observatory dome at Smith College to the memorial fountain at Look Park; from the Valentine Hall rooftop deck at Amherst College to the work at Roberto’s restaurant in Northampton; from the new Northampton offices of the law firm Bacon Wilson to the Convino Wine Bar in Thornes Marketplace.

It also includes an addition and renovation to the optical studios almost directly across Main Street in Florence from the Keiter offices, as well as a host of new homes, remodelings, and additions.

Overall, that brochure shows a great deal of progression in a decade and how quickly the company has been able to establish itself within this market.

And remember, it started at the height of the recession. Well, sort of.

“We weren’t really a construction company at that time,” said Keiter, adding that the enterprise amounted to him handling a wide array of carpentry work. “We went out and just built a network of clients, and kept at it.”

By that he meant, well, a lot of things, including taking whatever jobs he could get, eventually adding his first employee and then more as the project list grew — “we’re really fortunate to have an excellent group of craftsmen working for us” — and lots of hard work building the solid relationships that are the very bedrock of this sector.

The softball field at Smith College

This relationship-building ability is clearly evident in the list of projects the company is currently handling, including several smaller initiatives at both Smith and Amherst Colleges, for which Keiter has already handled a number of assignments, and ongoing work at Look Park — which is in the midst of a comprehensive capital-improvement project. Renovation of Pines Theater is among the current initiatives.

There are a also a few residential projects ongoing, as well as a new building to support teen housing being developed by a Greenfield-based group called Dial/Self, said Keiter, adding that the company continues to build on the relationships it has forged in its early years while also establishing new ones.

“I don’t think there’s a defining moment over the past 10 years when it comes to how we’ve arrived here,” Keiter explained. “We try to take a long-term approach to our work as it relates to the quality, but also the relationships, and that’s really paid off for us.”

He offered Smith College as an example.

“We’ve been working with them for about six years,” he explained. “We started off doing very small projects, and we’ve just earned their respect and worked our way up to being involved with larger projects. As a first-generation company, we have to consistently prove our value.”

The company currently handles work within a relatively small geographic radius — roughly 15 miles from its Florence base, by Keiter’s estimates — but it is looking to expand that reach as well as its list of core competencies.

Keiter Builders handled renovations of the common area at Amherst College, one of its many institutional clients.

Indeed, Keiter, as noted, is currently investing in a heavy-construction division — a subsidiary of the company, actually — based in Hatfield. This division pursues work with utilities and larger contractors and focus on excavating, trenching, and site work, and it has been growing steadily, said Keiter.

Such diversification is important, especially for a sector so profoundly impacted by downturns in the economy.

“We need to stay engaged in many different disciplines,” he explained. “Sometimes, when commercial or institutional is a little slow, the residential fills the gaps. We really enjoy all the different kinds of projects; it keeps us sharp.”

Meanwhile, the company now owns a number of properties in the Northampton area and will look to develop them, said Keiter, adding that he’s eyeing a mix of commercial and residential development opportunities.

Then there’s the process of becoming DCAM-certified, which, Keiter said, should open a number of doors, including the large one involving UMass Amherst.

“We’re starting to enter the public arena,” he told BusinessWest, adding that DCAM certification should be a catalyst for growth within the heavy-construction division as well as the traditional contracting side of the venture.

Building a Legacy

Keiter, who has young children, said that someday, maybe his company can be one of those that boasts multiple generations of ownership and a half-century of history.

“I really enjoy building the business — it’s a pleasure to build a legacy,” he explained. “My hope is that maybe, sometime down the line, there will be a second generation.”

For now, he’s focused on that business- and legacy-building process, and said the formula for doing that is pretty straightforward.

“You have to keep grinding and building a reputation,” he explained. “And in our industry, there are no shortcuts to doing that.”

Indeed, there’s just hard work — on the job site and in creating and strengthening relationships. And success in those realms has enabled Keiter to come a in way in a short decade.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Construction

New Life for an Old Building

Begun almost two years ago, a massive, $50 million project to convert the structure at Springfield Technical Community College, formerly part of the Springfield Armory complex, known as Building 19 into a new learning commons is moving rapidly toward its conclusion. Used more than 150 years ago to warehouse gun-barrel stocks, the building will become home to a wide variety of facilities and services — from the library to the admissions office; from common areas to learning spaces — and should be ready for occupancy late this fall, said Socha.

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the months of May and June 2018.

AGAWAM

Baldwin Street Realty, LLC
253 Silver St.
$1,700,000 — Build warehouse and office facility

CH Realty VII/CG Mact Bird, LLC
6 Lealand Ave.
$2,200 — Install two wall signs on building

CHICOPEE

Dimeo Properties
70 Broadway St.
$8,400 — Strip and re-roof pavilion

Elms College
291 Springfield St.
$45,000 — Demolish and remove power house chimney

Viktor Lapik
425-429 Front St.
$12,000 — Roofing, install windows, build deck

Prem, LLC
1175 Grattan St.
$10,000 — Repair building after car strike

Solenis, LLC
1111 Grattan St.
$40,850 — Roofing

Stephen Reilly Sr.
29 Grove Ave.
$23,495 — Install new siding

DEERFIELD

Deerfield Academy
4 Little River Road
$397,000 — Reslate roof on Barton dorm

Deerfield Academy
114 Old Main St.
$12,000 — Repairs to house and garage

PVMA
107 Old Main St.
$7,000 — Insulate exterior walls and attic slopes

EAST LONGMEADOW

Cartamundi
443 Shaker Road
$438,000 — Roofing

HADLEY

63 East Realty, LLC
63 East St.
$13,500 — Remove half-walls in reception area and fix ceiling at River Valley Dental

Shipman Realty Trust
140 Russell St.
$10,500 — Replace six windows at Greenfield Savings Bank

LUDLOW

Basics Mini Mart
192 East St.
$1,500 — Illuminated sign

Dowd Insurance Agency
563 Center St.
$4,800 — Illuminated sign

SPRINGFIELD

Albany Road – Springfield Plaza, LLC
1284 St. James Ave.
$77,000 — Alter tenant space for Quest Diagnostics

Baystate Medical Center
3350 Main St.
$367,000 — Alter interior space for new linear accelerator in D’Amour Cancer Center

Blue Tarp Redevelopment, LLC
12 MGM Way
$144,915 — Tenant fit-out for Western Mass News at MGM Springfield

Blue Tarp Redevelopment, LLC
99 Union St.
$640,000 — Alter existing building for use as maintenance shops for MGM Springfield

CH Realty VII/CG Mact Bird, LLC
827 East Columbus Ave.
$15,000 — Exterior facade modifications and new entry arcade

City of Springfield
1600 East Columbus Ave.
$1,200 — Alterations for new office space on second floor of City Hall annex building

Aurelio Daniele
883 Main St.
$240,000 — Repair fascia and install covered outside dining at La Fiorentina’s

Frank DeMarinis
339 State St.
$3,820,000 — Alter interior space for use by Conservatory of the Arts School

Lingo Associates, LLC
20 Carando Dr.
$650,000 — Install structural foundation and slab for refrigeration vessel skid for Smithfield Foods

Walgreen Eastern Co. Inc.
615 Chestnut St.
$60,000 — Alter space to install compounding room at Walgreens pharmacy

WEST SPRINGFIELD

DDR Riverdale Shops, LLC
935 Riverdale St.
$66,413 — Roofing

DDR Riverdale Shops, LLC
935 Riverdale St.
$177,000 — Remodel storefront for existing tenant

Key Bank
1063 Riverdale St.
$74,537 — Interior renovation, including ceiling replacement, finishes, and alteration to entrance for ADA compliance

Purple Diamond Realty
80 Baldwin St.
$25,000 — Install new siding, windows, and front porch

Shechtman
124 Ashley Ave.
$9,000 — Roofing

Work & Gear
218 Memorial Ave.
$3,000 — Install new anchor bolts for new wooden plate for roofer, repair parapet wall cap

WILBRAHAM

Cumberland Farms
105 Post Office Park
$30,000 — Signage

Stony Hill Road Realty, LLC
805 Stony Hill Road
$25,000 — Replace three antennas