Page 17 - BusinessWest May 13, 2024
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nessWest, especially in the realm of technology. “We’re seeing a rapid adoption of technology into construc- tion. We’re probably in the early stages of a very fast- changing scene within the construction industry. And I think it’s important for companies to be nimble enough to move with that change, and we’re heavily invested in that.”
DOC is equally invested in wastewater and drink- ing-water facilities, which now account for about 40% of its work, with the other 60% falling mostly into the education sector, but also healthcare, hospitality, senior living, and other areas. With two offices in Massachu- setts and one each in Connecticut, New York, and Flor- ida, it’s also looking to expand geographically.
David Fontaine Jr., CEO of Fontaine Bros., has also had a hand in plenty of large-scale public work, as well as helping to shape the landscape of downtown Springfield, from the MassMutual Center project 20 years ago to the recent conversion of the former Court Square Hotel into market-rate apartments.
“It’s great to see the momentum that’s generating for the area,” he said, adding that high schools and col- leges have been another mainstay, with work at Deer- field Academy, Wilbraham Monson Academy, and a host of other schools, as well as healthcare projects for clients like Baystate Health and Mercy Medical Center. “We intentionally keep a mix of work in public and pri- vate sectors. The public sector is a little less sensitive to the ups and downs of interest rates.
“Almost 70% of our work is with repeat clients, so that’s important,” Fontaine added. “When there are fewer projects out there and they’re more difficult to get, we see fierce competition for every project we’re going after. But even with that fierce competition, we’ve won six of the last seven projects we competed for. We attribute a lot of that to those repeat relationships.”
When Joe Marois opened the South Hadley-based construction firm that bears his name in 1972, busi-
ness was conducted differently, and he was discour- aged to see some of that fall away.
“It was a complete joy. A lot of the work we did ini- tially was, believe it or not, on a handshake. We were doing colleges and private work, a lot of the mills, very little public work. But there was an abundance of work, and we had large crews, and it was a different time.”
Heightened competition in the private sector, how- ever, eventually shifted the dynamic.
“As people started seeing what we were doing, they started migrating into our area to the point where the profits became problematic for us. So we migrated into the public sector. And that’s a lot more difficult — it’s permitting-intense, it’s paperwork ... the process is very difficult. We’re dealing with engineers who have to deal themselves with peer review, which increases the requirements for the project substantially. We’ve had
to use attorneys more in the last 20 years than in prior years just to make sure we cross our Ts and so forth.”
Ryan Pelletier, project manager for Houle Construc- tion in Ludlow, said his firm has been focused for more than 30 years on the healthcare and hospital industry.
“That’s been our mainstay, our bread and butter. We do other things, all kinds of commercial work. But 90%, of what we do is healthcare by virtue of our repeat customers.”
His father, company President Tim Pelletier, arrived at Houle as an estimator back in 1989, working for company founder Ray Houle. At the time, the firm was building Friendly’s and Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants
up and down the East Coast, as both were in serious growth mode.
Later, “Ray saw some opportunities in healthcare, and also, some of the guys were settling down with wives and kids, and fewer of them wanted to do the traveling,” Ryan said. “So the team leaned into the healthcare sector. They found some idiosyncrasies and
“When there are fewer projects out there and they’re more difficult to get, we see fierce competition for every project we’re going after.”
DAVID FONTAINE JR.
   WE GREW UP
TOGETHER
 Congratulations on 40 years!
Over the past 40 years, Fontaine has constructed and renovated some of Springfield’s most historic landmarks and state-of-the-art facilities. We are proud to have helped shape the face of the city and look forward to building on that legacy.
510 Cottage Street, Springfield, MA 01104
12 East Worcester Street, Worcester, MA 01604 413-781-2020 | fontainebros.com
MASS MUTUAL CENTER
SPRINGFIELD, MA
 31 ELM COURT SQUARE APARTMENTS
SPRINGFIELD, MA
  DEBERRY- SWAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
SPRINGFIELD, MA
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