Exceed, Excel, Stay Safe
A long history of quality and service leads CIC Construction Group to new shores
When Gustavo Hermida and Fred Gallo founded the company that would become CIC Construction Group in Puerto Rico in 1983, they had big dreams; but they didn’t know their newborn company would succeed as it has, growing into an island giant now finding its footing on continental shores.
What began as a general contracting company working almost exclusively in the pharmaceutical industry started to expand as Gustavo and Fred saw opportunities for growth in other sectors of Puerto Rico’s burgeoning economy.
“Our main focus in the beginning was to provide excellent service as general contractors to the pharmaceutical industry,” Gustavo says. “We grew our business through the trust of our clients, making sure people understood our vision was to create an inspiring, first-class construction company that would deliver excellence beyond expectations. In the initial years, we concentrated on the industrial and manufacturing sectors. We knew that in order to grow we needed to diversify; so in the early ‘90s we moved into other sectors, such as hospitality, commercial, institutional, housing, warehousing and health care.”
Originally named Caribbean Industrial Construction, by the dawn of the 21st century the company was outgrowing its roots. Gustavo and Fred realized their success in building a name in industrial manufacturing construction had also created a perception in many of their current and prospective customers that industrial manufacturing was the only sector of their business. In the early 2000s, they chose to rebrand as CIC Construction Group (CIC Construction), opening new doors for their company.
“When we decided to move the company to other sectors to continue growing, many of our clients still saw us as an industrial manufacturing contractor only,” Gustavo says. “That’s when we decided to change the company’s name, while never forgetting the service we provide to the pharmaceutical industry. Right now, we’re one of the largest general contractors in Puerto Rico, providing general contracting service to all sectors.”
In 2016, CIC Construction made the leap to the mainland, establishing new offices in Raleigh, North Carolina. The company further expanded in August 2019 with offices in Orlando, Florida.
Serving the Customer
From its origins in the industrial manufacturing sector, CIC Construction’s portfolio of services swelled to include all aspects of general contracting, pre-construction and design-build in civil, structural and architectural work to meet clients’ needs. The company also offers a suite of self-performed trade work in concrete, demolition, metal framing, drywall, flooring installation and painting, along with structural steel manufacturing and installation.
“All of our services work in tandem with one another,” says Michael Pabon, Vice President of Construction Operations. “We provide all of them at the same time to our clients. Many times, we’ll start a project and add services as we go to better serve the client.”
As CIC Construction has grown and expanded, it has also streamlined to maintain efficiency.
“As of now, we have 650 employees across all three of our locations,” says Jose Torrens, Vice President of Business Operations. “In 2006, our company was doing $106 million in gross revenue and we had up to 1,450 employees. We were self-performing more work than we’re doing right now.”
The fiscal year for CIC Construction runs from May 1 to April 30. In the fiscal year ending in 2019, the company had $165 million in gross revenue. For the year that ended in April 2020, the company suffered slightly from the onset of COVID-19, ending the year with gross revenue of $122 million, $15 million below projections.
Though the two continental United States offices of CIC Construction have been opened in fairly short order, the company has no current concrete plans for branching out any further.
“Right now, we’re concentrating all our efforts on where we are,” Gustavo says. “We have plenty of room to grow in North Carolina and Florida, and we’ve been growing in Puerto Rico for a long time. Our plans for now are to continue growing those two new offices, then perhaps add more offices later in the southeast of the United States.”
History…and Future…of Success
CIC Construction’s Puerto Rico growth is indisputable. In recent years, the company has tackled and completed—on time, on budget and with an excellent safety record—a string of multimillion-dollar projects across the island. When Hurricane Maria washed ashore in a tempest of destruction in September 2017, the worst natural disaster in Puerto Rico’s history, CIC Construction was there to help pick up the pieces.
CIC Construction has accomplished work across a wide range of industries, including commercial, medical devices, biotechnology, warehousing/distribution, energy, health care and hospitality. Two of the largest ongoing projects in the CIC Construction portfolio include the Four Seasons Cayo Largo hotel on the east coast of Puerto Rico, a $165 million project due to be completed in 2022. The second-largest is a new $75 million, 456,000-square-foot warehouse and office facility for Econo, the largest grocery store chain on the island, scheduled for completion by the end of this year.
In its continental United States offices, CIC Construction has done work in North Carolina for Merck, Novo Nordisk, Procter & Gamble and other pharmaceutical manufacturing clients. In its newest office in Florida, CIC Construction has handled projects in Orange County and has established a business relationship with Tavistock Development Company in Orlando’s Lake Nona area, and is pre-qualified for work with Walt Disney World, Valencia College, Moffitt Cancer Center, Duke Energy Corporation and Skanska among others. The fledgling Orlando office has been the biggest beneficiary of CIC Construction’s relationship with The Blue Book Network, particularly in finding leads in the bidding process.
“We grew our business through the trust of our clients, making sure people understood our vision was to create an inspiring, first-class construction company that would deliver excellence beyond expectations.” Gustavo Hermida, President, CIC Construction Group
Committed to Community
Success in the construction industry isn’t easy. To build a company with the breadth and history of accomplishment as CIC Construction is harder still. It’s a point of pride to Gustavo and the rest of his team that the company has never missed a completion date; but success is about more than timeliness.
“From the beginning, our goal has always been to provide excellence,” Gustavo says. “We want to make sure our employees understand that vision. We have employees now that are the third generation of their families to work for us. People come in and they don’t want to leave because we treat our employees as family. We visit the offices, the sites, we know them and their families. At the same time, we want our employees to be the best.”
“We make sure we find the best, so often our biggest challenge is finding the right people to help us grow,” Michael agrees. “We’re always looking for good people to bring into the family at CIC.”
Community outreach is one way that CIC Construction is working to make sure it can find good people. The company sponsors grants to engineering students in the communities where it is located, helping young people with the ambition to learn make the most of their opportunity to do so. Of course, this is only part of the company’s long history of community involvement.
After Hurricane Maria, CIC Construction gathered necessary supplies, from food, water and clothing to plywood and construction materials, and brought them to Puerto Rico. After making sure its employees were taken care of, the company provided much-needed supplies to the communities in which it was working. The leadership put the company’s construction capabilities to work building shelters for those left homeless by the storm.
“We want to help the communities around our offices and projects,” Jose says. “Whether it’s shelters for storm victims in Puerto Rico or a playground at a school near our offices in North Carolina. No matter where we are located, we always look for opportunities around that community to help.”
The construction business has changed in the 37 years that have passed since Gustavo and Fred first opened the doors to CIC Construction; but the philosophy that has guided the company through its decades of growth and success remains the same—a pledge to exceed the customer’s expectations, a dedication to excellence and a commitment to safety.
“Our reputation, our quality, our performance and our safety record are vital,” Gustavo says. “We have to have the best people. We have to manage them, teach them, show them the way we want them to work. That’s always been our philosophy. Our reputation was and continues to be founded on the integrity of our employees.”