With New Acquisition, Ghilotti Construction Charts Growth in Marin and Beyond

Will Jasonmarinij.com

Posted:   08/04/2010 05:10:35 PM PDT

The Ghilotti Construction Co. name is already familiar to almost anyone who has driven on Highway 101 through Marin. But now the company is looking to extend its reach even further following its acquisition of North Bay Construction.Ghilotti has been involved in some of Marin’s largest construction projects, including the ongoing redesign of the connector between Highway 101 and Interstate 580 in San Rafael. In acquiring North Bay, Ghilotti has taken over a $48 million Highway 101 widening project between Cotati and Petaluma.

With the merger, Ghilotti has nearly doubled in size, with 420 to 550 employees depending on projects. Richard Ghilotti, president and CEO of Ghilotti Construction, will head the management team of the combined company.

“There are efficiencies, there are economies of scale,” Ghilotti spokesman Larry Kamer said of the acquisition deal. “We feel the combination of these two businesses puts together a very competitive and strong company.”

Industry observers said Ghilotti and North Bay were already on a short list of local firms that could compete for major projects, such as the upcoming $750 million Highway 101 widening project along the so-called Narrows between Novato and Petaluma. Now, that list has grown even shorter.

“When you’re talking about highway work or moving dirt, whether it’s for public works or private, there’s only a handful of names, and now you’ve turned two of them into one,” said Jeff Grady, board president of the Marin

Builders Association. “They’re going to be a force in that industry.”

Ghilotti and North Bay have worked on a range of projects, and observers said their combination will help them land an even greater diversity of work.

“It gives them more bench strength, if you will,” said Gene Ceccotti, president and CEO of Shamrock Materials, Inc., a major supplier for Ghilotti.

Ghilotti Construction has no immediate plans to close the North Bay office, and no layoffs have occurred as a result of the merger, according to Kamer. Future employment levels will depend on the amount of work available, Kamer said.

“Nothing is guaranteed in the construction business,” Kamer said.

North Bay was founded by John Barella and his wife, Andrea, in 1976, and its headquarters are in a 42,000-square-foot corporate complex in Petaluma. The company has worked on several Marin projects such as the 2005 construction of an overpass across Highway 101 at the Redwood Landfill north of Novato. Barella, North Bay’s CEO, will end his day-to-day involvement in the business and focus on real estate development, according to a statement announcing the deal.

Steve Geney, president of North Bay Construction, will join the Ghilotti management team.

Founded in 1992 and based in Santa Rosa, Ghilotti Construction has offices in San Rafael, Napa County and the East Bay. It is one of four North Bay firms tracing their roots to a single family company, which was started in San Rafael in 1914. The others are Ghilotti Brothers Inc. and Maggiora and Ghilotti Inc., both of San Rafael, and Team Ghilotti Inc. of Petaluma.

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