CARONE & COMPANY, INC.
While Carone & Company, Inc. has only existed in its current incarnation since 1999, this well-known and reputable Northern California contractor attributes much of its success to the knowledge and experience gained from a family tradition of entrepreneurial endeavors stretching back more than five decades.
THE CARONE FAMILY
TAKES ROOT IN CALIFORNIA
Originally from Sicily, Italy, the Carones immigrated to California around 1906. The family included six children, of whom two — Joe (born in 1918) and Gatano (or “Fuz,” born in 1916) would play crucial roles in sowing the seeds from which Carone & Company would one day blossom. Joe and Fuz’ father owned and operated a school store/gas station in Crockett, California (where the building still stands today), establishing the family’s entrepreneurial spirit early on.
Joe Carone began working as a welder at the shipyards in 1940, building battleships He was drafted in 1942 and survived a tour of duty during World War II’s Anzio invasion, earning a certificate for heroism. He returned home in 1945, saved up his money and then, along with his brothers, Melo, Fuz, and Tony (“Ned”), he opened a grocery store in Rodeo, four miles from Crockett. While working as a butcher at the grocery store, Joe met the love of his life, Betty Lou from Austin Texas. They married in 1947, and she became the “great woman behind the successful man,” as the old saying goes. Soon four children followed: Anna (the oldest) and then Joel, Bruce and Lloyd.
In 1956, Joe and Fuz transformed their grocery store interest into a rubber-tired loader and a dump truck, perceiving a need for an excavating and paving company. Calling their new business Carone Bros. Excavating, they rented yard space next to the Union Oil Petroleum Company in Rodeo. Union Oil became their No. 1 year-round client. The brothers’ oldest sister, Mini Molinari, was the bookkeeper, while her husband, Mario, became the No. 1 truck driver. Carone Bros. and all future companies bearing the Carone name were (and are) signature to the local unions.
During the 60s and 70s, Joe and Fuz were hard at work six days a week operating a successful business, putting their own sons to work at age 10 and working them on Saturdays and through the summers. The Exxon refinery in Benicia was built in the 60s, bringing Carone Bros. another account. The brothers moved their headquarters from Rodeo to Hercules in the late 60s, buying land from the Hercules Powder Company and developing their own corporation yard, shop, and office on approximately five acres of land just south of Highway 4.
Around this time, Joe and Fuz also briefly ventured off into the construction air business, purchasing a helicopter, but the chopper never got off of the ground, and neither did their business. They sold the chopper and the business within a year.
During the 70s, the firm expanded outside of the industrial zone. Joe’s son, Bruce, graduated from Sacramento State with a degree in construction management, and Bruce began to bid city highway projects with success as a prime contractor. Employed at this time with Carone Bros., Lloyd followed in his older brother Bruce’s footsteps, graduating from Sacramento State with a construction management degree. Lloyd concentrated on bidding and managing private and public work while the firm acted as a subcontractor. Fuz Sr. and his son, Randy, operated the Exxon account, while Joe’s oldest son, Joel, managed the Union Oil (which became known as Unocal) account.
During the early 80s, Carone Bros. contracted with large firms such as Bechtel, Parsons, Fluor, Swinerton, L.E. Wentz, C. Overaa & Co., and Dillingham, to name a few.
A TIME OF TRANSITION:
1986 TO 1999
In 1986, Joe Carone retired at age 68 from Carone Bros., leaving his 50 percent interest to be managed by his three sons, Joel, Bruce, and Lloyd. In the 1980s, the three young brothers became even more inspired to be in business on their own after watching their sister and her Vietnam-veteran husband become successful entrepreneurs by opening a San Francisco-based bakery business called Baby Cakes. In 1989, differences of opinion between Fuz Sr. (still president of the company at age 73) and his son, Randy; and Joe’s three sons, Joel, Bruce, and Lloyd; led to a corporate division. The result was the formation of Joe Carone Inc.; Joe’s sons were on their own.
Determined to expand and accelerate their newly formed business, Joel, Bruce, and Lloyd moved their headquarters to a Crockett yard owned by Joe Carone. Bruce Carone immediately won the company’s first million-dollar contract with the City of Pinole for the Appian Way Highway widening. Joel continued to manage a strong relationship with the local oil refineries, while Lloyd continued to bid and manage miscellaneous projects, mainly as a subcontractor. In eight years, Joe Carone Inc. grew from 25 employees to more than 125 employees, grossing more than $22 million in annual volume — five times more than it had in its first year in business.
In 1996, the three brothers bought seven acres in Concord North Business Park. Between the three shareholders, they had 12 children. They decided that it was time to expand again, so in 1999, the firm split once again, dividing cooperatively into three equal firms. The memory of the previous, contentious split made this split that much easier — only one attorney and one accountant were involved to represent all three parties, with no independent attorneys necessary.
CARONE & COMPANY TODAY
Today, Carone & Company thrives as a union firm celebrating 60 years of continued success. From its mother companies, Carone & Company, led by Joe’s youngest son, Lloyd Carone, undertakes exceptional projects that continue helping to build Northern California. The company now grosses more than $20 million annually, working as a sub and general contractor. Much of the company’s business comes from working with the same Bay Area general contractors repeatedly for as long as 50 years, often on different phases of the same project (including schools, parking garages, hospitals, water treatment plants, petrochemical units, and commercial buildings), much as Joe and Fuz Carone once worked repeatedly for the same oil refineries.
PAST PROJECTS COMPLETED BY
CARONE & COMPANY INCLUDE:
Assisting West Bay Builders with the mass excavation of the main anchor foundation for the Bay Bridge suspension section at the Yerba Buena Island. The holes were 60 feet by 60 feet and 90 feet deep, blasted & excavated through solid rock; All of the demo, utility, grading, and paving work for the Costco of Vacaville, a $3.6 million contract, with all of the work performed in less than six months on the 25-acre site; Site work for the new, 16-lane toll plaza for the New Benicia Bridge, working as a subcontractor to West Bay Builders, a $1.7 million job; All of the site work for the California State Department of Health Services in Richmond, California, Phases I through III, totaling more than $5 million of work; All of the site work for two and a half entire city blocks, as well as building the south end extension of Locust Street in downtown Walnut Creek, a project called Plaza Escuela and Olympic Place. This project involved a major off-haul excavation of more than 135,000 cubic square yards of earth, and totaled more than $3.5 million of work; and Installation of seven miles of underground piping and more than 300 underground structures at the new Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, finishing the $1.7 million contract in three months.
To help it successfully and routinely complete such complex and demanding projects, Carone & Company employs modern technology in every area of its business, from estimating and scheduling to cost accounting and operating equipment.
In order to perform $1 to $1.5 million of site demo, grading, utility work, paving, and material processing work each month, Carone & Company maintains more than 80 pieces of heavy equipment in its fleet. Always ahead of the curve, Carone & Company continually replaces fully depreciated equipment with modern, high-tech equipment. Excavators are now equipped with laser-guided tracking devices. Grade controls for rough and finish grading equipment are now equipped with global positioning satellite devices. The company’s paving lay-down machines now have sonar electronic finish matt grade control devices.
To maintain a comfortable profit margin, Carone & Company became its own materials supplier in 2001, purchasing a 13-acre site with heavy industry zoning. This allowed the company to start its own subsidiary company called Diablo Valley Rock, which is a concrete and asphalt recycling plant, enabling the company to supply all of its own aggregate base materials.
Today, the company maintains a full work schedule, working hard to keep its field workers going year round. During periods of wet weather, this helps the company maintain its full-time employees. Being a union contractor, Carone employs only the finest operating engineers available in today’s marketplace — and it aims to keep those employees at all costs. Employing approximately 75 people is a challenge, but when more than a dozen of the company’s field foremen have more than 300 years of combined experience, the firm’s place in the industry stays solid, with those employees serving as its most valuable asset.
Lloyd Carone attributes the company success to its employees, noting that every construction project is a special mission. Communication and safety are the “name of the game.” Carone was trained by his No. 1 inspiration, Mr. Richard “Dick” (Nickles), head advisor at California State University at Sacramento during the early 1980s, “to plan the plan and work that plan successfully and safely.” Today Carone & Company employees execute such planned performances of demolition, grading, utilities, paving and now also material processing.
Much of Carone & Company’s success, in fact, stems from the integrity, safety, professionalism, and quality of the company’s dedicated team of long-term employees — people who understand the industry and know how to solve issues (before they become problems) and maintain client satisfaction, resulting in repeat clientele and outstanding job performance.
As CEO of the firm, Lloyd Carone continues to guide Carone & Company with his longtime professionalism and knowledge of the business, always with the support and understanding of his wife, Jane and their five children.
Success is truly a team effort, as Carone & Company’s long history so aptly illustrates. This team effort, characterized by an overarching commitment to quality and safety, has enabled Carone & Company, Inc. to earn its well-respected place as one of the East Bay’s leading site-work contractors.
Carone & Company is the best Bay Area Subcontractor