Standing the Test of Time
GVW General Contractor
Starting as a restorer in 1986, Massachusetts-based GVW General Contractor, Inc. has grown into a multi-million-dollar general contractor and real estate empire in a relatively short time. Its main business traditionally has been in public sector construction, but the company is slowly incorporating private sector construction into its ever-growing portfolio, and its capabilities and diversification have earned it Boston’s attention – and rightly so.
“All our personnel, from project managers, superintendents to field personnel are all equipped and dedicated to giving professional service that keeps our clients happy,” says GVW President George Wattendorf III. “Our clients enjoy working with us, and that has been our focus in the last few years.” George prides himself on being more than a name on a door and makes it a priority to be a part of every project the company performs.
Before joining the family firm in 2014, he earned a degree in civil engineering. The childhood years he spent on job sites with his father – company founder George Wattendorf II – would prove invaluable throughout his career. The wisest advice George had ever received from his father was to invest in diversification, and he resolved to follow it closely, which has made the company adaptable to market changes. It now has a phenomenal range of capabilities in disciplines such as marine, institutional, health care, and public works.
GVW has made extensive investments in real estate, with one of its greatest projects to date being Boston’s Sunset Lofts at 70 Parker Hill Avenue. Originally a five-story hospital building dating back to the 1940s, the now seven-story block of forty luxury apartments offers stylish city living in the heart of Boston’s historic Mission Hill district, not far from Harvard’s medical school and teaching hospitals.
This year has seen another new addition. Its latest development on 1200 Bennington Street, East Boston is taking shape. The apartment block will see forty family units added to this formerly economically challenged part of the city. The project aims to help spark new life in East Boston.
In 2018, GVW General Contractor, Inc. was also involved in constructing coffee shop Fuel America’s new locations across Boston, and it recently also completed the first shop outside the city. The fourth in the Fuel America collection is an over-five-thousand-square-foot coffee roastery and café in Worcester, Massachusetts’ Mercantile Center, which opened for business last year. The coffee crafter is a subsidiary of Market Basket, the Massachusetts supermarket chain.
GVW’s list of completed public works is also steadily growing, as it has built a number of skating rinks in partnership with the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) over the past three years.
The company’s capabilities are vast, and it is seeing a lot of work come in for public historical renovations in the City of Boston as well as the Town of Weston, Massachusetts. In Boston, it is currently working on the city’s beautiful Faneuil Hall. The hall, which was built in 1743, is also known as the Cradle of Liberty as this was where many notable historic figures spoke in favor of relinquishing America’s subjugation to the British Monarchy.
Forbes Traveller voted the building fourth amongst the country’s twenty-five favorite tourist attractions. G.V.W. is in the process of restoring the exterior of the building, including work on the windows, brickwork, copings, and doors. In the City of Weston, it is restoring both the interior and exterior of the Case House on Wellesley Street, Case Campus. The house was built in 1890 and was donated to the local education department by its previous owners.
In addition, GVW recently completed restoration work on the Marblehead Municipal Light Department’s original power station built in 1894. Thanks to the upgrade, the building is now Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) compliant and is ready to function as a safe, fully-integrated, twenty-first-century office unit.
“When working on a renovation like this, it is incredible to consider the technological progress we’ve made in the last 150 years in terms of energy efficiency and preservation,” says George. To ensure that its service in the field remains top-notch, the company is staying ahead of historic renovation standards.
Its prize restoration project this year must be the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM)’s state archives expansion which was finished on time and within budget. The department houses a mammoth body of historical documents from the beginning of the state’s history. A two-foot-thick wall was used to protect these records during the addition, sealing off the existing archives from the construction site, where two floors and 25,000 square feet were added to the existing building.
“They have documents from the time that John Hancock signed the Massachusetts Declaration of Independence in 1776,” says George. The original document of his inauguration as governor can be seen here. The project’s completion was celebrated on January 29 of this year.
Another highlight of the past year was its expansion of Boston women’s shelter. “Their staff and the city were fantastic to work with. I was on that job personally every day as it was a sensitive project in terms of ensuring that nobody was denied their bed for the night,” says George.
The company deeply values family, and because none of the work that has secured GVW’s reputation in the industry would be possible without its employees, great care is taken to ensure work satisfaction. Sixteen people working at the administrative end of the business and fifty taking care of field operations combine to make a great name for the company.
“Ours is an incredible, hard-working team. Our clients often comment on their professionalism. It’s really amazing to receive emails in praise of the great work we do for them. Our team’s hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. We really appreciate everything they do for the company and that they treat it as their own. It really is all we can ask for,” says George. As a token of appreciation, GVW supports its employees in any certifications they are working towards, contributing in full towards exams and courses that, in turn, benefit the company.
The company has enjoyed a comfortable eleven percent growth in the past year. It has already secured over $26 million in contracts so far for 2019 and will be aiming to improve this number with more contracts as the year progresses. It is putting an increasingly strong emphasis on branching into construction management, as this is an area where it can make an especially valuable contribution to its customers’ projects.
As the company performs all its work, it is in an ideal position to take full control of project schedules to ensure that timelines and budgets are strictly followed. In line with its diversity philosophy, the company will be slowly moving further into the private sector. Of the twenty-six jobs it completed last year, two were private projects, and George would ultimately like to increase the number to three or four in 2019. Massachusetts is bound to see much more of GVW General Contractor, Inc.’s work throughout the state in the coming year.