August 2011

Construction Firm Building America’s Transit Future

by Janna Starcic, Executive Editor

Alameda, Calif.-based general engineering contractor, Stacy and Witbeck Inc., began heavy civil construction in San Francisco in 1981. Within a short time, the company, whose operations also included track work, soon became recognized as one of the West Coast's leading contractors in light rail, commuter rail and streetcar construction. Today, the company does an estimated $450 million a year in revenue and is listed by Engineering News Record (ENR) magazine as the 103rd largest contractor in the country. The employee-owned firm has just under 200 salaried people and upwards of 400 to 600 in craft.

What makes the company unique is it is only involved in transit projects.

"Within those transit projects, we are not just a track contractor," says President/CEO John Bollier. "We do a lot of heavy civil work, where we build the roads, bridges, walls and the underground work - anything that pertains to a transit project."

Bollier, who has been with the company since 1986 when he joined as an intern, has seen many changes in the transit construction industry over the years. In addition to higher costs for projects, they are also larger in scope. "In the '80s and '90s, a large job would be about $50 million, a $100 million. Today, they are $500 million to $1 billion size," he says.

Sustainability
Other changes in the industry include the implementation of sustainability initiatives, with a growing awareness only happening in the last 10 to 15 years, Bollier says. Stacy and Witbeck works with design engineers and owners to add sustainable elements to a transit project.

On some projects, the company gives out transit passes, so employees don't have to drive to work. The company has implemented an idling policy for their vehicles and heavy equipment,  utilizes biodiesel fuels when available and is in the early stages of construction for a new home office that will meet LEED Gold Certification.

"We are also just getting involved in APTA's Sustainability program," Bollier says, adding that Stacy and Witbeck goes further with the concept "by creating and sustaining opportunities for minority subcontractors and training people in the workforce to sustain them within the construction environment."

Bollier says that people are drawn to the company because of the long-term impacts that transportation projects have on communities.

"That they are making a difference is definitely a driver for recruiting individuals or grads within the last 10 years," says Bollier


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