Caton Construction Group (CCG) is a family-owned company offering full-service construction across Virginia and North Carolina for federal, state, local municipality, and private customers. Priding itself on providing quality products without sacrificing workplace or public safety, CCG boasts an unwavering commitment to safety initiatives and continuous training.
Based in Troy, Virginia, CCG is a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) founded by retired major general, Douglas Caton, in 1987. Over its 36-year existence, the company has completed numerous projects with specific expertise in the areas of bridge, highway, and other transportation construction.
Today, the business continues to offer a dynamic range of services including heavy construction, site development, pipe rehab, jack and bore, and commercial and residential construction. Stephen Spagina, Vice President of Safety and Operations at CCG, joins us to discuss the company’s continued growth and commitment to safety.
“We’ve been awarded some amazing work over the last 12 months, and we’re getting close to the finish line on some of our large jobs like the Belmont Bridge project,” he opens. “In that time, we’ve also hired a new Vice President of Operations, added a new estimator to our team, and revitalized our operations in North Carolina to pursue more work across the state.
“We have a mindset of continuous improvement, meaning we’re constantly finding ways to optimize our existing processes to become more efficient. Around four years ago, we set out on a journey to revitalize the company, refining our systems and processes, as well as adding new experts to our teams. It’s been an amazing privilege to watch all the puzzle pieces fall into place over that time. We’ve attracted a lot of great people from a variety of backgrounds, and our values are now consistent across the board from field staff to project managers and superintendents.”
Stephen believes that success is all about people; it takes good people and well-thought-out leadership to achieve ultimate performance, no matter the product or service. “The key to our business is choosing the best people and putting them in the right places with the appropriate responsibilities,” he elaborates. “Every person is different, so we take time to understand individuals’ approach or working style, as well as what motivates them. One thing we do consistently when recruiting is to set clear expectations to ensure people are a suitable fit for us.
“Personally, I wear several hats and I’m always eager to take on additional responsibilities. I grew up working with my hands in the labor industry, as most of my family members are carpenters and construction workers. I worked at a handful of different construction companies before working specifically in safety management. Throughout this time, I began to realize the importance of not only doing things correctly and to a high standard, but also doing those things safely.
“That’s when I became interested in safety, to help people do things right and increase efficiency while prioritizing safety,” Stephen continues. “However, you can’t be safe without also caring about a lot of other things. I’m drawn towards the operational end of construction, as that’s truly where safe production begins. Many companies don’t introduce safety until further down the line, but that’s reactive, whereas being proactive is the best way to ensure safety throughout the entire process.
“As the Vice President of Safety and Operations, I’m involved in decision making and core processes, playing a key role in establishing who we are and what we do from an operational standpoint. It’s where differences are made; it’s exciting and transformative.”
It’s clear that Stephen is genuinely passionate about the company’s safety standards, but how exactly does he translate this message across to the workforce? “If we all agree on our core values and principles, then it should be easy to adhere to them,” Stephen proffers. “One thing we can certainly all agree on is that we want to return home safely after work. We all come to work for a reason, and while earning money is important, having a happy home life to return to each day is often our main motivation.
“We want people to understand these reasons behind our safety measures, so we spend a lot of time and effort explaining the importance of various policies and procedures. We get our managers involved in such conversations too, in an effort to demystify the myths and rumors around safety, ultimately shifting the paradigm of what safety means.
“There are a lot of great safety professionals out there and some really informative programs that I’ve been lucky enough to be part of, which has influenced my own thought process and belief system,” Stephen reflects. “Safety can be very reactive in the construction industry, but it needs to be more proactive. Safety is the responsibility of every individual. Our goal is to get safety professionals involved early to create a helpful, collaborative team relationship.”
Stephen’s collaborative approach is key to ensuring a safe, zero-incident workplace that promotes safety culture in a positive manner. Through leadership, training, planning, and communication, CCG is embracing best practices while still delivering high-quality, efficient projects.
“We want to grow year-on-year at a sustainable pace,” he concludes. “Our goal is to continue to build an efficient team and broaden our reach into North Carolina. We also want to increase our presence in private markets for site development and expand our jack division.”