Hingham, MA, Gets New Elementary School

By Joanne Ray | September 28, 2010

In spite of the down economy, it's been a very good year for Thomas Contracting Company, Inc. (TCCI). And rightly so, because only a year and a half ago, when John Thomas decided to leave his current employer, TLT Construction Corp. in Lexington, MA, he had no doubt that his business would be booming in no time.

"I was in the business for 30 years and worked for big contracting companies," Thomas said. "I had an extensive background in the construction industry with a long list of completed projects — both commercial and public — when I was employed with New Jersey and Massachusetts general contractors. It has always been my feeling that if you are diligent, sincere, collaborate with all others from the architect to subcontractors, but most of all show respect to the men that work with you side by side, you will gain the respect of others, which in turn contributes to the success of a project in bringing it to completion."

Today, with only eight employees, this East Greenwich, RI-based company is doing the site work for three major projects — a $21-million, 93,500-square-foot elementary school in Hingham, MA; a $16-million, 67,000-square-foot elementary school in Lowell, MA; and an $18.3-million Department of Public Works (DPW) building in Lexington, MA.

Because of Thomas' long-time relationship with Lyle Coghlin and Patrick Tompkins, co-owners of Coghlin Tompkins Associates (CTA) of Boston, he was able to bid on the projects and got all three. CTA is the general contractor for all three projects.

"It really all comes down to the low bidder," said Thomas. "We were low bidder on the Lexington project and then on this (Hingham) project. I also help CTA do their bidding. You help them, they help you."

TCCI's cost for completing the site work will be about $620,000 for Hingham, $650,000 for Lowell and $750,000 for Lexington.

At 2 Collins Street in Hingham, TCCI broke ground in May 2008. There was no remediation before the site work began, as the 7-acre flat site was a former school that had been taken down.

The scope of work for this project included the erosion control, clearing and grubbing of the site, stripping and stockpiling material, cuts to fills, re-using on-site materials, pulverizing asphalt for re-use on site, drainage — 3,000 linear feet of 8-inch to 36-inch CPP (corrugated plastic pipe), the installation of 35 drainage structures, building of detention ponds, septic system installation (20,000-gallon septic tank, 5,000-gallon dosing tank), and leach field. More work included water pipe installation , approximately 3,000 linear feet from 6-inch to 8-inch ductile iron, new hydrants, gate valves, and wet taps. Also included was all excavation and backfill of foundations, interior plumbing and electric and SOG (slab on grade) preparation and walk and pavement prep.

Because of the importance of recycling, Thomas was happy to report that TCCI was able to reuse all fill that was pulled from the site. Laborers will also recycle the rocks — crushing them into three-quarter-inch stone.

Late summer found the TCCI crew working on the backfill of the site and aiding the installation of water pipes.

With any new company comes new equipment. TCCI uses a Cat D3 dozer, a Cat 10-ton vibratory roller, a Cat 420E rubber tire backhoe, and a Cat 320 excavator all purchased from Milton Cat in Milford, MA.

"I like Cats because they just seem to be the most reliable," Thomas said. "When it comes to maintenance, Cat is right there. They tend to really cater to the customer and re-sale is better."

Thomas said fuel costs are astronomical.

"In April 2008, I was paying $2.82 a gallon for off road fuel," Thomas said. "Now I am paying $4.82 a gallon. I use 600 to 1,000 gallons a week."

Thomas attributes a great deal of his successful start to his loyal employees.

"A critical component to the success of TCCI is the long-standing relationships that have been established between John and his men — many of whom have been with John for up to 15 years," said owner Nancy Thomas. "Their commitment and loyalty to John was a major consideration to the startup of TCCI."

Employees include: Operators Shawn Merrill, Terry Watkinson, Joe Clancy, and Larry Boiardi; Laborer Todd Leitao; and Site Foreman Dennis Hopkins. John's wife Nancy is 100-percent owner of the business, and both John and Nancy co-manage.

Completion date for the Hingham Elementary School is expected to be June 2009.