Tackling Major Projects
For almost seventy years, Lancaster Development, Inc. has built its reputation for on-time and on-budget project completion. The company is known for complete customer satisfaction, quality and safety in heavy highway construction work. It incorporates many years of in-depth industry knowledge to devise innovative engineering solutions when unexpected challenges arise.
Lancaster Development, Inc. was founded in the town of Lancaster, east of Buffalo, New York, in the years immediately following the conclusion of World War II. Back in 1947, there was a boom in America’s economy, particularly in new home construction.
“Lancaster started out in residential site development, such as residential roads, sewer and water,” says President Mark Galasso.
Galasso and his brother Martin Jr. (Marty) represent the third generation of Lancaster Development which was founded by his father’s uncle, August Galasso. August Galasso was a lifelong entrepreneur who was also involved in other businesses – such as quarries and hotels –throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies. He relocated the company to Cobleskill, New York in the mid-1950s. Today, Lancaster Development is based in nearby Richmondville, where it built a new facility and relocated in 1999.
“We’ve done all kinds of work over the growth of the company,” he says. “Since the early 1970s, we have focused primarily on public-sector heavy highway projects, working primarily for New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Thruway Authority.”
Lancaster does everything from heavy earthworks and bridgework to paving, utility services, milling, trenching, equipment transportation, material trucking and contract crushing. The company’s design-build capabilities and decades of experience enable it to handle large-scale projects professionally and anticipate potential obstacles before they present a problem. These capabilities have resulted in numerous successful Value-Engineering Proposals that have saved owners significant time and money.
To say the brothers and co-owners know the business from the ground up is an understatement. From the time he was just eleven years old, Mark worked summer vacations at the company. Through high school, he was a laborer on bridge crews and pipe crews, with Marty working mainly on paving crews. During his college years, Mark began working as a foreman running earth moving crews, while his brother led paving crews and the equipment repair shop. Mark studied civil engineering in college and worked as a licensed professional engineer in New York and a superintendent at Lancaster before becoming president in 2002. Marty, the company’s Executive Vice President, manages all equipment and fleet assets along with construction material production.
Lancaster Development continues to prove itself time and time again with its professional services and capabilities. The company has completed projects such as the Stewart International Airport Connector, a Walmart Supercenter site contract for the town of Cicero and the Whitney Point Rest Area reconstruction.
For the approximately $50 million Stewart Airport project in Newburgh, the company performed clearing, excavation, made embankments, construction, wetland mitigation, installed utility facilities, paved and rehabilitated old drainage structures for the construction of four bridges for a new east-west connector to Stewart from Drury Lane.
Lancaster was responsible for extensive site preparation, for the Walmart site contract in Cicero. This included road reconstruction, clearing and excavation and the making of embankments. Before constructing a new parking lot, the company also handled drainage and the installation of sewer and water infrastructure. And, for the reconstruction of the Whitney Point Rest Area, the company’s services included excavation, embankment, waterline connection (including septic installation) and paving for the town of Lisle.
“A lot of our success and longevity is from our diversification,” says Galasso. “Owner diversification, geographic diversification, diversification of industries and our strengths with material production, aggregates and asphalt.”
Rather than focus on just a few areas of construction, Lancaster’s work ranges from installing new underground sewer systems to rehabilitating concrete pavement, site clearing, erecting sound barriers, bridge demolition and replacement, establishing wetland plants and topsoil, constructing retaining walls, cold milling and much more.
The company also works in a variety of regions and industries. Lancaster Development operates in New York State, Florida (Florida certified underground and excavation contractor CUC1225174) and north-central Pennsylvania. Although much of the company’s work is large-scale, Lancaster maintains the same commitment to excellence and timely, on-budget project delivery for smaller clients.
There are two groups under the Lancaster umbrella: Lancaster Development, Inc., which concentrates on public works and Tri-City Highway Products, a full-service aggregate and asphalt producer.
Tri-City Highway Products has one of the largest production plants in the area, with production capabilities of 350 tons per hour and an extensive portfolio of equipment and vehicles. Its highly experienced staff are headed by President David Black to serve New York and Pennsylvania.
Galasso credits his dedicated team of employees for Lancaster’s ongoing success. Lancaster has a high staff retention rate, and some staff have been at the company their entire working lives. In the past year and a half, two employees retired. One started his career immediately out of college in 1966 and the other in 1971; neither worked anywhere else for almost forty-five years.
“Without our employees, this company is nothing,” comments Galasso. “Anybody can buy a piece of equipment.” The Lancaster group of companies has a total of approximately eighty full-time staff and another 150 seasonal employees.
Lancaster has many deep-rooted relationships with public sector clients, trusted vendors and subcontractors going back decades. It operates in an industry which is heavily relationship-based and views its clients more as business partners than simply customers.
“Obviously price matters, but given the risk associated with construction of non-performance, having strong relationships with subcontractors and vendors that you can count on to perform is a key component,” he says. “We work very hard to develop those relationships, and we give preferential treatment from a pricing standpoint to those firms that we know can get the job done. And if that means we have to pay a little bit more, so be it.”
Last December, phase one of the massive Prospect Mountain project was completed. Lancaster Development was the managing member of a joint venture with partner Tully Construction Company, Inc. which successfully completed the $140 million contract that was awarded in November of 2011.
This project is seeing the reconstruction of New York State Route 17 and Interstate 81 (I-81) in the city of Binghamton. Major construction activity began in the spring of 2012. The project has seen the reconstruction of nine bridges and all associated roadwork including storm drains, concrete and asphalt pavements.
According to the New York State Department of Transportation: “The ultimate goal of this multi-million dollar project is to improve operational and safety deficiencies as well as to achieve Interstate 86 designation for this section of State Route 17 to be designated I-86.”
Lancaster Development was able to handle any obstacles successfully. There were significantly different subsurface conditions from those anticipated by the Department of Transportation. There was also water, unanticipated rock and poor soil conditions in areas where it was thought the stability would be good.
The company used different construction techniques and redesigned some of its work to come up with ideas that worked for everyone. Despite several very significant changes, the team at Lancaster Development worked with the Department of Transportation to complete the project on time.
Galasso has served as president of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of New York State. He was active when the organization began to negotiate merging with General Building Contractors (GBC) – the state chapter of the national AGC. The consolidation occurred at the end of his term, and Galasso was asked to stay on for a second year, which he did. He was an integral part of the team that helped transition the association from heavy highway only to the merged entity.
“It was a lot of work and a lot of fun,” he says. “I worked with a lot of great people and am really happy to see this many years later truly thriving. The association is significantly stronger than it was prior to the merger.”
The company has formed strong roots in the community and is a benefactor to local charities with both financial and volunteer support. “The reason we focus on local charities is because our employees and neighbors can see the benefit,” he says. The company supports the Literacy Volunteers of Schoharie Country, the Richmondville Volunteer Fire Department, western New York chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care and many other initiatives. “We are helping people we know.”
The brothers hope their children will take over the business one day so Lancaster Development will see the fourth generation lead the company. “So, for the next five years for us, we continue to build and strengthen the organization to make it possible, should our children choose this path.”
Although always exploring new technologies, implementing more sophisticated accounting and job cost tools and becoming more diversified, the Galasso brothers want to keep the size of Lancaster about the same as it is today.
“We don’t want to lose the personal touch to everybody that works here,” says Mark. “We know everyone, and we want to keep it that way.”