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Combined forces

When the leaders at Pike Co. Inc. realized one of its competitors was winning more jobs in niche areas, the management took action.

Nearly two years ago, Pike merged with Lecesse Construction Services LLC. Together, they now are known as the Pike Cos.

“We figured if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” said Thomas Judson Jr., Pike’s chairman and CEO and a 2009 Rochester Business Hall of Fame inductee.

The deal brought together two of the area’s largest commercial building firms. Together, they project sales of $289 million in 2014 and employ 589 workers, including 319 local staffers. In 2012, before the merger, Pike had 425 employees and Lecesse had 90 workers.

The firms kept both their names and workforces but share some services, particularly in areas of training and human resources. The merger also created opportunities for shared services and gives customers enhanced service and capabilities, officials said.

The merger has driven recent growth at Pike, as well as organic growth, said Rufus Judson, Thomas Judson’s son and Pike’s president and chief operating officer. The deal added to the firm’s health care construction expertise and expanded its service area into the Midwest and Southeast.

Andrew Hislop, Lecesse president and CEO, noted new projects as well as a strong backlog as a result of the merger. It provided Lecesse with increased project capabilities and opened new markets, Hislop added. He also spoke of both firms’ similar cultures and values.

As a result of the merger, the companies landed two projects this year—senior housing projects on Long Island and in New Jersey—that total roughly $150 million of work. “The strategy behind the merger is showing itself,” Hislop said.

Founded in 1873, Pike has experience in health care, educational, manufacturing technology, power, public works, transportation and commercial facilities.

Thomas Judson Jr.’s great-grandfather started John B. Pike & Son Inc. doing custom millwork for the interior of fancy homes, including that of early Eastman Kodak Co. president Henry Alvah Strong at 293 East Ave. and the home of Jell-O creator Peter Cooper in LeRoy.

It was during the Genesee Hospital project nearly a century ago when the company expanded into general contracting. Judson’s grandfather brought masonry and other construction components into the firm.

In the 1940s, the firm worked on the Gleason Corp. facility and what is now the Bausch & Lomb Inc. facilities on Goodman Street. In the 1960s, it worked on Midtown Plaza and Finger Lakes Race Track.

In 1975, at age 30, Judson became president of the company.

Its recent local projects have included the Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority transit center, the Seneca Building downtown for Windsteam Corp. and the Seneca Art and Cultural Center at Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor.

Pike now is seeing a bigger increase in industrial construction projects outside the Rochester area, Rufus Judson said. For example, the firm has had some 50 workers at Global Foundries Inc.’s computer chip manufacturing plant in Malta, Saratoga County, for the past couple of years.

Lecesse has been working to increase its presence in the senior housing market throughout the country and has gained a national reputation, Hislop said.

In addition to senior housing and health care facilities, Lecesse specializes in multifamily housing campuses, higher education campuses and cultural centers locally and outside the area.

It has been in business since 1952 and has offices in Rochester and Florida. Its local projects include Erie Station Village, an apartment and townhouse community in Henrietta, and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester.

Hislop expects the firm to continue to do well in Florida, as well as in northern New Jersey and the Hudson Valley. He is bullish on local projects as well.

The Judsons are anticipating growth in private-sector projects upstate, particularly those involving public-private partnerships.

The biggest challenge ahead is finding—and keeping—qualified employees, they said. Both firms are hiring for various positions.

Thomas Judson Jr. compares running the business to a team sport.

“You want to have the best players,” he said.

Construction services firm
2014 ranking: 2
Founded: 1873
Top executive: Thomas Judson Jr., chairman and CEO
Location: Rochester
Employees: 589
Website: www.pikeco.com

10/31/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Top 100 supplement. Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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