Productivity and quality work fuel Connell’s longstanding reputation for excellence
Reputation is not a characteristic taken lightly at Connell, Inc., a premier erection and rigging contractor based in Youngstown, Ohio. Attention to detail, teamwork, flexibility and solid productivity are attributes that Connell manpower delivers every day, to every client, says company president Jerry Harper.
Today’s Connell is a transformation of Matt S. Connell, Inc., which opened more than 60 years ago. Harper teamed with fellow management colleague and veteran construction executive Ken Black to purchase Matt S. Connell in 1995. Harper, an operating engineer by trade, excelled in outside operations; Black, with an engineering and financial background, shined at business matters. The two had their new venture humming almost immediately.
Connell, Inc. has a huge reputation for excellence to live up to. It is a company possessing outstanding qualifications, a history of performing quality work, and an exceptional customer satisfaction record. The name has been a part of the local construction industry since the mid-1900s. Repeat customers – some with relationships with Connell spanning three decades – have come to rely on superior work done on time and on budget. Serving the eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania regions, the company is often called upon by specialty and general contractors, as well as project owners, when expert work is needed on anything from heavy rigging and equipment installations to pre-engineered metal building erection.
“Commercial and public work is normally done for other contractors. Industrial work is mostly done directly for owners and is a combination of maintenance, upgrading and new construction,” Harper said, adding: “Our industrial customers are from a variety of industries including steel, aluminum, plastics, energy and automotive.”
Connell also rests its reputation on its productivity and efficiency. Making sure the right tools are available for their men means having equipment ready at all times and at all hours. Connell owns the equipment needed for the construction of normal projects. That equipment includes hydraulic cranes from 6-to-50 ton capacity, trucks, scissor and boom lifts, welders, and specialty tools for moving, assembling and aligning machinery and heavy equipment.
As new company owners, Harper and Black knew that all the tools in the world were useless unless the right crew operated them. So, one of the first commitments was to assemble an all-star lineup of professionals, no matter how long it took.
The men are each active in the industry, having seats as employer representatives on advisory, training, and advancement committees with the ironworkers union. Among other things, this has provided them with the opportunity to get a closer look at the manpower pool.
“We hand-picked all of our workers, one at a time,” Harper said. “We could see who had the work ethic that could complement our company’s environment. A number of our veterans are our former apprentices who learned the work ethic, and understood what was required of them, and who voluntarily stayed.”
Low turnover, excellent attendance at training sessions, productivity, and a mutual respect for each other are the results of Harper and Black’s commitment to gaining just the right workers. Connell maintains a nucleus of about 20 key employees, but has supplied as many as 75 for projects.
“We’re like a family here. Our men look at the company like it’s their own, not like it’s just a job. That attitude translates to an excellent work product. Our men want to produce great results and they work together to achieve that,” Harper said.
Problem-solving on the job site, adjusting schedules to meet new deadlines, altering shifts in a project’s mid-stream, and caring for the environment that they work in are trademarks of Connell employees and their work.
In addition to their time on ironworker committees, both Harper and Black are also active with the Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. The Builders represents employers in Trumbull, Columbiana and Mahoning counties in eastern Ohio and Mercer and Lawrence counties in western Pennsylvania. The group services 15 different skilled trades in the region, and is an ongoing resource for union construction contractors such as Connell, Inc. Members of The Builders have access to state-of-the-art education and training, unlimited manpower from apprenticeship and union labor halls, contract negotiation support, and a pool of technical, administrative and support resources.
Black and Harper each hold leadership positions with The Builders, a commitment each say is well worth the time. “If you stay involved in labor-management relations, and keep up on industry advancements, good things happen for your company,” Harper said. “It’s important to give back to the industry and support it so that it continues to provide promising young professionals.”
The strong training programs associated with The Builders and the union trades are also assets.
“I believe union building trades are the way to go, because of the pool of skilled manpower that is available,” Black said. “When we need additional manpower, we don’t have to worry about who is and who is not prepared.”
Connell employees complete training from apprenticeship through foreman and superintendent positions. All welders are mandated to be certified by the American Welding Society. Because they are expected to work safely and productively, skill advancement is a crucial element to the business and work philosophy of the company.
“Just the fact that we have training doesn’t guarantee anything,” Black explained, “but combine that with a good management program and now you’ve got a cost/value that is attractive to the customer.”
About Connell, Inc.
Connell, Inc. will deliver results in:
- Steelwork – mill buildings, equipment support systems, access walkways, pre-engineered buildings, etc.
- Furnaces – melting, re-heat, annealing and conditioning
- Pollution Control Equipment – baghouses, scrubbers, clarifiers, and filters
- Rolling Equipment – mills, drives, roll tables and auxiliary equipment
- Cranes & Material Handling – Overhead cranes of all types and sizes, jib cranes, monorails and conveyors
- Finishing Equipment – straighteners, grinders, saws, presses, coaters, etc.
For more information, contact Harper or Black at: