March 4, 2019
Shop Talk

Manafort eyes large Worcester contracts

Rob Lewandowski & Tim Harvey, Regional vice president & project executive, Manafort Brothers, Inc. Worcester

Rob Lewandowski & Tim Harvey, Regional vice president & project executive, Manafort Brothers, Inc.

Corporate headquarters: Plainville, Conn.

Founded: 1919; Worcester office opened 2012

Employees: 800 companywide and 160 in Worcester

Ages: 50 (Lewandowski); 36 (Harvey)

Residences: Stonington, Conn.; Boston

Birthplaces: New Britain, Conn.; Worcester

Education: Lewandowski: Bachelor of science in civil engineering University of Hartford; master's degree in civil engineering, Purdue University in Indiana; Harvey: Bachelor's degree in economics, Boston College

Global construction firm Manafort Brothers opened its Worcester office seven years ago, doing mostly concrete work on contracts ranging from $2 million to $15 million. With the hype around the region's economic activity increasing, the company is looking to land more work in Central Mass., and particularly in Worcester.

Why are you seeking more Worcester projects?

Lewandowski: There seems to be a lot of momentum building in this region.

Harvey: Generally, we are really excited about projects coming out in Worcester. That is one of the key areas of our focus. A lot of our employees are from Worcester and prefer to work in Worcester, to contribute to their hometown.

Does Worcester have more projects available now compared to five years ago?

H: I don't know that is the case. There is more of a buzz about the economy doing well in the city, and people are excited about doing projects in the city.

There have been opportunities in the city the last five years, but the buzz hasn't been there. The leadership of the city hasn't been as excited about what they see as they do now.

There has been talk forever about making Shrewsbury Street more walkable to downtown, and it has always been challenging since I grew up here. Now, it seems they are making some headway, and it is nice to see downtown become a more walkable, livable city.

Would you like to do the new Worcester Red Sox stadium?

L: We are definitely very interested, and the stadium is definitely on our radar. The project hasn't gone out to bid yet. We are well suited for it, and it is work we have done in the past, multiple times. We have the local resources for it, and we view that as a job we can be an asset to – the ballpark and the surrounding hotels and apartments.

Are you worried the stadium project is on such a tight deadline to open by 2021?

H: We like a hard deadline we have to hit. We like to challenge ourselves, and that is how Manafort Brothers differentiates itself.

But you have to rely on outside factors to be on time, too, like the bidding and other contractors.

L: The construction industry is efficient and well-managed. The schedules have gotten very detailed and accurate. The ability of owners and construction managers to predict the pace of the project has gotten better. The industry is missing deadlines less and less.

There is an old adage in the industry: Time is money. That is true for everyone in the process.

At what point in the project do you typically start with concrete work?

L: Excavation typically starts first, then we come in to do foundation work. We end up staying almost through the end because the concrete projects are often broke up into phases: the foundation phase, the slab phase and the exterior building/site work phase. That is usually at the end, so you don't destroy it while you are building the building.

Can you do more than concrete work?

L: While this office focuses on concrete work, the entire company can do demolition, civil utility, highways and bridges, rail, and mass transit. A lot of the public projects out to bid are bridges and highway projects, and those tend to be larger projects, up to $100 million.

H: Because of the size of the company and all its capabilities, even if we don't primarily do a certain type of work in this office, we can get those resources to almost any location if the opportunity arises to do infrastructure work or another type of project.

What other Worcester projects are you eyeing?

H: Any of the university projects, any public transportation projects and any private development projects, we would love to be a part of those.

We've done projects like those already, like the Worcester clock tower, MCPHS University, Quinsigamond Community College, the CitySquare garage. We've been the mix in all those categories, and we want to help out wherever we can.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Editor Brad Kane.

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