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Top 10

Ranked by 2016 North Bay revenues. Companywide revenues may be higher.

$126.3M: Wright Contracting, Santa Rosa. Specialization: General building contractor, construction manager.

$78.6M: Ghilotti Constuction Co., Santa Rosa. Specialization: Grading, excavating, paving, underground storm drain, etc.

$62.2M: Ghilotti Bros., San Rafael. Specialization: Complete site-work preparation-paving, grading, concrete, underground, etc.

$62M: Midstate Construction Corp., Petaluma. Specialization: Multifamily residential, retail, office, industrial, etc.

$45M: Jeff Luchetti Construction, Santa Rosa. Specialization: Commercial, residential and modular construction

$30M: Ledcor Construction, Napa. Specialization: Wineries, hospitality, residential, commercial/ mixed-use

$23M: Nordby Construction, Santa Rosa. Specialization: Hospitality, medical/technology, wineries, wine caves, etc.

$17.5M: Jim Murphy & Associates, Santa Rosa. Specialization: Wineries, design/build, office buildings, hospitality, etc.

$15.9M: McDevitt Construction Partners, Petaluma. Specialization: Office interiors, food manufacturing, etc.

$15.4M: Eddinger Enterprises, Healdsburg. Specialization: New construction/tenant improvements for wineries, etc.


The following are profiles of top executives of the highest-ranking companies on the Commercial General Contractors list, ranked by 2016 revenue and published by the Business Journal on March 13.

Mark Davis

Wright Contracting
P.O. Box 1270, Santa Rosa 95402; 707-528-1172; wrightcontracting.com; 58 full-time year-round employees

This year Mark Davis, 54, became a partner in the company Paul V. Wright started in 1953. Davis joined the company in 1986 just after earning an undergraduate construction-management degree from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, and was promoted to president from vice president and operations manager in 2009.

The other partners are Stephen Wright, chief operating officer, and Bryan Wright, vice president.

Heavy winter rains delayed project starts or progress this construction season, Davis said.

“We were able to meet completion dates, despite weather-related setbacks, by creatively stretching, re-allocating and planning usage of our resources, including the already thinly stretched subcontractor workforce,” he said. “Most every contractor in the area had the same problem, which compounded the issue across the industry.”

The busier Greater Bay Area construction business also has extended lead times for materials and subcontractors, Davis said.

“We mitigate this issue by engaging in detailed analysis early in the design process, planning ahead, anticipating potential shortages and establishing built-in contingency plans to address these issues,” he said.

The industry continues to embrace more advanced technology, many of them software-based solutions that allow different players in a project to collaborate remotely, Davis noted. The company has been working “to integrate proven ‘old school’ field knowledge, which is invaluable, with new technologies to create seamless designs,” he said.

Key projects this year have been modernization of Richard Crane Elementary School in Rohnert Park, including a 30,000-square-foot remodel and a new 7,200-square-foot modular building; a 175,000-square-foot, 92-unit expansion at The Meadows Assisted Living in Napa; remodeling the restaurant at The Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa; renovation of TraVigne in St. Helena as Charter Oak Restaurant; Zialena Winery in Geyserville with hospitality and winery buildings of 2,200 and 10,000 square feet, respectively; and Wheeler Farms Winery, a new winery near St. Helena with a 12,000-square-foot subterranean cellar.

Dick Ghilotti

Ghilotti Construction Co.
246 Ghilotti Ave., Santa Rosa 95407; 707-585-1221; ghilotti.com; 275 employees

President and Chief Executive Officer Dick Ghilotti, 70, co-founded the general engineering contracting company in 1992. Stretching back to North Bay roots more than a century ago, the contractor has established offices in Marin and Napa counties and the East Bay and acquired North Bay Construction in 2010.

Growth and expansion in the North Bay economy has kept contractors very busy in the past two years, Ghilotti said.

“Busy means we’re working, and it’s good to see that there is a lot of opportunities in the North Bay,” he said. “The economy as a whole has grown drastically in the North Bay over the pass two years or so. I have noticed that there has been a lot more work for home developers and subdivisions, wineries, and the ‘tourist’ industry.”

New and upgraded technology is dramatically changing how contractors get work done and bringing the industry into the modern era, Ghilotti said.

“New technology for our equipment, for our construction sites and even for our estimators is allowing for tasks to be done more efficiently and in less time,” he said.

Top 10

Ranked by 2016 North Bay revenues. Companywide revenues may be higher.

$126.3M: Wright Contracting, Santa Rosa. Specialization: General building contractor, construction manager.

$78.6M: Ghilotti Constuction Co., Santa Rosa. Specialization: Grading, excavating, paving, underground storm drain, etc.

$62.2M: Ghilotti Bros., San Rafael. Specialization: Complete site-work preparation-paving, grading, concrete, underground, etc.

$62M: Midstate Construction Corp., Petaluma. Specialization: Multifamily residential, retail, office, industrial, etc.

$45M: Jeff Luchetti Construction, Santa Rosa. Specialization: Commercial, residential and modular construction

$30M: Ledcor Construction, Napa. Specialization: Wineries, hospitality, residential, commercial/ mixed-use

$23M: Nordby Construction, Santa Rosa. Specialization: Hospitality, medical/technology, wineries, wine caves, etc.

$17.5M: Jim Murphy & Associates, Santa Rosa. Specialization: Wineries, design/build, office buildings, hospitality, etc.

$15.9M: McDevitt Construction Partners, Petaluma. Specialization: Office interiors, food manufacturing, etc.

$15.4M: Eddinger Enterprises, Healdsburg. Specialization: New construction/tenant improvements for wineries, etc.

He maintains operational and strategic oversight of the company and describes his day-to-day involvement as “hands-on.”

Among the awards he has received are Marin Builders Association Construction Industry Man of the Year and election to the North Coast Builders Exchange’s Construction Hall of Fame.

Mike Ghilotti

Ghilotti Bros.
525 Jacoby St., San Rafael 94901; 415-454-7011; ghilottibros.com; 75 employees

Mike Ghilotti, 55, has been working in construction for 33 years and became president in 2000 of the general engineering contracting company his grandfather James Ghilotti started in 1914.

The long period of winter rains pushed contractor project backlogs into late spring and early summer of this year, significantly reducing competition for public-works jobs, Ghilotti said. But prospects for coming building seasons look promising.

“Rarely have we experienced both the public and private construction markets being so strong for so long, and with the SB-1 funding going into infrastructure as well as the potential for additional North Bay funding coming from toll bridge legislation, things look to stay really active for 2018,” Ghilotti said. “The biggest challenge for this year and next is workforce demands. We need people that want to work outside and build stuff instead of choosing a career sitting in a cubicle behind a computer.”

Three important trends for the business are integrated project delivery, training and succession planning, and facilitated project partnering, Ghilotti said.

“Integrated project delivery is gaining use in our industry especially in the private works arena and utilizes our strength in doing constructability analysis, value engineering and risk analysis in earlier stages of project design to support the client’s goal of achieving the best value for their project,” he said.

Availability of the right workers is incredibly challenging for the industry right now, Ghilotti said.

“The union halls are very thin, and the next generation seems reluctant to enter into the construction industry,” he said. “We are working hard to train, develop and mentor our existing workforce but also to do more with less, including lean construction.”

So the company is putting greater emphasis on training and accelerating the traditional timelines for advancement.

Ghilotti has been heavily involved from early days of partnering, in which project owners and contractors collaborate on solutions more than battle in court. Facilitated project partnering pushes toward mutually agreed-upon lofty project goals, increased communication and cooperation, and ensuring that concerns and impacts on all project stakeholders, even third parties, are addressed.

He currently sits on the executive board of the Caltrans Partnering Steering Committee and is co-chairman of the San Francisco Partnering Steering Committee.

The largest project currently is the expansion of Highway 101 at San Antonio Creek south of Petaluma, with Ghilotti Bros.’s share being $63.8 million. Other notable projects were the $4.12 million improvements to Civic Center Drive in San Rafael, for which the American Society of Civil Engineers awarded Outstanding Transportation Project, and the $10.2 million central Marin ferry connection path in Larkspur, awarded the Urban Development Award of Merit by trade publication ENR.

Ghilotti Bros. employees and matching funds contributed over $25,000 in September to help survivors of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Roger Nelson

Midstate Construction Corp.
1180 Holm Road, Petaluma 94954; 707-762-3200; midstateconstruction.com; 70 employees

Trained in economics, civil and industrial engineering, and construction management, Roger Nelson, 71, has been in management of construction companies for 47 years. He became owner and president of 82-year-old Midstate Construction in 1976.

It’s an “extremely busy” time for contractors, Nelson said.

“The effects of the last long winter are still impacting the labor supply,” he said. “Wages for both general contractors and subcontractors have increased dramatically.”

Residential construction is dominating the market. Midstate has been working on a number of multifamily and hotel projects: H3 Hotel, Healdsburg, $17 million; Crossroads, Santa Rosa, $22 million; Sun House Senior Apartments, Ukiah, $10 million; Altura, Petaluma, $30 million; Hana Gardens, El Cerrito, $19 million; and Valley View Senior Housing, American Canyon, $16 million.

Another notable project this year is a $6 million clinic for Santa Rosa Community Health .

One commercial project type that is facing challenges now is retail, and project owners are blaming internet sales, Nelson said.

“The impact on retail is principally on new shopping centers,” he said, more than on work for renovations and tenant improvements.

Jeff Luchetti

Jeff Luchetti Construction
70 Stony Point Road, Suite D, Santa Rosa 95401; 707-527-5788; jlcbuild.com; 30 employees

With more than 25 years in construction, Jeff Luchetti, 60, started his own general contracting company in 1998. Since then, the company has diversified. JL Builders erects custom homes, and JL Modular constructs permanent and movable buildings for schools, hospitals and correctional facilities.

Nine years after starting, JL Modular in late 2014 opened its first factory, a 45,000-square-foot facility in the former Standard Structures property north of Santa Rosa. The division makes modular and prefabricated structures for the division’s projects as well as for jobs underway by JLC and JL Builders.

“We do a lot of K-12 and higher-education projects throughout Northern California, and it is really picking up speed,” Luchetti said. “The local school districts, as well as the state, have all recently passed bonds, and they are looking at more innovate contracting methods like design-build and lease-leaseback, rather than traditional low-bidding. The advantage to this is that there is a team approach between clients, architects and contractors.”

Two notable projects this year were Santa Rosa multifamily complexes with units built in JL Modular’s factory: 30-unit Ortiz Plaza Family, a development for farmworkers, and 20-unit Magnolia Place Apartments.

Rod Field

Ledcor Construction
466 Devlin Road, Napa 94558; 707-257-5231; ledcorus.com; 22 employees

Canada-based Ledcor Group opened a Napa branch office 14 years ago, and that’s when Rod Field, 47, joined the company. Eight years ago, he became regional manager. His quarter-century in the construction business has been focused on Napa and Sonoma counties.

“This year was good for us, and the next couple of years look really good,” Field said. “It’s way nicer than it used to be, what, eight years ago. Back to normal.”

After a busy spring and summer for subcontractors, the crunch on their time is slackening as the height of the construction season ebbs heading into winter, he said.

“Luckily, we have a really good group of subcontractors, so scheduling wasn’t as big of an issue,” Field said. Three-quarters of the subs Ledcor works with are longtime regional players.

Three main areas of work for Ledcor from Napa are North Coast wineries, high-end custom homes and commercial projects.

“The winery sector has helped out a lot,” Field said. The use-permitting is starting to go through a little easier than it was.”

The county of Napa slowed approvals of winery use permits a few years ago amid public pressure to clamp down on the size of events and production. This year, county officials have focused on developing a permit-compliance process.

“Estate housing (construction) is doing good, but it seems like commercial has picked up a lot in the last year for us,” Field said.

Notable projects this year are the Calistoga Boys & Girls Club Center, which is nearing completion; OLE Health’s south Napa clinic, the concrete slab for which was just poured; Twin Hill Winery in Sebastopol; and phase 1 of the Napa Recycling & Waste Services expansion project.

Craig Nordby, Tony Simmons, Rick Shone and David Schroeder

Nordby Wine Caves, Nordby Construction Services and Nordby Signature Homes
1229 N. Dutton Ave., Suite C, Santa Rosa 95401; 707-526-4500; nordby.net

Nordby Construction was founded in 1978 by Wendell Nordby Jr. One of his sons, Craig Nordby, 46, started working his way up in the company 26 years ago, from project engineer to company manager to full ownership in 2010. Nordby is CEO of the 13-employee commercial general contractor, and Tony Simmons, 41, is vice president of preconstruction and partner.

New technology and materials are changing the industry, Nordby said.

“Technology is allowing us to be more productive than ever before, using computers and new software allows us to save time, money and energy within the space of managing projects. Materials advancements continue to develop through the use of technology,” he said. “This includes materials that are safer for our environment, but at the same time have much longer lifespans and offer less maintenance for the end user.”

In 1996 Craig Nordby co-founded Nordby Wine Caves, which has 10 year-round employees. Rick Shone, 60, became president and co-owner in 2008. Nordby is CEO.

“Our industry started as an extension of the mining business,” Shone said. “In fact, many caves were constructed under a mining permit. That’s all changed now, with finishes and methods of construction becoming more important than ever. We’ve taken a fairly rough process and refined it to current construction practices.”

This calls for crews with a mix of skills in working mining equipment, concrete-reinforcing systems and application of shotcrete — liquid concrete that is sprayed onto walls and ceilings for stabilization and a variety of finishes.

Three projects wrapping this year are a new winery and cave for Capo Creek in Dry Creek Valley, a large facility for Hudson Vineyards in Los Carneros and a large private wine cave in Santa Rosa.

Craig Nordby co-founded Nordby Signature Homes in 2004. Dave Schroeder, 50, started with Nordby Construction in 2000 as a project manager, became vice president of Nordby Signature Homes in 2005 then half-owner and president in 2011. The homebuilder has 16 year-round employees.

A number of clients of the other Nordby businesses have this company build their homes.

“It is the highest compliment when a client comes back for another project,” Schroeder said.

It’s a challenging time to try to find workers for projects that demand high levels of detail and finishes, he said.

“The market this year is creating an even greater demand on the workforce making it critical to maintain solid relationships with subcontractors and vendors and coordinate schedules in great detail to keep projects on track,” Schroeder said.

Close ties with designers and subs is key as more projects include high-efficiency and cutting-edge technology.

“We are seeing more contemporary-style construction these days, which has been a bit of a shift for us, which is good,” Schroeder said.

Jim Murphy and Steve Ronchelli

Jim Murphy & Associates
464 Kenwood Court, Suite B, Santa Rosa 95407; 707-576-7337; j-m-a.com; 34 employees

President Jim Murphy, 75, started the company in 1968. It specializes in design-build, hospitality, private-school, custom-home and wine-related projects.

Vice President Steve Ronchelli, 56, has been in the industry for 38-plus years, working up from a laborer to estimator to project manager. In 2012 he was promoted to vice president of operations and became a minority shareholder.

2017 was “a strong year” for company projects, and projected activity for 2018 looks even better, Murphy said. Currently under construction are several high-end homes at various stages of completion and small commercial projects. The company is providing preconstruction services on four medium- to large-sized commercial projects.

Finding qualified employees, getting projects permitted and managing rising construction costs are affecting how the company operates, Murphy said.

“We are being very selective about the projects we go after, and we are focusing on educating our clients about the process of building their project,” he said.

Accomplishments this year include going 73 months — over six years — so far without an lost-time accident, winning ENR’s Best Office/Mixed-Use Project award for Northern California and Hawaii and being named a Gold-level Best Contractor in NorthbayBiz’s reader poll.

Willie McDevitt, Peter Rosell and John Bare

McDevitt Construction Partners
3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 6, Petaluma 94954; 707-763-3000; mcdevittconstruction.com; 13 employees

President “Willie” McDevitt, 64, co-founded the company as McDevitt & McDevitt Construction in 1976. The name changed in 2011 when project manager Peter Rosell, 65, joined ownership and was promoted to vice president. Rosell had joined the company in 2008 after 13 years at Midstate Construction, finishing as vice president of operations. John Bare became a partner, vice president and project manager in 2014, when he moved over from Midstate Construction.

“We’ve been very fortunate to maintain great relationships with owners, architects, subcontractors and city staffs by being proactive in the preconstruction phase of projects,” McDevitt said. “In today’s environment, the hardest work is getting a project permitted and started.”

But then builders run up against a shortage of qualified workers, which is also causing delays for the company’s subcontractors, most of which also are trying to hire, he said. And then the rapid rampup in project activity also is escalating costs from subcontractors as well as suppliers and manufacturers.

“The construction industry in the North Bay operating at 125 percent of capacity,” McDevitt said. “It is stressful at all levels.”

The company’s key projects this year have been Weatherford BMW dealership in Berkeley, Helen Vine Treatment Center in San Rafael, Splash Car Wash in Santa Rosa and renovations at Bon Air Shopping Center in Larkspur.

Jerry Eddinger

Eddinger Enterprises
62 W. North St., Healdsburg 95448; 707-433-5113; eddingers.com; 35 employees

Trained in plumbing, heating and cooling systems in the Navy and in roofing and general construction after leaving the service, Jerry Eddinger, 78, and his wife, Mary Lou, started the commercial and residential general contractor in 1968.

He has been active in Healdsburg civics, serving on the City Council, as mayor and a planning commissioner. The company now includes three generations: daughters, a son-in-law and a grandson.

The company is about as busy as it’s ever been, Eddinger said.

“2016 and 2017 have proven to be very active, and 2018 is shaping up to be the same,” he said.

To keep change orders to a minimum in this hectic environment, the company is working more closely with clients, consultants and subcontractors.

“Construction truly has turned into a collaborative effort which builds trust and puts the clients’ best interests first,” he said.

While the company’s year-round staff have worked there an average of 10 years, its subcontractors are scrambling for talent, lengthening project lead times, increasing overtime hours and increasing bid amounts.

To help the industry past the problem for more than a decade of fewer people entering the construction trades, Eddinger has been increasing training in-house and backing local programs such as career technical education and the CASA program at Healdsburg High School.

And costs also are going up for materials and consultants.

“The biggest struggle, though, is what’s involved at the permitting level — costs for getting a project through the system, from understaffed building departments to third-party planchecks and inspections to costs of required consultants to get through the process,” Eddinger said. “It’s taking more money and time than we’ve ever experienced.”

Notable projects this year are a headquarters for Engelke Construction, new factory for Chevoo and Fourth & Heart, Vintners Inn suites expansion and Prevail Winery.


Jeff Quackenbush (jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256) covers the wine business and commercial construction and real estate.