In July 2018, JT Cleary officially became part of the Tully Group, a construction company located in New York City. The Tully Group is one of the largest privately held construction firms in the United States. “The group [comprises] several companies: Tully Construction Company Inc., Tully Environmental Inc., and now JT Cleary in the New York area and Thalle Construction Company in North Carolina, among others,” said Dan Scully, vice president of Tully Environmental and now directly involved with JT Cleary. “All of these companies function as stand-alone entities, but of course all are able to support each other under appropriate circumstances.”
Originally working under the name Tully & DiNapoli, the names of the two founders, Tully helped build many signature infrastructure projects in the New York/New Jersey area, including the Tribourough Bridge officially opened in 1935, the 1939 World’s Fair, Grand Central Parkway, Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike, Cross Bronx Expressway, Idlewilde/Kennedy Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Whitestone Bridge and the foundation for the World Trade Center.
JT Cleary was founded in 1995 as a marine consultancy but quickly transitioned to marine construction, deep foundations, diving and, since 2005, dredging. “The JT Cleary name will stay the same, and Jim will remain president of JT Cleary,” Scully said, “but the new parent company Tully Group increases their capabilities to take on larger dredging projects on the East Coast. They’re already active in the dredging operations from Maine to Maryland.”
THE NEW YORK DREDGING MARKET
Both Jim Cleary and Dan Scully agree that the New York dredging market is underserved and that there is definitely room for another competitive dredging company, both for navigation and environmental dredging. Carol Shobrook was brought onboard at JT Cleary four years ago as president of sales and marketing to focus on dredging projects and Christopher Leykam serves as chief operating officer for marine and construction and dredging.
But what specifically led to this acquisition?
According to Jim Cleary, “About four years ago, I spoke to Peter Tully about opportunities in the dredging and marine construction market. He impressed me, as understanding the risks and the rewards of the market. That insight is very rare. From that moment on, the Tully Group was on my radar as potential partner. It is difficult to be small in this market, and as JT Cleary Inc. grew, the need for a financial partner became obvious. I could not ask for a better partner than the Tully Group. The future is unlimited with them.” On the other hand, The Tully Group, which has been expanding vertically for the last decade, was seeking horizontal expansion. “For the Tully Group the acquisition of JT Cleary was a strategic and logical step growing from our own experience in the heavy civil construction and environmental industries,” Scully said.
“JT Cleary’s focus on marine construction and dredging in the New York Harbor area complements what we’ve been doing. It is now an integral part of our growth strategy in the region and beyond.”
The fact that both companies are family owned and based in the New York City area contributed to a smooth and easy transition to working together, according to Shobrook.
“As part of the Tully Group, JT Cleary is well-positioned to expand within the dredging, marine construction and deep foundation markets,” Cleary said. “Tully brings generations of construction experience, as well as financial resources to the table. This will allow for further investment in dredging assets and fleet to grow our presence as a major player in marine construction and dredging industry on the Eastern seaboard.”
There is definitely dredging work to be done. Presently, JT Cleary is working on a $4.89 million maintenance dredging project at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, as well as the Rehabilitation of Docking Facilities & Marina Maintenance Dredging for the New York Police Department at Randalls Island, New York City, a project coming in at just under $1 million, and the maintenance dredging of Fishing Creek at the United States Coast Guard Station in Annapolis, Maryland, valued at $1.18 million.
Tully’s broad expertise includes working on dams and reservoirs, environmental, large utility, highway, bridge, airport, transit and site work, plus disaster and recovery, and treatment plants. Tully also operates asphalt plants, quarries, waste transfer stations and recycling facilities.
Environmentally speaking, Cleary will benefit from Tully’s expertise when it comes to dredged material that needs placement or treatment, a crucial item on many bids. One of Tully’s environmental jobs was the Alley Pond Remediation & Restoration in Douglaston, Queens, New York. Tully was also part of a joint venture awarded the contract to construct a solids handling facility at the Newtown Creek Sewage Treatment Plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Jim Cleary continues, “The environmental dredge windows in New York require projects to be started and completed quickly. For that reason having a fleet and assets close by, ready to be mobilized, is crucial for these dredging projects. Our New York base gives us an advantage, as well as the fact that JT Cleary is already a pre-qualified contractor for some of the major utilities in New York City.”
JT Cleary has a fleet of seven barges and four cranes, as well as Cable Arm environmental clamshell buckets and Anvil digging buckets. With JT Cleary’s acquisition, expansion has already begun. JT Cleary is rehabbing a few newly acquired hopper barges and exploring the possibility of purchasing some customized cranes purpose-built for dredging. The financial resources of Tully make these kind of capital investments possible. Tully on the other hand is glad to have found a partner that complements its heavy civil and environmental construction capabilities, since it had neither dredging equipment nor crews.
Tully Environmental and JT Cleary have already worked together on a dredging project on the Flushing River in New York, and going forward, there will likely be more opportunities to team on projects.
“The Hudson River clean-up has been the flagship of environmental dredging in the New York area,” Scully said, “but now attention is turning to other contaminated and non-contaminated areas. These are jobs that Tully and JT Cleary can bid on competitively and offer turnkey solutions. Tully has long worked in waste management, but we can also help consider beneficial uses for dredged material, when the opportunity arises.”
“The acquisition of JT Cleary by Tully was the natural evolution of our core business,” Scully said. “We needed dredging expertise in our strategic package and JT Cleary benefits from our bonding capacity and financial strength.” Both companies realize there’s a lot of competition out there but also a lot of work.
“We already have a number of bids on the burners,” Scully said.