After more than 50 years, Monroe Roadways remains successful by being proactive when it comes to clients’ needs, co-owner Bob Ryan says. “When a customer calls with a problem, we respond immediately,” he says. “We’re very customer-oriented.”
Based in Denver, N.C., Monroe Roadways performs land-clearing, erosion-control, paving and grading, and underground utilities work for clients in the Carolinas. Co-owner Paul Carini’s father started the company in Rochester, N.Y., in 1962.
But when Monroe Roadways began taking on work in North Carolina during the winters, it saw opportunities in the state and quickly turned it into a year-round operation. In 2001, both Ryan and the younger Carini decided to purchase Monroe Roadways from its stockholders.
“It was an agreeable buyout that benefitted all parties involved,” Carini recalls. Afterward, he and Ryan became the company’s sole owners.
Today, Monroe Roadways employs a staff of approximately 50 that includes people who have been with the company for as long as 35 years. “That’s a pretty good feat,” Ryan says, explaining that this longevity is rare for the construction industry.
The majority of Monroe Roadway’s senior managers, he adds, have been promoted from within. “Every one of our superintendents and foremen for the last 40 years have started out as laborers and worked their way up,” he declares.
Like many in construction, Monroe Roadways was hit by the economic recession. The company saw declines in its commercial and subdivision work and was forced to lay off several employees. Subdivisions, Carini notes, were the company’s primary market.
To cope, Monroe Roadways has focused on municipal work over the past three years. “You have times where … you’re in survival mode,” he says, noting that the company nevertheless has managed to keep successful.
While Monroe Roadways continues to take on pipeline and waterline projects for cities, it is now seeing an upswing, Ryan reports. “The economy is starting to rebound fairly decently,” he says.
The company recently completed several subdivisions and a $4 million sewer project in Greensboro. In addition, the firm has a $3 million contract for site work at a new Sam’s Club location in Rock Hill, S.C.
For the project, which is located on a 20-acre site, Monroe Roadways’ work includes 25,000 yards of structural fill, 10,000 feet of utilities work, erosion control lining and soil treatment on the entire site. Ryan adds that the company also is constructing two retaining walls for the project.
Monroe Roadways is also at work on a $2 million sewer project in Lincoln County, N.C., that includes a sewer pump station and 1,000 feet of directional boring, Ryan says. The company also pulled off the task of completing a $4 million sanitary sewer project four and a half months ahead of schedule in Peach Orchard, N.C.
Carini and Ryan say that they have enjoyed the process of managing Monroe Roadways side by side for the past 12 years. “I think what’s kept us working together for so long is trust,” Carini explains. “He knows what I’m good at and I know what he’s good at and we let each other do it.”
Both men see growth ahead for the company. Monroe Roadways did have to downsize, but “I see a very slow increase,” in the size of the workforce ahead, Carini says.
Growing slowly but steadily is a modest goal, but Carini adds that he would not mind seeing a boom, either. “I hope it goes like gangbusters,” he says.
Ryan adds that Monroe Roadways might add boring and drilling to its specialties at some point. “Paul is talking to a directional drill company right now,” Ryan says, explaining that this would involve a merger with Monroe Roadways. “We would like to look at that and maybe go that way, instead of subbing it all out.
“Outside of that, the company’s been very successful with what we’ve done,” Ryan concludes. “It’s going to stay status quo. We’ve been very fortunate.”