Restoring it Right
Hamilton-Pacific Inc. is California’s go-to company for tough concrete repair challenges
When it comes to construction, Chris Hamilton is a jack-of-all-trades. He began working construction projects in high school and started his career as a roofer. Experience in carpentry and concrete construction later followed.
Today, he’s using his 30-plus years in construction leading Hamilton-Pacific Inc., an award-winning general, engineering and specialty contractor that provides concrete restoration, waterproofing and tenant improvements throughout California.
Chris founded Hamilton-Pacific in 2007 after owning a construction company specializing in both commercial and residential work. His list of construction licenses is long and varied—with trade licenses including General Engineering A and B licenses, a C-8 Concrete Contractor license and five more specialty licenses from the California Contractors State License Board. “Different cities require different licenses, so I decided to get them all,” explains Chris, whose firm is among a small percentage of companies licensed in so many specialties.
Chris started Hamilton-Pacific with a handful of people working on hotel renovations and high-rise restorations. “Every time we got more work, we hired more people,” he says. Today, Hamilton-Pacific has 20 full-time and 10 part-time employees, with offices in Carlsbad and Sacramento. Three project managers oversee work in the field that ranges from concrete restoration on buildings, to roads and highways, to hotel renovations.
Concrete Restoration Experts
The firm’s niche is concrete restoration, including epoxy injection, carbon-fiber reinforcing, coatings, architectural and structural repairs and waterproofing. “Many general contractors offer concrete restoration, but they often don’t have the expertise and techniques for applying highly specialized products,” Chris says. “We hold manufacturer certifications for most concrete repair materials.”
High-rise building restoration has been a core Hamilton-Pacific service. “Working on tall buildings requires a keen understanding of the extreme environmental conditions that building systems must withstand on a daily basis,” Chris says. “This, combined with the knowledge of how to safely access and perform specialty repair work in very tall buildings, is what sets us apart from most restoration and repair contractors.”
Because of the firm’s expertise and experience, business has grown mainly by word-of-mouth. “Structural engineering firms familiar with repairing concrete will refer us for jobs, and we’re on the top of the list for concrete repair for many cities in California,” Chris says. The Blue Book® is also a great resource for finding subcontractors and getting the firm’s name out. “That’s the only advertising I do, and a lot of our work comes from The Blue Book,” he notes.
Whether accessing a job from a swing-stage, scaffolding or bosun’s chair, Hamilton-Pacific’s skilled workers are trained to safely work at heights. “We continually send our employees to safety training seminars,” Chris says. “Most of our employees are certified through Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety classes and are required to have the 10-hour OSHA training. We also have all employees trained on man-lift equipment for work above ground.”
Every week, the company holds tailgate safety meetings to remind employees of safe work habits. That’s because Chris considers his employees to be his No. 1 asset. “We’re a family-oriented company. We want our employees to go home safe and happy,” he says. “As an employer, I’m committed to treating them with respect and dignity.” That includes providing employees with medical and dental benefits and covering half the cost.
Hamilton-Pacific has come to the rescue to save some important structures in the San Diego area. When a 7.2-magnitude earthquake near Mexicali significantly damaged the historic U.S. Grant Hotel in 2010, the company refurbished the exterior of the building using high-tech epoxy injection. When the dolphin rescue tank at SeaWorld in San Diego needed emergency repairs, Hamilton-Pacific applied high-strength concrete and specialized eco-friendly coatings to get the rescue tank back in operation ahead of schedule.
The company’s hospitality construction team specializes in hotel renovations, from remodels to exterior renovations, including new windows, paint and coatings. For more than 20 years, the company has been involved in projects at the famous Hotel del Coronado and recently finished a complete exterior and partial interior remodel for Loews Coronado Bay Resort. The $2 million restoration project included a new color scheme, along with repairs and upgrades.
“Structural engineering firms familiar with repairing concrete will refer us for jobs, and we’re on the top of the list for concrete repair for many cities in California.” Chris Hamilton, Founder and CEO, Hamilton-Pacific Inc.
Hamilton-Pacific also has a multimillion-dollar contract with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to repair or replace bridge joints and make concrete repairs on roadways and bridges on 200 miles of highway stretching from Oceanside, California, to Yuma, Arizona. “We’re on call for emergency service work at any time,” says Rick Ruby, Vice President of Operations, who oversees Caltrans work. “We shut down the highway to repair the concrete, and it all happened in the middle of the night for as little disruption to traffic as possible,” he says. The company also has a maintenance service contract with Caltrans to make repairs and tenant improvements at the agency’s offices and parks.
At The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, Hamilton-Pacific is using a cutting-edge dry ice blasting process to restore the exterior of the historic building. Dry ice blasting eliminates airborne particles and the mess created by traditional methods, such as sand or silica blasting.
“The company is committed to be dustless,” Chris says. “Air quality is a big thing in our industry. We don’t want to just protect our guys, but also the public as well. We’ve made a huge investment in equipment to limit the dust in our operations.”
In Northern California, the company recently completed ceiling and structure repairs at the Blue Diamond almond factory in Sacramento, where a fire in a roasting room caused extensive concrete damage. “We worked around the clock for five weeks straight,” notes Tim Scholl, General Manager, Sacramento office. “It was the beginning of almond season, and they needed to have their roasters fired up by mid-September.”
Hamilton-Pacific’s Sacramento office does ongoing structural repair work for SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) and recently completed underground concrete vaults for AT&T that will house the fiber optic network for servicing a new high-speed rail system.
Tim says the company’s ability to find solutions to challenging problems and its willingness to do what it takes to get the job done results in repeat customers and new customer referrals. “When people call us in a bind, we have an answer to help them to get back up and running. We have very qualified journeymen providing quality work. We seldom get a callback for rework; when we finish the job, it’s finished,” he says.
Earthquakes, Water Damage & More
In addition to concrete repair and hospitality construction, Hamilton-Pacific also has a division that offers waterproofing and water-intrusion solutions for building owners and property managers. The company sets up yearly maintenance programs, conducting inspections and making repairs when needed. “Weather can destroy your investment. We provide waterproofing, coatings and sealing to preserve buildings and ensure the beauty of a structure,” Chris says.
“We also do earthquake retrofits, strengthening concrete in a building after an earthquake, as well as a lot of pre-earthquake repairs to strengthen buildings and bridges to keep them up to date with safety standards,” Chris notes. After a recent earthquake shook buildings in downtown San Diego, Hamilton-Pacific was called in to provide lobby renovations and preservation at the historic Spreckels Theatre. Built in 1912, the theater is in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Giving back to the community is important to Chris, both on a personal and professional level. Hamilton-Pacific is a proud sponsor of the La Costa Youth Organization baseball and softball programs, where his children and neighbors play.
He also sponsors the University of California San Diego Concrete Canoe team, which competes in the National Concrete Canoe Competition hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The competition challenges students to design and build a 20-foot-long, fully functional canoe out of concrete.
Hamilton-Pacific hosts local golf tournaments for the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI), with proceeds going to charitable organizations, such as the Wounded Warrior Project or Habitat for Humanity. ICRI is an association of contractors, engineers, consultants, and manufacturers who work together to improve the understanding of and training within the concrete repair industry.
Chris serves on the board of directors for ICRI’s Southern California chapter and is active in its mission to educate contractors, building managers, engineers, architects and state officials on the newest techniques and materials for concrete construction. “We have made a commitment to finding, understanding and providing innovative products and technologies to help meet the challenges of today’s construction marketplace,” he says. “Concrete construction is a specialty, and it’s important that it’s done right.”