Photos: Justin Manafort

In the demolition industry, it is not uncommon to have a second- or even third-generation family-run company. It is not often that you run into a company with the rich history of Manafort Bros., however. Formed in 1919 as New Britain House Wrecking Co., Manafort Bros., based in Plainville, Connecticut, now has the fourth generation of Manaforts working for the company and is one of the oldest, largest, most profitable and versatile contractors in the Northeast.

Founder James Manafort was an Italian immigrant who came to Connecticut in the early part of the 20th century. When he started the business nearly 100 years ago, he bought up old houses and tore them apart board by board, salvaging and recycling the lumber.

James Manafort’s four sons, Anthony, Frank, John and Paul, grew up working in the business. The sons all served in the armed forces during World War II, and when they returned in 1946, they renamed the company Manafort Bros.

“The company quickly became one of the leading demolition firms in Connecticut. As Manafort Bros. continued to develop and grow, the third generation of Manaforts lived and learned the construction business,” says Jon Manafort, executive vice president of Manafort Bros., who along with James A. Manafort Sr. and Frank Manafort, made up the third generation in the business.

They took leadership positions in the company in the 1960s. “We further expanded the company’s capabilities into excavation, site work, concrete, construction and waste removal.”

Now a fourth generation, Jim Jr., David, Jason and Justin Manafort, are heavily involved in the company, says Jon. “They, like the previous generations, have taken Manafort Bros. to new levels of success by adding new areas of specialization and expanding the company’s depth in its more established specialties.”

Jon says his grandfather’s “work ethic and dedication set the standard that remains today.” And, he adds, as the company grew, “so did the respect and trust Manafort Bros. earned from its clients.”

MUCH TO OFFER

Manafort Bros. has offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The company’s main divisions include site work, concrete, demolition, remediation and heavy highway and Department of Transportation (DOT) improvements. Within those divisions, the types of projects are vast and include demolition, nuclear decommissioning, asbestos abatement, lead abatement, site remediation, contaminated water management, grading, excavation, site clearance, sheeting and shoring, rock drilling and blasting, cast-in-place concrete, precast concrete installation, heavy highway improvements, DOT rehabilitation, bridge rehabilitation, pipe work, utilities installation, paving, sidewalks and curbing, landscaping and planting, waste removal and recycling.

Jon says, “Within our projects, we make every effort to recycle as much as possible. Manafort Bros. has participated on a magnitude of LEED- (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-) accredited projects and has successfully met or exceeded all project LEED goals.”

Manafort Bros. makes a continued effort to recycle as much material as possible on every project, according to Jon. “We have made significant efforts in our demolition division to recycle all metal, wooden structural beams, drywall, electrical components, concrete, brick and other miscellaneous recyclable materials,” he says.

Manafort Bros. has projects ongoing in surrounding states and as far west as Illinois. To handle all that work, the company employs as many as 1,000 workers during peak construction season and operates a variety of equipment from cranes to excavators and loaders to bulldozers, trucks and trailers. About 60 percent of the company’s annual business is publicly funded projects.

GOING NUCLEAR

Manafort Bros. has been a pioneer in the nuclear decommissioning industry in recent years. The company successfully has decommissioned and demolished the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Plant in Wiscasset, Maine, and the Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Plant in Haddam Neck, Connecticut. The firm is in the process of decommissioning the Zion Solutions Power Plant in Zion, Illinois. Jon says upon completion, Manafort Bros. will be the first company to successfully decommission three nuclear power plants.

In addition to the nuclear decommissioning project, Manafort Bros. has been involved in a host of other high profile projects, including two major casinos, an aeronautical facility, a pharmaceutical company and a Navy base in Connecticut. The company also has been involved with various highway improvement projects and electrical switch yard improvements throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Manafort Bros. has been able to withstand ups and downs in the economy over the decades. “As a contractor and service provider, our firm will travel with the demand of the work,” says Jon. “Because we have a multifaceted company providing a wide variety of services, we can endure the changes in the economy and meet the demands of the requested construction need within our work environment.”

EVOLVING AND CHANGING

Jon calls the demolition industry an “ever-changing industry.” He says the value of and need to recycle continues to increase on an annual basis.

“In turn,” he says, “the equipment utilized for demolition continues to become more advanced and allows for a safer work environment and the ability to segregate and recycle additional waste streams.”

Another area that continues to evolve, according to Jon, is proper protection for workers. “This year alone the new standards for silica are being put into place, and each contractor must ensure they are maintaining compliance with the proper protection and monitoring.”

Regulatory compliance is another area that Manafort Bros. keeps its pulse on. Jon says, “As these changes are put into place, our firm evaluates the new change and modifies our standard operating procedures to accommodate the regulatory change.”

While many aspects of the industry are ever-changing, at Manafort Bros., one thing remains constant and that is the family. “Our philosophy has always been to have a Manafort involved in all aspects of the operation,” Jon says.

The company’s future plans are to continue in the lines of business it has been successful in and continue to look for innovations, according to Jon.

“Since 1919 one thing has remained the same—our dedication to innovation, excellence, quality, safety and customer service,” states the company’s website (www.manafortbrothers.com).

The author is editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be reached at ksmith@gie.net.