Oracle Trucking Inc.

When builders go to work on a site with contaminated soil, the dirt may have to be removed but that does not mean it has to go directly to a landfill. Instead, Oracle Trucking Inc. is in the business of helping that soil find a new life elsewhere.

Based in Lyndhurst, N.J., the company provides management, removal, disposal and transportation services for these contaminated materials. President Marina Rodrigues started the company in February 2005.

Previously, Rodrigues had worked as a wine importer, but had gained expertise in construction industry by doing her masters’ thesis on how to bid public projects. When she and her husband, Sales Manager Dave Rodrigues, were starting a family, she helped him find projects in her spare time.

“I would go online, see what I could find and let Dave know of any projects that were coming up,” she recalls. “It was just kind of a way to keep myself prepared and ready for when I decided to enter back into the workforce.”

The New Chapter

By the time Rodrigues went back to work and started Oracle, she had developed an interest in the construction industry. “It was always ever-changing,” she explains. “I felt like this was the new chapter in my life.”

One of Oracle’s first jobs involved renting a street sweeper and hiring a driver who traveled the streets of Bayonne, N.J., where a golf course was being built. When Rodrigues made an onsite visit, “I got to meet truck drivers and make a lot of different contacts,” she recalls. “I could see where I could take my company.”

Today, Dave Rodrigues says, Oracle’s services primarily consist of removing the soil so it can be recycled and reused. Usually, when the company takes on a job, its clients will provide analytical information on the soil. “We also have the soil tested ourselves,” Rodrigues adds, explaining that Oracle Trucking employs environmental experts that collect samples for testing and determine where it can take the material. “We find them legally permanent sites that can use this material, in state or out of state.”

This diverts the soil away from landfills and towards such places as quarries, golf courses or mines. “We marry our sites with the most economically beneficial site that we can,” he adds. “We supervise the transportation and disposal of that material, and we make sure it’s properly documented.”

But there have been cases where the material was too dangerous to use again. Rodrigues recalls a project where the company was hired to transport what was believed to be “soil” from parks in the Bronx, N.Y.

“They were under the impression there was nothing wrong with it,” he explains. “But it wasn’t really soil – it was lead contaminated ash.”

After the parks department confirmed the company’s findings with its own testing, “[They] had to shut down the parks,” Rodrigues recalls, noting that Oracle Trucking disposed of the ash and brought in new soil. “You couldn’t have children playing there.”

Success Story

A contributing factor in Oracle Trucking’s success, Marina Rodrigues says, was 2009’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “What that did was reinforce New York City’s infrastructure, because a lot of contracts were coming to rebuild many of the subway stations,” she recalls. 

Rodrigues got the company certified as a minority and woman-owned business and a disadvantaged business. This allowed Oracle “to bid on some of these projects that they wouldn’t have let me bid on before,” she recalls. 

These included the project that gave Oracle Trucking its “first break”: the new World Trade Center for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Oracle Trucking provided its services on the first phase of its Vehicle Security Center to general contractors E.E. Cruz Co. Inc. and Nicholson Construction Co. ”When I started working with them, they gave me the opportunity to sit there and let me prove myself with the waste management and logistics,” Rodrigues recalls.

Not only did the project provide Rodrigues with experience, but it also gave her exposure. “Other companies saw me and saw that I could handle a job of this magnitude,” she says.

It also led to Oracle working on the second phase of the project for Yonkers Contracting Co. Inc. 

“Obviously, we had to bid for it, but they were happy with the performance of our work,” Dave Rodrigues says, noting that the company also worked on the center’s Greenwich Street corridor, its PATH reconstruction and its memorial fountain.

“We were there forever,” he recalls, noting that he personally collected samples. “We determined the material had to go.”

Ranking High

Today, Oracle Trucking has a strong reputation for its work, Rodrigues says. “We’re well known in the industry for being a logistical support and management company,” he says. “Even without physically owning a disposal site, we definitely rank up there in the top 10.”

Oracle Trucking continues to take on large-scale projects like the World Trade Center. “There isn’t a project of that magnitude that we haven’t gotten a call to bid on,” Rodrigues says. “We’ve been at almost every project in [New York City’s] five boroughs.”

These include work at LaGuardia Airport, the demolition of Yankee Stadium and the Second Avenue Subway extension project for the MTA. “We also were involved in many of the landfill closure projects that have taken place in New Jersey,” he says.

Rodrigues praises his clients, including the MTA and Port Authority. “They were very patient with us and they never had a problem with basically sharing their knowledge to help move us along,” he recalls.

“They stayed by our side and made sure everything was done the right way,” he continues. “We want to thank the Port Authority and MTA for guiding us through the whole process.”

Properly Prepared

Oracle Trucking is coping with increased competition in its market. “You’ve got a lot of people that are breaking off from larger environmental companies and trying to be competitors,” Rodrigues describes.

“A lot of these people will bid these jobs very cheaply,” he continues. “We step in when we get calls to come back to [fix] the projects that they started.”

Many of these competitors are not prepared for the complexity of the work, Marina Rodrigues says. “They don’t understand the paperwork,” she says. “They really just give up.”

For example, “The environmental regulations are constantly getting more restrictive,” Dave Rodrigues says. “We have to keep up with the new regulations.”

Oracle Trucking does this by requiring its employees to undergo OSHA training annually. “So when we put people out in the field, we’re not putting out Joe Schmo,” he says. “We’re putting out people that had more than 30 hours of OSHA training.”

Driving Forces

Oracle Trucking maintains a “family oriented” work environment, Rodrigues says. “It’s very hands on,” he says. “We respect all of our employees’ opinions. We also have no problem humbling ourselves and taking advice if it’s merited.”

Rodrigues and his wife are proud of their staff, which includes Office Manager Liz Lopez. “She has been with Marina since day one,” he says. “Both of them are the driving force.”

In 2014, Oracle Trucking reached $12 million in sales. But this year, as the company celebrates its 10-year anniversary, “We’re actually doing better,” Marina Rodrigues reports.

Dave Rodrigues agrees. “It’s been a busy year,” he says. “Last year, we had some large projects that consumed our time. This year, we’ve done multiple small projects that generated more revenue.”

Oracle Trucking sees more growth ahead. “The environmental laws are getting more stringent every day, so there’s a huge potential for a growing business,” he says.

He predicts that the company will stay strong, even in the face of heightened competition. In the last decade, more than 30 opened their doors but ultimately “fell off the face of the earth,” Rodrigues says. “We’re in it for the long haul.

“We’re always involved in taking something bad and reusing it for something good,” he continues, noting that he and his wife take pride in their projects. “We take our children to these sites after they’re done.” 

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