A surge in public-sector construction throughout California is keeping Santa Clarita-based contractor AMG & Associates busy, with clients that range from public school and college districts to the federal government.
Ninety percent of the company’s work is in the public sector, mostly in California, said founder and CEO Albert Giacomazzi, and business is booming. “We’re way past the recession, and with the 2016 election behind us, there’s a clear attitude that economic conditions are improving,” he said.
“On the federal level, we’re seeing increased spending on defense,” Giacomazzi added, and on the local and state level, local jurisdictions across the state have passed bond issues representing projects worth between $8 billion and $9 billion.
Giacomazzi has lived in the Santa Clarita Valley since moving from Granada Hills as a child with his family in 1962. He is a graduate of Canyon High School, and holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.
The company has 32 employees and last year had revenues of $45 million. “Our projection for this year is $63 million, and that will certainly grow” with half the year remaining, Giacomazzi said.
He is optimistic about growth prospects over the next few years. “It’s not as fiercely competitive as it was during the recession. If there’s a downside, it’s the shortage of skilled labor,” which the company addresses by keeping in regular contact with its subcontractors, to keep projects moving forward as smoothly as possible.
Over the eleven years since the company’s founding, technology has evolved both for AMG employees and in terms of how buildings work.
“When we started, we used to just have laptops,” Giacomazzi said. “Today, we still have laptops, but we also carry iPads or Surface Pro tablets, and of course everyone carries an iPhone or other smartphone.”
The array of connected devices makes it possible to identify and communicate problems that arise more quickly and accurately than in the past. Change orders are not incorporated into electronic versions of construction drawings.
“If we have to move a gas line, for example, that information gets incorporated into the electronic plans very easily,” Giacomazzi said.
“Most government entities are pretty current with their technology and understand the benefits of digital documents over paper,” he said. While a set of paper plans is usually still required, AMG’s estimating department is paperless, and all meeting minutes are kept electronically.
Buildings are also getting smarter. AMG was a contractor for NASA’s Facilities Support Center at Edwards Air Force Base, completed two years ago.
Sensors throughout the building can detect changes in room temperature caused by the number of people who enter or leave a room and adjust heating and air conditioning accordingly. Users can use their tablets to program lights to go on in a conference room just before the start of a meeting.
High-efficiency photovoltaic panels cover the roof, and the roof itself is high-tech. The single-ply PVC membrane keeps the building cooler than older modified asphalt roofs. “You just roll it out and glue it down, and if it gets a hole, you just cut a round piece and glue down the patch,” Giacomazzi said.
Among AMG’s current work are three projects in California that are worth a combined $34 million:
- AMG is lead contractor for a $14-million athletic complex at Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley in Riverside County. Construction will include a new stadium, three new service buildings, a new track and field, athletic fields, and tennis courts.
- AMG won a $10.2 million contract with the Department of the Army to overhaul a hangar at Beale Air Force Base just north of Sacramento. The project, just getting started, will add interior structures to the building for repair shops, conference rooms, and administrative offices. The hangar is used for maintenance and repair of KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft.
“It’s an 18-month project that includes a gut renovation, seismic upgrades, and bringing the building up to current code,” Giacomazzi said, adding that he and the company have set a goal of completing the work ahead of schedule.
- In Buena Park in northwestern Orange County, construction started last month on a $9.4 million fire station. The 18,000 square foot Station No. 61 will include a three-lane bay for fire-fighting equipment, a dormitory, training room, and administrative offices.
One project AMG has built outside of California is a federal immigration holding facility in McAllen, Texas, at the southern tip of the state along the Mexican border. Built for the U.S. Corps of Engineers and Department of Homeland Security, it provides a place to temporarily detain non-U.S. citizens caught entering the country illegally before they are returned to their countries of origin.
Experience building such a facility raises the question of whether AMG might consider bidding on contracts for a border wall. Giacomazzi said that’s unlikely. “It’s not really our type of project, and since just the cost of design documents would run many tens of thousands of dollars, I’d expect much larger contractors to bid on that.”
A 134% three-year average growth rate placed AMG Inc. Magazine’s 2016 list of the 5000 fastest growing private companies, with the firm coming in at number 2,635. It is the seventh time in the last eight years the company has made the list.
The company has also been recognized as one of the top contractors in California by Engineering News-Record and as one of the fastest growing private companies in Los Angeles County by the LA Business Journal.