Complete General Construction has been a family-owned business in Columbus, Ohio, since its origination back in 1928 when John Guzzo started the company. For a family business to survive nearly 90 years, it requires a strong foundation. The company made it through the Great Depression, World War II, and a few recessions along the way. The company’s ability and willingness to diversify their offerings helped them not only overcome each obstacle along the way, but also made them a stronger business.
Currently in the fourth generation of the Guzzo family, the company began as a very small outfit that specialized in sewer and sidewalk construction projects nearly 87 years ago. Complete General has steadily grown and is presently a general contractor specializing in highway, bridge, paving, underground, and electric work throughout Ohio. They even do some specialized projects outside of the state.
Over the years, the contractor has been involved in several high-profile jobs that include the major Ohio interstate construction of the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. They’ve also built major sections of SR-315, I-670 and I-270. In 1997, they started building new bridges from the ground up and since then, have tackled small projects from $70K up to large highway projects worth $70 million.
“We have had virtually no breakdowns, better pricing than the competition, and excellent feedback from our customers — confirming that we made the right decision with CP products.”
Latex overlay projects were Complete General’s forte when the company first started constructing bridges in the early 1980s — it was the only bridgework they did at the time. For 10 years, they were very successful with the latex overlay projects, but the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) began shifting their work toward more intense rehab and new construction projects. Complete General felt they needed to follow suit or be left behind. That turned out to be the right move as they now have three main categories of bridges they work on and excel at: new construction, rehab construction, and overlays.
Bridge overlays are where Complete General started and it remains their specialty. The bridges that were a result of ODOT’s concentrated effort of moving to new construction in the 1990s started to wear and the company found a niche in the market with weekend overlay jobs. The work needs to be done in a tight time frame, which takes an experienced crew of the likes of Complete General. The contractor averages 50,000 square yards of overlay every year, which is more than any competitor in Ohio.
Weekend overlays typically involve removal of the joints at the end of the bridge and bad spots in the deck. The highway closes on Friday evening and a removal crew goes in and jackhammers to remove the joints. If the deck is to be resurfaced, they usually hydro blast it and check for weak spots to jackhammer out. Ideally, the joints are out by the next day, allowing new crews to come in and set the new joints, which are then reframed so concrete can be re-poured, as is the deck. All of it needs to be done on schedule so the concrete can cure and allow the road to be reopened to traffic by Monday morning. If it is not completely cured, there can be liquidated damages, which can be very costly.
Even with a great deal of experience on their side, Complete General needs well-equipped tools in their lineup to get the job done on time. For their jackhammer needs, they go with the Chicago Pneumatic CP 1210 breakers and several in their lineup are utilized year round.
The CP 1210 breakers are in the 35-pound class, but offer the hitting power and high performance of a larger tool. Delivering 1,400 blows per minute, the rugged breakers are designed for light to medium construction work and are easy and comfortable for operators to use.
“Chicago Pneumatic is the standard that our company has used long before I came to work at Complete General,” said Ann Hobstetter, material manager at Complete General. “I once changed it up and bought a different brand and it was not accepted out in the field with our crew. After attempting to use the new brand, they came back to me and told me that they simply do not perform the same — the CP breakers hit harder with much better production.”
Complete General buys equipment like the CP 1210 breakers from Machinery & Tool Rentals, which also is a family-owned company that has been around since 1956. Serving the concrete market, Machinery & Tool Rentals sells equipment, parts, supplies, and repair equipment. They have three full-time mechanics on staff with nearly 100 years of combined experience and an average two days for repair turnaround. Nearly a decade ago, they added skid steer loaders and hydraulic breakers to their rental fleet, but high repair costs and frequent breakdowns caused them to research another option for breakers, ultimately making the switch to CP’s RX4 breakers.
“We have been very pleased with CP’s products and the RX4 has been a great addition to our lineup to go along with all of our CP hand tools,” said Steve Forquer, co-owner of Machinery & Tool Rentals. “We have had virtually no breakdowns, better pricing than the competition, and excellent feedback from our customers — confirming that we made the right decision with CP products.”
The weekend overlay jobs are really gaining steam for Complete General and not only in Ohio. Last year, they completed a job in West Virginia that included five weekends of joint repair and one week of overlays. This year they have already had six weekends of joint repair and 11 weekends of overlay with four more to go throughout West Virginia. The projects had more than 17,000 square yards of overlay and 1,409 feet of joint replacement. The joint replacement usually involves removing approximately two to three feet on each side of the joint and through the whole depth of the bridge.
Experience in the field is a big advantage, but having proficiency to go along with the right tools can put a company miles ahead of the competition. While Complete General Construction certainly has the know-how and tools to set themself apart, being a progressive company since day one when the business originated puts them on top. There is a reason that word has spread past Ohio and entered into West Virginia. With a storied past, the future is bright for the contractor from Columbus.