Avella says good customer service also contributes to furthering the pumping industry. "Pumping benefits the customer in regards to timeliness and labor - with a pump you get consistent flow and less of a mess, and the concrete gets where it needs to go faster than with other methods," he explains. "Pumping is a benefit for workers, too, because the concrete goes right where you want it and there's less moving it around. And you also avoid the hassle of having to cut a road or move trees because you can pump over things."
The Ruttura & Sons package - combining services offered, technical expertise, a strong safety record and the financial benefits that come with an established company - puts the business in a position to be more of a specialty contractor than a subcontractor. Many customers value Ruttura & Sons, its systems and professionalism, and Ruttura isn't sad to say "goodbye" to those who don't. "We don't want to work with people who don't appreciate our expertise," Ruttura says.
Each year he makes a bold move and "fires" a customer that has been difficult to work with or collect money from, in essence giving both companies a break from working with each other for one year. On the other hand, Ruttura goes out of his way to recognize good work. He might take the time to write a "thank you" note to the president of a general contracting firm pointing out his company's successes and why they're easy to work with. And each year Ruttura recognizes New York City's best ready mix driver with his own Ruttura & Sons award, usually a t-shirt and a heap of gratitude.
Ruttura & Sons didn't get to where it is overnight. The company has been on a growth plan since 1971 - growth that was carefully monitored and planned. Ruttura emphasizes that he couldn't have developed his business without help from industry associations like the American Concrete Institute (ACI) and the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC). He credits these groups with furthering the technical side of concrete while helping contractors develop into businessmen. "The ASCC has been the greatest thing for me and our company. It's like having a big board of directors of concrete contractors from all over the country. It's my security blanket."
Ruttura's early growth goals were met easily. It was while crossing the $6 million in annual sales point that the company hit its first speed bump and sought the help of FMI Corporation for management consulting. "There were a lot of different personalities in the business. I was always thinking about my job and the company, but not everyone was. I expected a lot from other people, and FMI helped us understand how to get along with people," Ruttura explains.
The $20 million threshold was another point in the company's growth that brought substantial change in the way Ruttura ran his business. He explains that at this point in a concrete contracting business you move into a different arena in regards to the size of projects, amount of paperwork, cash flow, requirements for a larger retainer, dealing with a bigger payroll and working with customers who are less personal. "This is where you go from being a big guy in a small fishbowl to a bigger company in a big fish bowl," Ruttura says.
When Ruttura's daughter Nicole Hogan came on board shortly after this shift, she brought a fresh outlook and recognized ways to organize the office that would streamline the entire company for further growth. She put processes in place to greatly improve filing systems, billing, payroll, project management software and managing job drawings. And Nicole herself plays an important part in the organization of the company along with fellow office manager Charlene, who schedules and tracks the pumping business from the office end. Ruttura says the office managers control appointments and calendars for him and Peter, and they wouldn't know what they were doing or where they were going without them. "The company needs people who back them up. It's women like Nicole and Charlene who point us in the right direction, smooth out the bumps in the road and can give us the softer side of business," he says.
As the company continued to grow, Ruttura recognized areas of the business that had outgrown his management skills and he had to learn to give up some of those responsibilities and bring in people to manage those areas of the business. "Giving up the financials was hard," Ruttura says of hiring a CFO. "But it's all part of growth, and you have to accept it."