Growing with the Flow
This year, after 45 years of keeping a large part of America’s subterranean infrastructure in shipshape condition, Shenandoah Construction celebrates with a new look.
Keeping cities in around seventy counties functioning optimally from its six branches, Shenandoah Construction takes care of a lot more underground infrastructure beneath urban areas than most people realize. As a respected leader in Florida’s trenchless construction market, Shenandoah has the versatile skills needed to install, maintain, and upgrade pipelines – without digging trenches – for everything from the smallest municipal lines to the largest and most complex industrial-sized piping available.
The company first started serving its market in 1976 with video inspections and wastewater pipeline cleaning and expanded from there. From its headquarters in Pompano Beach, it has continuously upgraded its technology and capabilities to better serve its clients throughout Florida from facilities in Fort Myers, Fort Pierce, Tampa, Lakeland and Georgia.
This is a firm known for putting its money where its mouth is. The last time we spoke in 2019, Vice President of Operations Anthony Guglielmi mentioned several large goals, and today, despite global economic pressure, the company is bigger and better than ever, as promised.
Apart from a fresh logo sporting a two-tone ‘S,’ its rebranding campaign celebrates the company’s four-and-a-half decades in business by focusing on what matters. “We’re very fortunate to have great employees. We always do little things for them as tokens of appreciation. Whether it’s giveaways, raffles, or lunches, I feel like the little things mean more,” Guglielmi says, reflecting the pragmatism and level-headed positivity that is the signature spirit of Shenandoah Construction.
Great service leads to great growth and to add to this, Shenandoah acquired another company a little over a year ago. Bay Area Environmental Services of Tampa, Florida “is now a Shenandoah Company,” says Guglielmi. “It primarily focuses on vac-truck services, CCTV inspection services for sanitary and stormwater pipeline, along with Shenandoah’s vast menu of services in the greater Tampa Bay area.” Its family values and growth mindset were very much in line with Shenandoah’s own resulting in a comfortable transition.
“All of our branches do the same type of work,” Guglielmi says, noting that the new Tampa branch has “a great team of people. It’s a good fit.”
The company’s success is in part due to its approach to driving growth through efficiency and new technology. It is also thanks to delivering personalized service and customer care. The company continues to offer further related services as necessary, such as the recent additions of subsurface soil stabilization and trenchless rehabilitation of sanitary service lateral pipelining. By including the home sanitation pipelines that enter its traditional domain of the main pipelines that run beneath streets, Shenandoah Construction can now ensure the quality of entire sanitation systems.
The company’s subsurface soil stabilization methods involve drilling injection rods into asphalt, grass, or any other stretch of earth covering geologically unstable areas. It then fills any subterranean cavities with a liquid geopolymer that sets and hardens to stabilize the surface. To give the best service possible using this product, the company is a licensed Uretek applicator, while its fleet of specialized equipment and hydraulic cleaner trucks for pipe testing, CCTV inspection, and more, gives it everything it needs to perform.
Traditionally, Shenandoah Construction had three main divisions but has recently added a fourth. While the first three departments handle pipeline cleaning and video inspections alongside trenchless installations of various types of pipe linings, it has also been expanding into new areas with a specialty division that deals with pipelining point repairs, canal bank restoration, surface vegetation removal, and much more.
The company’s ongoing growth has brought about the appointment of Vice President of Finance Sophie Starfas, who joined the company in 2020. It also added a new project manager and a project engineer to support its newly increased market presence. “We keep very active. Our primary line of work [now] is for municipalities and state works. We have commercial, industrial, and government customers,” in addition to private clients, says Guglielmi.
As underground sanitation and stormwater infrastructure never stops working, Shenandoah Construction saw incredible growth in the past two years, and this was by no means affected by the pandemic. “COVID-19 didn’t affect our business because we’re considered an essential service. Especially since we deal with government and municipality-type of work. [They still need to maintain their sanitary and stormwater systems, so we can’t shut down,” says Guglielmi.
While the entire firm carried on, several measures were put in place to ensure the safety of all 134 staff members. Some worked from home; everyone was tested, and people exhibiting symptoms had to self-quarantine. Its no-nonsense approach meant that its people could come to work knowing the company had their back.
“Our employees are the most important to us. We could run the best business, have the best equipment, have the best news articles feature in a magazine, but without our people, we’re nothing. So our people are everything to us, and we will do whatever we have to do to maintain that,” he adds.
As Shenandoah Construction did not shut down any aspect of its services during the past year, it had ample opportunity to shine while many other sectors were not as lucky. One project that stood out was the first of its kind for the company: the rehabilitation of a large stormwater slip-line system that was completed six months ahead of schedule and within budget. The contract was concluded for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which furnished the firm with a rather impressive letter of appreciation for a job well done. Shenandoah Construction also made it into the National Underground Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) magazine for a notable project completed in Lake Worth, Florida.
As Guglielmi foresaw two years ago, the country, and especially Florida’s need for infrastructure has indeed translated into tremendous gains for the company. “I see our industry getting busier, seeing that the infrastructure of the United States is long overdue for rehabilitation, especially south Florida’s stormwater systems. They’ve been in the ground twenty-five to fifty-plus years,” he said back in 2019. Today, repairing these pipelines and keeping up to date with the ever-increasing speed of technological development are its main growth drivers.
“Our industry is moving fast on technology,” Guglielmi says of the effects of Industry 4.0 on the company’s sector. “Our mainline CCTV-inspection trucks have a lot of technology on them. From the camera systems to the operating systems, everything’s uploaded to [the] cloud and sent to the client via a link that they can click on to access,” he says. In addition, staff members are using remote time capture for clocking in and out via an app on their smart phones with the help of geofencing technology.
A fairly new employee engagement platform allows all Shenandoah staff to communicate via an app that allows for direct and group communication. It also notifies them when medical cards or qualifications are due for renewal and much more. It even handles safety training as employees can sign in and do their training directly. This underlines the company’s aim to go as paperless as it possibly can.
“[Technology just makes everything] so much easier. It makes operations more efficient, and efficiency turns into profits. [It allows our clients] to have that one-on-one service as much as possible. That’s the goal,” he says.
Of course, the company’s success in this area benefits its clients with first-class service. “We don’t want our clients to feel that, because they’re coming to a bigger company, they’re just a number,” Guglielmi adds. The firm is committed to offering custom solutions to any pipeline or seawall situation its clients may face and continues to deliver dynamic solutions for stormwater and sanitation needs while expanding its already sizeable footprint across the United States.