Ted Civetta Jr., BTEA’s new co-chair, started in the construction industry when he was 15 years old.

On June 6 Ted Civetta Jr. was unanimously elected BTEA Co-Chair by the Association’s Board of Governors. He will serve alongside Kristine DeNapoli, President and Treasurer of KND Electric, who was approved as Co-Chair in February.

Civetta is the President of John Civetta & Sons, a leading heavy construction contractor based in The Bronx. A family business that is entering its fourth-generation, Civetta & Sons has continued to thrive over nearly 100 years doing sophisticated, complex projects like One Vanderbilt, Manhattan West, Cornell University on Roosevelt Island, and the American Museum of Natural History’s Gilder Center.

In the following interview, Civetta talks about how BTEA brings value to his business and reveals what his focus will be as Co-Chair.

 

BTEA: Can you tell us about John Civetta & Sons, your history with the company, and the type of projects you work on?

TED: We’re a heavy construction contractor. We’re members of the General Contractors Association, the GCA. My family has been an excavation and foundation subcontractor since the 1920s. My grandfather came over from Italy and he started as a stonemason and then he and his brother started the business. I started working for the company in 1971. I was 15 years old. I’ve been there ever since, except for a five-year stint with the Army Corps of Engineers in New York. We started performing general contracting work in the late 1980s and now we’ve grown from an excavation and foundation company, which we still do, to also doing subway construction, roads, bridges, parks, parking garages, and small buildings.

 

BTEA: What’s the importance to you of associations like BTEA and GCA?

TED: My father was a past president of the GCA. That was back in 1982. I grew up in the GCA. That’s all I’ve known and, to me, it’s a great organization. They represent us with the unions and city, state and federal officials and really that’s why the GCA and BTEA are important for their members. They provide us with a unified voice, which makes it stronger. It’s like listening to an orchestra instead of one guy playing a violin. If you want to get your point heard, you have to have a whole organization behind you.

 

BTEA: What do you want to focus on during your tenure as BTEA Co-Chair?

TED: These are really challenging times in New York City for union contractors. Non-union has taken a strong foothold in the city. What I would like to do is get back the private sector work we’ve lost. It’ll be difficult. We need to develop a strategy to convince owners that union construction is safer, faster and provides a living wage for our construction workers. Really, that’s going to be my focus over the next year.

 

BTEA: From a government or policy standpoint, what would you like to see changed or improved to help your business thrive?

TED: There’s a lot of city regulations. Taxes are tough. Insurance is crazy because of laws and regulations instituted by the state and the Feds. The Scaffold Law is really a problem for us. All of those things are significant, but, to me, the biggest thing, though, really the non-union issue. That’s really what’s driving me crazy. I’ve been fighting it for 10 years as a member of the GCA and it really forced my company into more public sector work. If we could attack that, it would really be great.

 

BTEA: What do you think is the most important thing that needs to happen to turn the tide against the rise of non-union construction?

I think the biggest thing is that we have to convince owners that in order for a person to live in New York City and have a decent quality of life they have to have a wage that can support their family. I don’t see how people do it for $25 an hour or whatever these nonunion guys are getting paid out there. That’s really my thing. People have to get paid right.