Greenman-Pedersen Inc.

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GPI celebrates 50 years of satisfying clients in the eastern United States.

By Alan Dorich

Greenman-Pedersen Inc. (GPI) has enjoyed 50 years in the industry by acknowledging the hard work of its employees, President Ralph Csogi says. Not only is the company an ESOP, but it also treats “our employees professionally with a lot of respect for the hard work that they do,” he asserts.

“I believe that each of our employees knows that they’re a critical part of our success,” Csogi states. “All of them share in every dollar that we make.”

Based in Babylon, N.Y., GPI provides transportation engineering, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering planning, surveying, mapping, construction management and inspection services. Founders A. Beecher Greenman and Herbert M. Pedersen started the company in 1966.

Previously, the two men worked for a firm on Long Island but decided they could better serve the industry on their own. “We grew from there,” Csogi says, noting that GPI still operates from its original town location in Babylon. Today, the company employs a staff of 1,440 and enjoyed gross revenues last year of $250 million.

GPI has worked in several states and on many large bridge projects in New York City. Its work on the Manhattan Bridge, which started 33 years ago “led us to be construction manager on project after project,” Csogi says, noting that it has overseen rehabilitation work on all of the city’s suspension bridges.

On the Hudson

GPI is at work the $4 billion New NY Bridge project, which will extend 3.1 miles across the Hudson River. “It’s the largest bridge project in North America,” Csogi declares.

The company is providing construction management (QA) services for general contractor Fluor Corp. “Their customers are the [New York State] Thruway and the New York State Department of Transportation,” he says.

The finished structure will be a dual span bridge, with each span carrying traffic in a different direction. “The first span is scheduled to be open in 2017, and the other in 2018,” Csogi says. “The current bridge will be demolished in 2019.”

The most difficult parts of the project, he notes, have been the foundations. The bridge, he explains, is built with piles that are four-foot diameter. “Some are as long as 365 feet long,” he says. “It has just over 1,000 piles.”

But GPI’s team has prevailed. “There haven’t been any glitches,” Csogi says. “I’m just proud of our guys out there who have worked through some challenging weather conditions on the Hudson.”

Capturing Data

GPI’s services also include survey and asset management, for which it uses a mobile LiDAR, a device for mapping that the company has installed on a van. “We’re able to drive that around, scan the surrounding area and convert that data into 3-D imagery and mapping,” Csogi describes.

The mobile LiDAR emits a laser pulse that reflects back what it has captured. “It is able to put out a million pulses per second,” he continues. “Because of the high pulse rate, we’re able to do this while driving 60 miles an hour down the highway [and] capture quality data.”

This is a safer way to collect data than other methods, he notes. “You don’t have survey teams out there working adjacent to traffic for extended periods of time,” he says, noting that other methods often required lane closures. “You don’t have any traffic interruption [with the LiDAR].”

GPI is using this technology on a project for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, where it is taking images of the different traffic signs on the state highway routes. “We’re able to create a database of every sign they own throughout the state,” Csogi says.

“They can see if the signs are worn and need repair,” he continues, noting that this leads to maintenance projects. “We’ve been at it for about two years and expect to be done by the end of this year.”

A New Way

Fifty percent of GPI’s work consists of construction inspection work, which is typically for government entities and state DOTs, Csogi says. “All the DOTs that we’ve worked with have been up and down the East Coast,” he says.

Recently, more of these projects utilize the design/build or the P3 model, where contractors not only design and build the structure, but also operate it and maintain the facility. “Then, 45 to 50 years later, they will turn it back over and in most cases keep a portion of the revenue for their payment,” Csogi explains.

This shift has resulted in GPI working a bit less for owners and more and more for contractors. “That’s been a new way of doing business,” he says. “Typically, when we would negotiate a contract with an owner, we pretty much knew what they had in mind, but contractor negotiations can be more aggressive.”

Contractors typically focus on pricing and scope. “That’s requiring us to do a lot more upfront work,” he says. “But there’s no guarantee that you’ll win the project.”

The Big 50

This year marks GPI’s 50th anniversary. To celebrate, “Each branch office is going to have their own get-together party,” Csogi says.

The company also will commemorate its anniversary by giving to others. “In the course of 2016, we want to do 50 acts of charity, so each office is going to plan their own events,” he says. These will include participation in walkathons for cancer awareness and drives for the Toys For Tots Foundation.

GPI looks forward to another 50 years, Csogi says. “We’re a very stable company financially,” he says, noting that the company may branch into wastewater projects. “We are looking at a small acquisition of a company that specializes in that work.”

Csogi also wants to continue the company’s growth on the East Coast and the Midwest through acquisitions and more projects. “It could be through transportation or wastewater,” he predicts.

Attractive Opportunities

Greenman-Pedersen Inc. (GPI) added to its services last year with its purchase of ORW, Landscape Architects & Planners, based in Vermont. The company provides consulting services to private development, transportation and public sector clients.

“The opportunity to both enhance our existing design-related services and bring on a great group of people was attractive,” said Christer Ericsson, senior vice president and GPI New England Branch Manager, in a statement. “Bob White, Carolyn Radisch and the ORW team provide world-class services and have an outstanding reputation and excellent relationships throughout New England.”

“This venture is a way to expand our capabilities, market opportunities and to organize ourselves to free up more time for the work we love to do,” ORW co-founder Bob White said. “After 23 years of success, joining a team with the same business approach and values was critical to enhance the services to our clients.”

Making Connections

GPI’s current work includes the replacement of the Ironton-Russell Bridge that connects Ironton, Ohio, with Russell, Ky. GPI is providing construction inspection services on the project, which includes demolition of the existing bridge in summer 2017 after the new one is finished.

The main structure of the bridge, GPI notes, will have 120 cables. “There will be 15 pairs in the Ohio back span, 30 pairs in the main span and 15 pairs in the Kentucky back span,” the company describes.

“The strands are made of steel, and the number of strands varies in each of the cables from a minimum of 14 located in the cables nearest both towers to a maximum of 35 in the cables farthest from the towers on the back span side,” GPI continues. “The cables at the mid-span contain 31 strands each.”

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