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Alberici Corporation is an employee-owned corporate parent of nearly 20 construction subsidiaries, the largest of which is Alberici Constr uction Company. The St. Louis-based company is diversified geographic ally as well as in capabilities, allowing it the potential to prosper no matter what the economic conditions. With regional offices in Ont ario, Canada, Michigan, West Virginia, and Georgia. Alberici offers a full range of construction services for general contracting, constru ction management, and design-build projects. It also offers special c onstruction services, including steel fabrication and erection, heavy demolition, rigging and heavy lifting, and equipment installing and relocation. Among the markets Alberici serves are automotive manufact uring, energy, food and beverage, healthcare, pharmaceutical, marine, industrial, and water/wastewater. The company also owns a massive fl eet of equipment, valued at more than $100 million. Alberici is r anked in the top 50 of U.S. contractors with annual sales in excess o f $600 million.
Alberici Corporation was founded in St. Louis in 1918 as J.S. Alberic i Construction Company by John Stanislaus Alberici, an immigrant from the wine country of northern Italy. Alberici launched the business i n his mid-40s after managing the construction of a bank building in S t. Louis for a New York firm. The clients were so pleased with his wo rk they urged him to start his own contracting business. As a further inducement he was allowed to set up shop in an extra office of The B oatmen's National Bank. J.S. Alberici Construction Company specialize d in concrete contracting, and it wasn't until 1923 that Alberici tra ded in his horse and wagon for a truck.
In 1928 Alberici was joined in business by his 18-year-old son Gabrie l, who initially attended Washington University's engineering school at night before the long hours demanded by his father proved to onero us for studies as well. The younger Alberici would eventually graduat e from the American School of Welding in 1932. In the early days, how ever, he generally started his 16-hour days by reporting to a constru ction site at 3 a.m. to set it up for the day's work. On Sunday, his only day off, he and his father helped friends in the Italian distric t of St. Louis, known as The Hill, as they constructed their homes bi t by bit, whenever they had saved enough money to buy more materials. "My father was a stern guy," Alberici told the St Louis Business Journal, in a 1996 profile. "I loved him but you didn't stray far from the course. He showed me how to work hard and make it into a ro utine."
Gabriel Alberici assumed an increasing amount of responsibility in th e 1930s, especially in the area of equipment investments. The roots o f the firm's $100 million fleet were planted during this period. Like his father and their immigrant friends, he loathed to borrow mon ey. In fact, throughout its history the company took out just one loa n, for $20,000, and it was repaid within the year. During the 193 0s Alberici Corporation landed one of its first high-profile jobs, th e $100,000 contract in 1939 to provide stonework and walkways for the Muny Opera building in St. Louis. With the profits the company w as able to purchase its first crane for $2,000.
A New Generation of Leadership in 1940
The elder Alberici died in 1940, leaving the business to 31-year-old Gabriel and his younger sister Mary. A graduate of the Washington Uni versity School of Business in 1933, she forged a partnership with her brother to run the business their father had founded. Essentially he ran the outside of the company and she ran the inside, and by all ac counts she maintained a tight ship. Gabriel was president of the firm , while Mary served as secretary and treasurer. A few years later, in 1946, key employees gained a stake in the business when Alberici Cor poration became an employee-owned entity, with the Alberici family st ill retaining majority ownership. When employee-stockholders left the company or retired, they were required to sell back their stock. For the employees who did not own stock, a profit sharing plan was insti tuted. Not many of the stockholders left before retiring, however, as many opted to stay with the company for their entire work careers. F or her part, Mary Alberici retired in 1960.
The 1950s was a period of diversification for J.S. Alberici. From the beginning the company prided itself on completing projects on time a nd on budget, but after a pair of projects were delayed because a loc al fabricator failed to deliver steel, the company in 1952 built its own fabrication plant. This would expand over time into a 200,000 squ are-foot facility, becoming not only one of the largest steel fabrica tion plants in the Midwest but one of the most sophisticated in the e ntire country. A year later, that capability would begin to be put to use as Alberici Corporation entered the automotive plant constructio n market when General Motors decided to build a plant in the St. Loui s area. Later Alberici would win contracts to build facilities in St. Louis from the two other members of Detroit's Big Three automakers, Chrysler and Ford. Another new area of business begun in the 1950s wa s highway construction, which in the postwar era was deemed a nationa l security issue. Both the federal and state governments invested hea vily in the construction of highways. Alberici got its start in 1955 by working on the Third Street Highway that cut through the heart of St. Louis.
Diversification continued in the 1960s. A vice-president named Raymon d F. Pieper recognized that air pollution control held great potentia l for the construction industry, at a time when the need for clean ai r and clean water was becoming a major concern in the United States. He began going after some projects outside of St. Louis. His first su ccessful bid was for a retrofit for a central Illinois public service company. Next Alberici did some power plant maintenance work, which set the stage for the construction of power plants. Gaining experienc e incrementally, Alberici was able to develop its current expertise i n the energy and water/wastewater fields.
Other developments in the 1960s included the introduction of the indu stry's first 16-cubic-yard capacity roll-on/roll-off dumpster contain er, which was used to more efficiently clean up job sites. The compan y also launched its first formal construction safety program. The red uction in accidents resulted in lower insurance costs. At the end of the 1960s the company moved to a new 65-acre site, large enough to ac commodate future growth.
In 1976 Pieper became the first non-member of the Alberici family to be named company president. Gabriel Aberici retained the chairmanship and remained actively involved in the business, still coming to work in the early morning hours and opening the office at 5:30 each day. Pieper had never worked anywhere else in his life. After graduating f rom Washington University with a civil engineering degree in 1949, he went to work for Alberici as a field engineer and began to work his way up the ranks of the company's hierarchy. The 1970s was also marke d by the company's entry into yet another field: Marine. In 1979 J.S. Alberici landed a $212 million, 15-year project to build the Alt on Lock & Dam No. 26 at the confluence of the Illinois River and Mississippi River in Alton, Illinois.
Expansion continued in the 1980s for Alberici. In 1983 it acquired Ge neral Installation Company, a mechanical contracting business that in stalled commercial piping and heating and air-conditioning systems. T he company also began to expand geographically, opening an office in Denver and at the end of the decade a Detroit office. While the Denve r office would be closed in 1990, and Alberici shied away from the Su n Belt states, where it would have to contend with competition from n on-union contractors, it would enjoy strong success out of Detroit, w here it landed a number of significant contracts with automakers for plants in the Great Lakes area and Canada. The company also worked on projects in Mexico through a joint partnership and looked increasing ly overseas for new opportunities. In 1991, for instance, it won a &# 36;50 million contract to build more than 1,000 apartments in Israel. It was also during this period that Pieper launched a management tra ining program, primarily to groom the company's ranks of middle manag ers. Alberici had enjoyed long-term stability in its management ranks , but as key members grew older it became increasingly important to m ake sure there would be a new generation of leaders capable of taking charge. This need was made evident in 1991 when Pieper elected to re tire when he turned 65. His replacement as president was 60-year-old Edward L. Calcaterra, but 80-year-old Gabriel Alberici continued to c ome into the office each day. Calcaterra served as president until 19 96 when at the age of 66 he too retired, albeit a year later than he had planned in order to complete some major projects. One of those yo unger managers groomed in the management training program was 45-year -old Robert F. McCoole, who had joined the company in the early 1980s . Several months prior to Calcaterra's announced retirement, McCoole was one of five younger executives promoted to senior vice-president who formed an executive committee intended to lead the company into t he future.
Diversification helped Alberici to weather a recession in the early 1 990s that in particular limited the number of major projects in the S t. Louis area. Retrenchment was in order, however, and some subsidiar ies were shut down or sold. General Installation, for example, was di ssolved in 1994. As a result, Alberici was able to focus on its core construction business. Business began to pick up as the economy rebou nded in the 1990s. Revenues totaled $333 million in 1993, then su rged to $659 million in 1994, due in large measure to renovations made by General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler to Detroit plants. As the Big Three also became more global in their reach, opening plants aro und the world, Alberici followed them, building a Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee assembly plant in Argen- tina. Later in the 1990s it built an engine plant in Brazil as part of a joint venture project between DaimlerChrysler Corporation and BMW. In 1998 the firm began construct ion on an engine plant in Mexico for Ford, and in that same year bega n construction on a plant in Guanajuato, Mexico, for American Axle &a mp; Manufacturing. Alberici also looked to the domestic market in 199 8, opening an office in Atlanta, bringing the number of regional offi ces to three.
Gabriel Alberici remained active in the company his father founded un til 1999 when he reached the age of 90. He lived until December 2002, passing away from natural causes at his home at the age of 93, outli ving his wife of 61 years by seven years. Five months earlier his 91- year-old sister Mary died from complications of pneumonia in a nursin g center. Although Gabriel Alberici's son, John S. Alberici, succeede d his father as chairman of the company, the direct ties to the found ing of the family business were severed. Nevertheless, Alberici conti nued to follow the hard-working tradition established by an Italian i mmigrant nearly a century earlier.
With the economy lapsing into recession in the early 2000s, Alberici was once again well served by its long-term commitment to diversifica tion. That trend continued in the new century. Alberici Global Group GmbH was formed in 2002 as a holding company for international busine ss, mostly performed for U.S. clients and involving a partnership wit h a company already working in that country. In the United States, an other regional office was opened in West Virginia in 2003. Alberici C orp. launched a new business called Vertegy in 2005 to provide design , procurement, and construction consulting services for green and sus tainable facilities, the outgrowth of work the company did on its new corporate headquarters that it billed as one of the "greenest" headq uarters in the country.
Principal Subsidiaries: Alberici Group, Inc.; Alberici Constru ctors, Inc.; Alberici Industrial LLC; Gunther-Nash, Inc.; Alberici Gl obal Group GmbH. Alberici Healthcare Constructors.
Principal Competitors: Fluor Corporation; McCarthy Building Co mpanies, Inc.; Washington Group International, Inc.
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