Pittsburgh Business Times Article on Graciano As seen in May 511, 2000 Construction, Design & Engineering Special Report

5/01/2000, O’Hara Township

You don’t hear the name an awful lot when the area’s larger construction projects are mentioned. But when it comes to historic preservation and breathing new life into old buildings, Graciano Corp. in O’Hara Township has a nationwide reputation. “Giving a future to the past,” said Glenn Foglio, president of the privately held masonry and concrete restoration company. “That’s our trademark.” Indeed. Consider the projects that the company has been involved with in recent years: the renovation of the Queensboro Bridge in New York City; the restoration of the Rhode Island State House; and repairing of the facade of The Almas Temple, a historic building in the Franklin Park section of Washington, D.C. Even though the company, which employs 400 at its peak time during the summer, does jobs nationwide, it’s also very active in the Pittsburgh market as well. Locally, the company is involved in cleaning the exterior of The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum – a former post office on the North Side. It is also working on the lobby of the Fulton Building, a former Downtown office building that’s being converted into an upscale Marriott Hotel, and is repairing the terra–cotta roof of the Union Trust Building, also Downtown.

David Graciano, partner of Graciano Construction and company president Glenn FoglioDavid Graciano, partner of Graciano Construction, left, and company president Glenn Foglio at the restoration firm’s O’Hara Township offices.

Graciano Corp. was started in 1916 as a residential restoration firm by Joseph Graciano, who came to the United States from Italy. Initially, Mr. Graciano—whose family was in the stone cutting business in Italy—would travel to jobs as far away as Washington, D.C. He would carry extra tires and water in his car to make sure he arrived safely, said grandson David Graciano, who owns 50 percent of the company. In 1970, his grandsons, David and his brother, Richard, entered the family business. The company again expanded its services to include specializations, like cornice repairs, application of specialized coatings, chemical soil stabilization, terra–cotta and stone reconstruction, and epoxy injections. “They paid for my college education, so I though I would give it a try,” joked David Graciano. “I didn’t really think about going into the business when I was a youngster.” The firm began looking outside Pittsburgh for work in the early 1980s when the region’s steel industry declined. “Times weren’t so great in Pittsburgh,” Mr. Foglio said. “And then David Graciano received a contract at Shea Stadium.” That contract opened new doors for the company and led to the establishment of a New York office, where the company contracts for work at high–profile structures like Rockefeller Center and the MetLife Tower in Manhattan. Four years ago, Graciano established an office in Akron, which allows it to pursue work in the Midwest. In addition, the company has just opened an office in Cleveland. Mr. Foglio said Graciano now does projects as far west as Chicago and continues to have strong presence in the Northeastern United States. The strategy of going outside the Pittsburgh market has paid off. In 1970, when David and Richard Graciano entered the family business, gross sales were $600,000. Today, gross sales total $17 million. “About half of our work is in Pittsburgh,” Mr. Foglio said. Photo by Diana M. Scott

Mr. Graciano said his firm has probably worked on 70 percent of local skyscrapers. “A lot of the buildings we’ve worked on twice,” Mr. Graciano said. “Almost every significant building in Pittsburgh.” With the Fulton Building, the firm is working on the building’s exterior granite. It is also cleaning the mezzanine and working on restoring the marble in the lobby. At the Children’s Museum, Graciano is chemically cleaning the building. It’s also doing repointing and putting a sealer on the structure. At the Union Trust Building, the company is not only repairing the building’s intricate terra–cotta roof but also is waterproofing the roof to prevent further damage and replacing terra–cotta tiles as needed. “Terra–cotta was introduced in the 1920s and 1930s,” said Don McDevitt, Graciano’s vice president of sales and chief estimator. “At the time, they found it was cheaper and faster because it is lighter. Today, it’s very expensive to build.”

“This is a tremendously competitive business,” Mr. Graciano said.