10 to Watch - Fran Colantonio

Worcester Business Journal, MetroWest 495 Biz

"Ten to Watch", by Taryn Plumb

It's no secret that the real estate and construction markets have been languishing over the past several years.  Despite that, Holliston-based construction management firm Colantonio Inc. has flourished.  

It brings in about $40 million in annual revenues - a number that has grown over the past decade - and juggles a medley of projects at any given time.  That success, said president and founder Fran Colantonio, comes from the company's flexibility and well-rounded staff.

"We have the talent and the expertise to be able to take on many different types of projects," said Colantonio, who started the business more than 30 years ago as a two-person shop.  "We have multifaceted, talented people who can handle pretty much anything."  

That includes endeavors big and small, public and private, new and historic, interior and exterior.  Work ranges from reconstruction; to space repurposing and refurbishing; to various renovations;  to historic restorations; to energy installations and upgrades; to full-on, beginning-to-end builds.

Working in these various areas, the company has forged relationships with area architecture firms, and employes craftsmen who work with concrete, doors, windows, masonry, metal windows, miscellaneous and ornamental iron, among other trades.  According to Colantonio, the company is also developing a niche in the alternative energy space, helping to install an design solar, wind, and fuel energy supplies.  He said that's an advantage over other contracting firms, who often have to sub-contract out such work.

The company's portfolio includes business centers, dormitories, bank branches, fire departments, rail stations, department of public works buildings, town halls, libraries, senior centers, National Guard maintenance facilities, laboratories and parking garages.

Some of its recent accomplishments:  A $19 million renovation of the 110,000 square foot D. Justin McCarthy Center at Framingham State University; a $14 million renovation of the 80,000 square foot Brookline Town Hall; and a $1.2 million phased renovation of the 150,000 square foot WCVB-TV Channel 5 building in Needham.

Colantonio, for his part, is a veteran in the industry; while studying for his bachelor of science in business administration at UMass Dartmouth, he worked construction during summer and school breaks.

In 1981, he started the business as a small carpentry enterprise.  But that didn't last long - by 1983, he was "pretty busy," so he decided to incorporate the following year, and ultimately branch out into general contracting.

And since then, the company as been on a steady arc of growth.  Its annual revenues have ballooned from $100,000 to $40 million; its employees from two to a base of 40 that swells to 100 during particularly busy times.  Typically, the company has anywhere from four to ten projects going at a time, ranging in cost from $100,000 to $20 million, according to Colantonio, who serves on the board of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce and the Holliston Economic Development Committee.

As for the future?  The company is planning managed growth over the next three to five years.  Colantonio said, with a main goal to remain competitive in the public market.  Also, he said, the'd like to get into projects even earlier - that is, when they are still at the conception phase, to help develop them and eventually bring them to fruition.

"There's a lot of demand right now for growth, especially in the private sector." said Colantonio, predicting that, "over the next three to five years, the construction industry is going to start to come back to levels that we saw prior to 2008."

And you can bet his company will be ready.