CJ Hughes Construction Company Inc.
CJ Hughes founded CJ Hughes Drilling in 1946, which later evolved to become CJ Hughes Construction Company Inc. (CJH). Over the years, the business has grown and diversified greatly and now performs a number of renovation and new commercial construction projects, as well as pipeline work for municipalities and the energy industry. In 2008, Energy Services of America (ESA) purchased CJH, offering strong financial support, as well as additional contact with potential clients.
Doug Reynolds, current CEO of CJH, has been involved with the business for several years. “I was previously on the board through a family investment,” Doug notes. “When management left last summer, I took on this role.” With a background in financing and law, Doug confidentially dove head-first into his leadership role in December 2012.
“Our niche is pipeline construction focused on the energy market,” Doug elaborates. “We also do water and sewer for municipal utility projects. What sets us apart from other contractors is that we have the resources and expertise to be highest quality provider in our market. We don’t always have the lowest price, but if customers are looking for something done right and done safely, we get the first chance at those projects.”
A Diverse Portfolio
The company is based in Huntington, W.V., but has a rapidly growing geographic footprint. “We have done projects as far north as Michigan and New York and we go down to Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama,” says Doug. “Our main office is in Huntington, but we have smaller yards and facilities closer to our large projects.”
CJH has built a strong client base, working with local governments and major energy companies all over the country. The team has worked with Marathon Oil, the Williams Companies and Energy Transfer, among other large entities.
For municipality work, the crew has been involved in a number of major utility projects in the region. The company’s recent work includes an $8 million sewer line project; West Virginia’s largest in several years. The crew worked to replace and rehabilitate over 60,000 feet of sewer piping and 21 sewer lift stations. The team has been busy on the homefront, with ground and utility work for a number of municipalities.
Most of the team’s energy work involves multiple-mile pipeline of 10- or 24-inch pipe. The company is currently working on several $10 million to $15 million projects in different states.
“We have a $10 million project in the Ohio River Valley right now,” Doug elaborates. “That’s around our headquarters, where the company started. We do a lot of work in the lower market and we have a dominant share in the work within a 75-mile radius of Huntington.”
A Changing Market
According to Doug, pipeline expansions and new pipeline work are CJH’s major revenue sources right now. “There is a lot of competition around the Columbus area,” he elaborates. “We went through a terrible stretch between 2009 and 2012. We had a really tough time and had to redesign our business model. We focused on getting back to the basics and figuring out how to be price-competitive. We are definitely seeing improvement. We’re public and making more money, so we are having much better results.”
Doug goes on to note that the company’s current goal is to increase revenue and increase margins. “In the last year, to focus on margins and focus on business, we have been doing things that might not have made as much sense a few years ago,” he continues. “During the recession we were going to bid on everything. We are now trying to have more discipline on bidding. The best projects for us are within a range of $1.5 million to $10 million. We are seeing a lot of growth ahead. There is a lot of expansion going on in the industry with many new pipelines being built.”
As the economy turns around, CJH is back to focusing on the most important part of the business: relationships. While external ties to subcontractors, suppliers and clients keep revenue flowing, Doug notes that the company’s greatest asset is its people.
“Pipelining is something that people work incredibly hard at,” he explains. “It’s a tough job and we compensate our employees well to do it. The folks that work here work incredibly hard and you get a sense of pride seeing that work done. Most projects take longer to get permits, get clearings, but as far as getting pipe in ground, it is only 30 to 60 days. We put more time into preparations and clean up. Our crew is sometimes subject to some pretty harsh weather.”
The reliable, safe and hardworking team will continue to drive CJH forward. With revenue on the rise and a number of large, complex projects down the line, the business is back in growth mode. CJ Hughes Construction Company Inc. will continue to provide leading pipeline construction services across the eastern United States, building relationships along the way.