The Collavino Group has several advantages in the competitive Northeast market, starting with its diversity. The organization consists of three major companies: PCR Contractors, a general contracting, construction management and design/build firm with a strategic focus on the Ontario market; Collavino Construction Co., a general contractor specializing in heavy civil contracts, as well as a prime subcontractor for large cast-in-place projects with an international project scope; and International Precast Solutions (IPS), a Detroit-based structural and architectural precast manufacturer catering to both Canada and the United States.
“Each company within our group has its own distinct advantages that provide some stability to deal with economic downturns, such as the recent one we have seen and continue to face in both the U.S. and Canadian marketplaces,” Vice President of Operations Dellsie Buchanan-Sova says. “This diversity allows us to see the changes from different angles, and there has been a definite shift from the volume of work available in the private vs. public sectors.
“We are finding that many privately owned construction projects are being delayed or stopped due to the lack of ability to raise necessary funds,” she continues. “On the flip side, due to the direction of government monies into infrastructure projects, we are seeing a major increase in publicly funded projects. However, whether private or public, the common theme is that today’s marketplace is fiercely competitive. As a contractor, it is more important than ever to maximize utilization of our resources and properly assess the right projects for our group.”
“At this time in Ontario, Canada, the institutional, recreational and transportation sectors seem to be the strongest,” Marketing Director Paula Collavino notes. “With the help of government funding or assistance, many of these projects have come to the bidding table. PCR and IPS have been affected by the fierce competition in the construction and precast industries. When the economy had slowed to almost a halt, it was imperative that PCR make projects happen rather than wait for them to come to bid. All of the companies are diversified, and as a group, they bring a unique service to the table for a potential project. Our vast experience has allowed us to make our clients happy.”
Although The Collavino Group enjoys unique advantages in the construction industry, it also faces some distinct disadvantages. Catering to both the U.S. and Canadian markets has allowed the company to see the impact of a fluctuating U.S. dollar. “We never would have anticipated such significant swings in the foreign exchange rates as we have seen in the past several years,” Buchanan-Sova says. “Material costs have been a moving target in this industry over the course of the past few years. Fluctuation of steel, lumber and powder prices have been significant. Our projects typically stem over a longer timeframe and, as a result, these fluctuations directly impact the project margins.”
“Labor is always an issue at the beginning of the project for Collavino Construction because of the projects never being in the same area,” Collavino adds. “As for PCR and IPS, they have both been able to retain a great work force that has allowed them to be successful. Our experience serves us well by managing the projects in a more efficient manner and our cost savings measures taken to balance out the cost increase of certain materials or labor.”
Buchanan-Sova illustrates Collavino Construction’s participation in the reconstruction of the World Trade Center-Tower One in New York City to illuminate Collavino’s point. “With its current project currently underway in New York, Collavino has been extremely fortunate to have been able to attract and retain a top-notch team that takes pride in its work,” she says. “It is the prime subcontractor for the cast-in-place concrete superstructure. This is such a landmark project with incredible meaning internationally.”
PCR and IPS also have played roles in significant projects. For instance, PCR Contractors began as a small company with a local focus and has steadily worked its way up to larger, more prominent projects, such as the new, $90 million University of Windsor Centre for Engineering Innovation and the $70 million Windsor Family Credit Union Centre (WFCU Centre) in Windsor, Ontario.
“This project was brought to the city of Windsor from the design stage to the completion stage in 18 months and under budget,” Buchanan-Sova says of WFCU Centre. “The company’s ability to bring in the various facets of construction to complete the project is a testament of its experience and knowledge.”
IPS recently was awarded the precast supply contract for a new detention center in Toronto and the new Brooklyn Arena-Barclay Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. In addition, IPS has supplied precast components to projects like the sports arenas Comerica Park and Ford Field in Detroit, and the University of Michigan.
Looking ahead, “There is always room for expansion and learning new construction techniques that will facilitate the construction of a project,” Collavino notes.
“Our group has always been focused on new technologies and methods that improve our processes and product,” Buchanan-Sova adds. “This innovative approach is always at the forefront of every project we tackle. Value-engineering has become an essential part of our business model. Because our group has such vast experience in both breadth and depth, the knowledge gained from each project is invaluable. No project is ever the same. The Northeast market will continue to be a primary focus for us. We have developed and built an excellent team of both management and field personnel that we are confident will ensure continued success.”