A Reputation That Continues to Build
Family legacy serves as springboard to Racanelli Construction Co., Inc.’s multigenerational success
In the Long Island community, the Racanelli name has roots in the real estate and construction industries that run deep—generations deep, in fact. Foundational values that were established nearly 70 years ago have paved the path to a lasting legacy at family-owned Racanelli Construction Co., Inc. (Racanelli Construction)—and countless project opportunities across a diverse range of sectors.
Aspirations for a Better Life
The company’s respected industry reputation started with Nicholas Racanelli Sr., an Italian-born immigrant hailing from the port city of Bari, off the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
“Like many immigrants in the early 1900s, my grandfather likely came to America to forge a better life,” shares Richard “Rich” Racanelli, one of four brothers who lead Racanelli Construction today. “He came over by himself at the age of 15 with only $5 in his pocket. He worked in various businesses, including ice delivery, building boxes and delivering fuel oil.” Nicholas Sr.’s remarkable work ethic enabled him to save enough money to bring his siblings over from Italy, too.
Recognizing the excellent building and property development opportunities on Long Island, Nicholas Sr. established N. Racanelli Associates in the 1950s. The eldest of his six children, Martin “Marty” Sr. was the first family member to join the business, followed by two other sons, Nicholas Jr. and John.
Before long, the Racanelli name had become synonymous with commercial and industrial development in the region. According to Rich, this achievement was buoyed by the founder’s commitment to demonstrate honesty, integrity and loyalty both on the job and in the community—principles that continue to be upheld by his descendants.
In the 1980s, four members of the third generation were added to the ranks—Nicholas H., Michael, Rich and Martin “Marty” Jr. Looking for additional market opportunities, these brothers were instrumental in transforming the company’s operations from a development-based business to include general contracting and construction management services.
Market Crash Reveals Racanelli Resilience
Just as the team was hitting its stride with these new offerings, the commercial real estate market in New York took a nosedive, forcing the company to reorganize in the early 1990s. Brothers Nicholas H., Michael, Rich and Marty Jr. split off and formed Racanelli Construction in 1992, which started out offering general contracting and construction management services.
“Because we had prior experience and contacts in construction, it seemed like the most natural course for us to take,” Rich says. “One thing that my grandfather, dad and uncles left us is a strong, reputable name that really was the springboard to launch our new business.”
In 2000, Marty Sr. also joined his sons at Racanelli Construction, serving in an advisory role for many years. The wise and esteemed business mentor passed away in 2015, at age 77, and is remembered as a devoted husband, father and grandfather. In the loving tribute found on the company’s website, the following sentiments are especially touching: “Through good times and bad, Marty could be counted on to stay strong, remain positive and keep things moving forward. He was, at heart, an eternal optimist—always appreciative of his family and all the good things in his life.”
Leadership in Construction
Racanelli Construction’s early momentum—and the lasting impact of influential leaders such as Marty Sr.—continues to propel the company to new heights. Today, the business provides a diverse suite of services, including preconstruction planning, construction management, general contracting and design-build. This work is mostly focused on Long Island and in the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and regions in New Jersey, Massachusetts and North Carolina.
“We’ve also been able to get back into real estate development, though on a smaller scale compared to my father and uncles’ company,” Rich says. A staff of approximately 100 people is spread across the company’s headquarters location in Melville, New York, and satellite office in Apex, North Carolina.
Name recognition fuels both new and repeat business across a broad range of sectors, with bonding capacity well in excess of $100 million. A robust portfolio of projects includes corporate headquarters, industrial complexes, hospitals, assisted living facilities, universities and colleges, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, churches, storage buildings, condominiums, townhouses, government facilities and more.
“The quantity and size of our projects has really grown over the years,” Rich shares. Director of Marketing Carmine Martuscello, a member of the Racanelli Construction team since 1997, concurs. He explains that some of this growth has been spurred by the booming Long Island residential market, as well as the company’s long-standing expertise in constructing engineered metal building systems.
When asked to list a few signature projects, Carmine declares, “We have too many to name!” But he does mention some of the team’s latest work, including a 48-unit luxury condominium in Glenwood Landing, a Long Island hamlet. It is situated on a 5-acre waterfront site on the iconic Gold Coast, and was designed, developed and built by Racanelli Construction.
“We just finished five airplane hangars at two airports here on Long Island and hotel projects in Garden City and Ronkonkoma, New York,” he notes further. “Right now, we’re working on a mixed-use building in Jamaica, Queens, consisting of a parking garage, residential tower and office space, among many other projects.”
According to Rich, a great track record for excellent project execution has enhanced Racanelli Construction’s reputation. “This demonstrates to clients that we are dependable, competent and trustworthy,” he states. “We also treat our subcontractors fairly and with honesty and integrity, and make sure they get paid for their valuable work.” He defines a successful job as one that is completed on time, within or under budget, and with as few headaches as possible. Proper communication, he adds, is key to achieving streamlined, stress-free projects.
“My brothers and I serve as project executives, so ultimately, the buck stops with us—we’re responsible for these projects,” Rich says. As project executives, the Racanelli leadership plays a vital role in improving project outcomes and profitability—especially on larger or highly complex jobs, and on work that requires greater manpower or longer lead times for scheduling. He continues, “Our clients have direct access to us, and we help to resolve any issues or dilemmas.”
A Team That’s All Heart
Employee longevity is another hallmark of Racanelli Construction. According to Carmine, “Team members are happy to make a lifelong career here, thanks to the supportive leadership style, team-oriented atmosphere, and competitive pay and benefits.”
Community involvement and philanthropic support are near and dear to the hearts of company executives. “We’re very active in the community and serve on a number of boards,” Rich says. “We also donate to many charities; doing this is our salute to the contributions and generosity of others who, in giving of themselves, improve the quality of life for us all.”
Recruiting young people to the team is another important focus. Carmine says, “We have recruited people from nearby Farmingdale State College, which has an excellent construction program, as well as those pursuing construction management degrees at SUNY Delhi, a college in upstate New York.”
Sometimes, young talent can present itself in unique ways. For instance, Racanelli Construction is involved in a local program that engages employers willing to provide part-time work to high schoolers with special needs.
“When this opportunity first presented itself about three years ago, the Racanelli leadership’s response was, ‘Absolutely, let’s do it!’ ” Carmine recalls. Through this program, several students with special needs have gained valuable work experience at Racanelli Construction—and even more importantly, confidence that they, too, can be productive members of society.
Recently, the company won an award for helping special needs individuals through this program. Of all the accolades received over the years, this commemoration for supporting inclusiveness and diversity in the workplace is especially meaningful to the Racanellis.
Looking to the Future
While there are many other anecdotes that display care for both people and projects, a recurring theme is clearly evident—this family-owned business knows how to make a positive impact.
As the third generation looks to the future, the plan is to continue expanding the company’s services, portfolio of projects and client base. “Every day, we want to get better at what we do so the company and the size of our projects can continue to grow,” Rich says. Carmine agrees, adding, “This includes growing the real estate development side of the business.”
Rich continues, “There’s a very good likelihood that a fourth generation led by Matthew, Martin C. and Richard II will take Racanelli Construction to a whole new level.” This prospect seems entirely plausible, given the company’s past achievements and idealistic slogan: “Our reputation continues to build.”