US Builders Review                                                    

A.P. Croll & Son Inc.: A Family of Mid-Atlantic Heavy Site Work Contractors

Albert Page Croll founded A.P. Croll & Son Inc. (A.P. Croll) in 1921. A.P. Croll started out perfecting projects in and around Delaware’s Sussex County, but the company has since grown into a mid-sized regional site work contractor.

A.P. Croll has prospered over the last 91 years, while the title of CEO has been passed down from father to son. Currently, A.P. Croll III, also known as Gus, is at the helm of the well-run family business.

“As a family business I know my name directly tied to everything we do,” explains Gus. “So we focus on doing quality work in a timely fashion. I spend a lot of time in the field working directly with the crews to ensure we provide the best customer service possible and this sets us apart from the megacorporation. It improves our responsiveness and allows the customer to get an answer quickly. If we make a mistake, we fix it at our own expense if necessary. It’s not all about the lowest bid here; it’s about our reputation. This is not a cookie-cutter operation. Trust and relationships are at the heart of our business.”

The Right Stuff

A.P. Croll remains a medium-sized contractor, with as many as 150 employees on staff during busy seasons. No matter the season, the A.P. Croll team is focused on the utilities aspect of construction.

“Our projects range in scope from $5,000 to $5.5 million, but we make sure not to accept jobs that are too big or too small,” says Gus. “We focus on where our efficiencies lay and try to keep in mind that you should never put all your eggs in one basket. The key to success is finding your market, we do a lot of projects that require attention to detail and a focus on safety, from reconstructing wastewater ponds, deep underground sewer, installing spray irrigation fields, repairing storm structures, shopping centers and complete subdivisions. I have to keep our staff working as they have families to feed just like me.”

Most of the work on A.P. Croll’s projects is performed in house. However, when the company does reach out for help, Gus reports that he has established a network of partners and friends who specialize in different related areas, like paving and concrete work.

“We outsource these because like us these companies have developed efficient and cost-effective ways of completing the work and it makes no economic sense to have an in-house paving crew when you only need them for 30 days a year,” details Gus.

Medium-market Management

With the construction industry in a bit of a slump, A.P. Croll has been working to improve operations, adding efficiency through technology and streamlining. “It’s been challenging,” admits David Eisenhour, information technology director at A.P. Croll.

To make ends meet, the company has streamlined accounting and estimating, plus A.P. Croll now utilizes GPS guidance for machine control. “We use technology to improve our end-product and give our clients exactly what is on their plans,” continues David. “Gus is intent on keeping this business open for the fourth generation. He sold his airplane and made personal sacrifices to ensure we had the tools needed to compete in this highly competitive marketplace.”

The team at A.P. Croll is staying ahead of the recession by prioritizing quality work, and actively seeking projects suited to the company’s specific talent set. “We are not just waiting around for the good projects to known at the office door,” says Gus. “We are focused on quality of quantity, and will continue to maintain a positive local reputation, as integrity comes first here. We have broad capabilities and a three-state geographic footprint. Our family of employees is pulling through the downturn with grit and grace.”

Gus and the team are determined that A.P. Croll & Son Inc. will continue providing efficient performance, while offering honest service to customers in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia for the next 91 years.