Pipeline – Winter Edition

Executive Message

It is hard to believe but 2023 has rapidly come to an end and we now march onward and into 2024.

As we say goodbye to 2023, I must also acknowledge the completion of J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc.’s incredible Century of Service on its 100th anniversary year. It is with much gratitude that all of us from the Creamer team thank the Creamer Family for their unwavering commitment, loyalty, and friendship with the many generations of employees over the past century. 

As we conclude this transformative 100th anniversary year, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the JFC team… for your spirit, your work ethic, and your commitment to our core values, the industry and all our clients. I thank all our customers for entrusting JFC with your construction needs. We are extremely fortunate to have been able to continuously work for so many of you for much of the past century and we look forward to creating many more life-long customer relationships as we take on the next century.

The construction industry, like many others, navigated uncertainties, supply chain disruptions, and economic shifts over the past few years. Despite these arduous hurdles, our shared dedication to excellence has been unwavering. Together, we’ve not only weathered the storm, but we have emerged stronger and more agile than ever.

Looking ahead to the coming year, I’m excited about the opportunities that lie before us. The intersection of innovation, infrastructure, and environmental sustainability presents a unique landscape for growth and JFC is positioned right in the middle of this intersection.

JFC is committed to innovation with our newly formed Innovation Team. This team is scouring the world for innovative tools, equipment, products, and processes to better serve our clients while also making our workforce and fleet safer and more effective.

The Infrastructure Improvement & Jobs Act (IIJA) has provided record amounts of funding for our nation’s infrastructure improvement. As these funds are allocated to states and projects, JFC is prepared and eager to perform the needed work on our highways, bridges, tunnels, and ports. With New Jersey’s population and aged infrastructure, the opportunities and workload will be enormous.

Renewable energy and water quality initiatives are at the forefront of our focus. Although New Jersey suffered a set-back with the dissolution of its first off-shore wind project, there is still a strong commitment to offshore power. JFC is well positioned to be a part of this enormous effort and is ready to construct NJ’s green energy electric grid. JFC is also a major solution provider for clean drinking water. We continue to build new PFOS/PFAS “forever chemical” treatment plants with various designs and  technologies, replace lead services, and many other water quality projects on the water distribution systems in our communities.

As the world gravitates towards cleaner, greener solutions, JFC is poised to lead in sustainable construction practices. Our commitment to incorporating renewable energy sources aligns not only with industry trends but with our responsibility to the planet. The year ahead is brimming with potential. Together, our JFC team will explore new horizons, capitalize on emerging technologies, and shape a future where our projects stand as beacons of quality, progress, and sustainability. I am certainly confident that the JFC team will continue to achieve extraordinary milestones and create a remarkable Second Century of Service.

I hope you all had a restful, peaceful, and joyous holiday season with family and friends. I look forward to working together on all the opportunities that await us in the coming New Year.

– Andrew Wood, CFO Specialty Segment API Group, CFO J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc.

Community Outreach

At J Fletcher Creamer & Son commitment to family and philanthropy have always been two driving forces in everything we do. This summer Creamer employees from across the mid-Atlantic region and their families came together in Warren, New Jersey to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary. President Marty Downs kicked off the festivities – which included carnival rides, games of chance, face painting, a plethora of food options, and everyone’s favorite activity – making donations for a chance to dunk an executive in the dunk tank. The dunk tank and the picnic raised almost $1,500 for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s (and who knows what the total could have been if our VP of Operations Rick DeNicola took a few more shifts in the “wet” seat).

Creamer employees have been taking part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for 15 years. Michele Platz, Creamer’s Senior Payroll Associate, has led this effort for Creamer and this year Michele’s team – Team Hope – placed 3rd in the Bergen Passaic region by raising $8,730! “Our success raising funds for this event is the result of the generosity of everyone, you showed empathy and support which is truly appreciated” said Platz. Creamer looks forward to supporting this important cause for years to come.

J Fletcher Creamer & Son takes pride in supporting local organizations close to the hearts of its employees, from sponsoring a high school marching band to backing Superintendent Andy Abate’s daughter and her team in the Softball World Series, where they placed 3rd! This involvement goes beyond financial contributions, with employees serving on boards for these organizations, reinforcing a sense of community and shared purpose. In addition to these events, Creamer fosters a sense of community through monthly employee lunches. These gatherings provide an opportunity for employees to take a break from the daily grind, enjoy diverse culinary experiences from food trucks and vendors, and build connections with colleagues.

“I truly appreciate all of the effort that goes into making these lunches a big success,” said Chris Schubert, Creamer’s Manager of Talent and Retention. This sentiment reflects the company’s commitment to acknowledge the hard work of its team while creating spaces for genuine connections.

As J Fletcher Creamer & Son looks towards 2024, employees are encouraged to share their event ideas with Chris Schubert and Erin Smith. The events highlighted above not only showcase the company’s dedication but also embody the essence of a workplace that values its employees as an extended family.

Bridging Bergen County: The Old Tappan Road Bridge Replacement Project

In the heart of Bergen County, a significant infrastructure project was undertaken to replace the aging Old Tappan Road Bridge. This critical span transverses the Hackensack River and connects River Vale with Old Tappan. Senior Project Manager Nelson Sanchez and his Creamer crew did more than simply replace the bridge; this endeavor evolved into an integration of modernization and community involvement. The existing bridge was demolished to make way for a 27-inch-thick prestressed concrete spread box beam single span super structure. This design, supported by cast-in-place reinforced concrete abutments founded on deep H-pile foundations, ensures the bridge’s strength and durability.

Like most projects, Sanchez and his team found several changed conditions in the field which meant some design modifications would need to be implemented. On this job, the unforeseen conditions required that the cofferdams be reimagined. “What was initially designed as a three-sided cantilever, was later adjusted to a four-sided structure to address construction needs,” said Sanchez. Collaboration between Bergen County and the construction team was essential in over coming this hurdle and ensuring the project’s success.

The Old Tappan Road bridge replacement was necessary to bring the span into compliance with NJ DOT’s current design standards. This meant drainage improvements would also need to be incorporated into the project. This need was made all the clearer when a storm came through the area and shut down the jobsite for several days in February after the Hackensack River rose 9 feet and flooded the work area. Sanchez and crew were prepared for the storm and thankfully no equipment or materials were damaged.

Trenchless Solutions

There’s no need to rip up an entire street when a few simple holes will do.

That’s the approach that Creamer has been using for over fifty years when it comes to rehabilitating a variety of underground pipes. Creamer is one of the few companies in the United States that specializes in trenchless pipeline rehabilitation, which is a method that allows for the continued use of an underground pipe without having to perform major excavation and expensive replacement.

So, when a water line reaches the end of it’s useful life on Main Street causing water quality issues, leaks or even catastrophic breaks, rather than dig up the entire thoroughfare, access pits are made on either side of the pipeline to allow the interior of the pipeline to be reinforced to last another 50-plus years. There are two main methods Creamer utilizes in such a process – a Primus Line System, a flexible fabric reinforced pipe (FFRP), or spray on a Warren Environmental epoxy coating (SIPP – spray in place pipe) which will seal the pipe on the inside and structurally enhance it.

Creamer used both methods last year while working on a pair of jobs in New England. Primus Line was used to repair a damaged sewer force main in Simsbury, Conn., which is just northwest of Hartford. Creamer installed 930 feet of six-inch Primus Line in September on an asbestos (AC) pipe that was originally installed in 1968.

That job came on the heels of an epoxy application to a water line in Everett, Mass., which took place from the beginning of July through the end of August. Four thousand feet of 10-inch pipe and 700 feet of 12-inch pipe were coated. The difference between the two procedures is that when using the epoxy method, customer services can be still tapped off the line. A Primus Line system provides a complete seal preventing any smaller lines to be engaged.

Cody Cammarata was the Project Manager for both jobs and explains that FFRP and SIPP trenchless rehabilitation is simply the next generation of water and wastewater trenchless technology, which Creamer has been using since the 1970s when they lined pipelines with cement.

“We are one of the few contractors in the Northeast that are licensed and have the equipment to install these types of liners,” Cammarata said. “We’ve been using cement lining technology since the 70s, so we have always had an interest in trenchless repair. It’s a very specialized skill. If you don’t have the right people, you can cause more harm than good.”

“For these jobs, specifically, the engineers working for the town or client reached out to our two partners, Warren and Primus Line. Both companies have inhouse engineers that evaluate the situation to make sure it’s the right application.  Creamer works with the owner to present multiple options depending on the situation along with pricing for the owner to make an educated decision.  None of the technologies are a solution for every problem. It’s a case-by-case basis and we help the clients make the decision and install the solution.”

The decision that Creamer helped the Simsbury DPW make was to install Primus Line in a damaged pipe outside a pump station. A series of breaks occurred in the line over the course of several years and excavating the pipe to replace it was not an option. Primus Line was a perfect solution to save time and money while providing a new line for the owner. 

The Everett job, meanwhile, also required the pipe to be cleaned out and a bypass pipe to be installed on the street above the existing watermain. The general contractor oversaw the access pits and bypass in this  situation.

Electrifying Construction Projects in Englewood and Englewood Cliffs

In Englewood and Englewood Cliffs two construction projects are set to transform the local infrastructure and bolster the region’s electrical grid. These projects, known as the 69kV Cliffs Substation Underground Outlets, show a commitment to  modernization, reliability, and seamless community integration. The projects involve the installation of a 69kV electric cable network within six-inch conduits, creating the foundation for a more resilient and efficient power grid. Creamer crews are working on two contracts (1a & 2) concurrently. Work on the job began in August of this year and will be completed in February of 2024.

Phase 1a of the project starts at a substation in the Hudson Terrace neighborhood of Englewood Cliffs. J. Fletcher Creamer has also been awarded a contract to rebuild and modernize the existing sub station to accommodate the new 69kV cable, but work hasn’t started yet. Project superintendent Joseph Henriques and his crews installed duct bank north up Hudson Terrace and then continued west on East Palisades Avenue to its intersection with Floyd Street. The crews installed approximately 3,800’ of duct and installed 12 precast manholes. To install the manholes, Henriques and his team had to use a PC400 excavator with a hammer attachment to dig through almost 10’ of solid rock. When the crew was not challenged with rock removal, Henriques said his crew had other obstacles to overcome; he “wished he had X-ray vision” on this job because of all the existing utility lines along the route, both marked and unmarked utility. The crew took pride in keeping our existing infrastructure operable throughout this project. During the work crews also had to ensure bicycle lanes were accessible for cyclists utilizing Hudson Terrace to reach the Palisades Interstate Park. 

Phase 2 of the job is in a residential neighborhood of Englewood. The area has several schools and synagogues, and work has been limited to weekdays to accommodate residents. Prior to starting and during construction, there was coordination with the schools and synagogues to ensure the work did not interfere with any events or services. This phase started at the intersection of East Palisades Avenue and South Woodmont Street. From there crews installed the conduit for the 69kV line south down Woodmont St. and turned west onto East Linden Avenue. Work in this section of the contract included 6,700’ of duct bank and the installation of 18 precast manholes and 4 cast in place manholes. At the intersection of Linden Avenue and Broad Avenue the circuit transitions to an overhead line and continues to the project limit at Grand Avenue.

Despite the challenges, these projects demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to safety and energy resilience. Joseph and his team could not have been more complementary of their partners on this project, and they look forward to starting the substation upgrades. The result will be a more robust electrical grid that connects communities and ensures reliable power for years to come.

Final Thoughts

After the close of yet another remarkable year, we would like to take a moment to express our deepest gratitude to each and every one of our leaders, for their unwavering support, dedication, and efforts.  It has been a year filled with challenges and triumphs, and we are incredibly thankful for the collaborative spirit that defines our Creamer family.

We are also thankful to our clients, with whom we continue to further successful partnerships year after year.  Together, we have tackled the complexities of diverse projects, showcasing our collective expertise and passion for innovation.

We recognize that a key ingredient to long-lasting partnerships is mutual success and it’s our belief this begins with alignment between company cultures. Cultures that are rooted with our leaders’ passion, purpose, and tireless efforts to ensure the well-being of our communities as it relates to their infrastructure dependencies. 

Looking forward, we eagerly anticipate the multitude of opportunities to positively impact our communities that await us; pioneering developments in renewable energy that will redefine the way we power our daily life, addressing environmental concerns, such as the removal of forever chemicals from our drinking water, and the array of monumental regional transportation initiatives that will reshape our commuting and travel experiences are just a few. It is opportunities such as these that will ensure our journey continues to be one of growth and forward momentum. 

As we reflect on the milestones of the past and prepare for the opportunities of the future, let us embrace the new year with optimism, enthusiasm, and a shared vision for continued success. Together, we will not only overcome challenges but also set new benchmarks in our industry.

Thank you once again for your exceptional contributions. We look forward to achieving greater heights together and wish you and your loved ones a prosperous New Year.

– Martin Downs Jr., P.E.,  President