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A Company Built to Last

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Northeast Precast LLC is a precast concrete manufacturer specializing in commercial products and residential foundation wall systems. Operating out of New Jersey in the Residential, Commercial, and Transportation markets, it provides top-quality construction materials that are built to last. As Mark Gorgas puts it: “We’re turning construction into manufacturing and combining the two. This gives customers the quality and precision of manufacturing combined with construction. Operating in a controlled environment where you can train the employees from the ground up helps add additional long-term value.” Gorgas speaks to me today during Northeast Precast’s 20th year in business and as the company’s newly appointed President.

Reflecting on the early days, Gorgas tells me that the company has developed hugely and, equally importantly, in an organic way. “Northeast Precast owners John and Lorie Ruga built a 25,000 square foot plant from the ground up and began operations there in late 2003. They had recently branched out from residential home remodeling into precast manufacturing, starting with a single product called Superior Walls.” As Gorgas goes on to explain, even 20 years on that product, durable and abiding in character, remains the foundation on which the company is built. “For the first few years we focused on the residential market, doing basements predominantly in the South Jersey region in close proximity to the plant.”

However, once Northeast Precast’s production plant was established, business took off quickly. Less than two years later, the company found itself doubling in size to a 50,000 square foot plant. “Business continued to grow,” says Gorgas, “but in 2007 we met the challenges of the recession which forced us to rethink how we went about things.” For Northeast Precast, the recession and the financial and operational restraints that came with it were ultimately the catalyst that pushed it into new markets. “We came to realize that we were part of a much bigger industry than we realized – that being the precast concrete industry – and started pursuing Department of Transportation and commercial building type projects.”

As a result of its willingness to adapt under difficult circumstances, Northeast Precast quickly got back on track post-recession and managed to fill its production plant to capacity. Fast forward another 10 years and the company took the opportunity to pivot strategically, opening a second 50,000 square foot plant in tandem with the development of a new commercial division to focus on commercial building projects. “I think we learned from the recession that tomorrow is never guaranteed, and we are never going to live off past successes,” Gorgas says. “You can celebrate success but, to think that what you did in the past is going to be enough for your future, you’re going to find yourself a stagnant organization, and then you’ll start to trend in the wrong direction. Choosing to reinvent yourself even when you feel comfortable is a critical part of continuing to create opportunity for your employees.”

As was the trend that carried it through its first decade, Northeast Precast continued to grow. It soon found itself in need of more space to conquer new markets, and thus began the development of a new 300-acre headquarter property in Vineland. Further expansion continued in the form of a new 125,000 square foot precast plant and steel fabrication shop in Vineland, and later a 225,000 square foot plant on the same property. In early 2023, during an already significant year for the company, Northeast Precast completed its move to the new HQ. As Gorgas explains, this move has had an incredibly positive impact on the company. “Today, hundreds of skilled craftsman work on the same 300-acre facility which has been the ownership’s dream – having this new headquarters and consolidating everything to be more efficient. We now have 350,000 square feet of indoor manufacturing space and 2 batch plants, pouring about 700 yards of concrete a day.”

“We now have 350,000 square feet of indoor manufacturing space and 2 batch plants, pouring about 700 yards of concrete a day.”

A powerhouse now in both scope and scale, Northeast Precast still relies heavily on its roots by continuing to work in single-family home construction. “I think it’s rather unique that we erect four or five precast structures per day in the New Jersey market for single-family homes,” says Gorgas. However, the next project he highlights is a long way from a single-family home, and the contrast between the two points to the wide range of services Northeast Precast offers. “Recently, we erected our first precast parking structure, a 583-car garage for Lifetime Athletic in Middletown, New Jersey. Adjacent to that we also built a total precast building for the gym facility, 120,000 square foot and 4- stories tall.”

At the beginning of our conversation, Gorgas mentioned the company’s early involvement with the Department of Transport as a result of its post-recession expansion, and this pipeline of highway and infrastructure work remains a strong part of Northeast Precast’s future. “We’ve been working for the past several years on the 42-295 project for the New Jersey Department of Transportation which includes retaining walls, noise walls, and segmental bridge products including hammerhead piers that go on top of segmental piers.” On the commercial front, he says: “We’re just wrapping up a 400,000 square foot retail facility in Elmont, New York, at the Belmont Park Retail Village which is comprised of boutique shops and restaurants as well as special event space.”

Underlying each of Northeast Precast’s projects and embedded into the company’s vision, is a drive towards sustainability. For Gorgas, it is important on an environmental level but also, it makes good business sense. “We like to think about sustainability from the standpoint of being good stewards of all the resources we’ve been entrusted with, including customers, employees, and the environment. All those resources support each other, and anytime you have waste in that chain, one of the shareholders is paying for that waste. We’ve always thought about it from that perspective.”

Within that chain of resources, the most tangible of Northeast Precast’s responsibilities, when it comes to sustainability, is the product that it makes. For Gorgas, it is vital that the company works towards achieving something many companies strive and fail to achieve, balance. “We’re very aware of the fact that cement has a negative perspective from the outside world,” he says. “It really is a carbon heavy product, but we work hard to reduce the impact of that with our panel design. Our current panel design reduces the cement and concrete usage by 33% by using a composite insulated panel design. We try to design our panels with continuous edge-to-edge insulation to make a high-quality building envelope, that plays really well into sustainability. And at our facility we recently installed a concrete reclaimer system that allows us to take waste concrete and wastewater and turn it into reusable product. This allows the cement, sand, stone, and water to be reused after they go through the reclaimer system.”

Northeast Precast is a company with a clear success story told through its project portfolio and growth succession. More than anything though, it’s people-first approach is what ultimately keeps it on a sustainable path. “For people to be engaged they have to understand the vision, and if the vision is simply a certain amount of revenue, the energy around that eventually runs out,” says Gorgas. “But if they understand that the vision is taking care of people – that’s something everyone can get behind.”

As somebody who has been with the company since the beginning, Gorgas is able to truly reflect on the past 20 years that have led Northeast Precast to where it is today. “Looking back over our history it’s easy to see that customers appreciate when you do the right thing,” he says. “That alone – investing in your customers and employees – really propels you forward. I think we are tapping into something by building a culture that’s focused on customers and employees. We’re building something that people want to be a part of, and that tends to organically grow itself.”

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