Massachusetts-based Campanelli Construction has roots stretching back to 1947, when the company made cross-country waves during the post-war building boom. Now, 66 years and three generations later, the firm has developed 11 business parks in its home state, conducted more than 20 million square feet of construction along the Eastern seaboard, and provided international consultation in development, acquisitions, and site selection. “We’re a multicomponent company that not only does construction from the ground up—residential, commercial, industrial, and medical,” says present-day partner and president of construction Jeffrey DeMarco. “We also offer a fantastic array of full-service capabilities such as design, permitting, preconstruction, and property management.”
Campanelli has also won dozens of awards over the years, including the Safety Award from the Associated General Contractors of America and the Area’s Largest General Contractor award from the Boston Business Journal. Here’s a look back at how it grew to achieve such accolades.
Campanelli is founded
After World War II, brothers Nick, Joe, Michael, and Alfred Campanelli (pictured here) purchase surplus army equipment and begin constructing houses in Massachusetts, Florida, and the Chicago area. Between 1947 and 1985, Campanelli goes on to construct more than 30,000 ranch-style homes. “The company started to build a strong reputation for relationships, which set the foundation for our company down the line,” DeMarco says.
1960: Second generation joins
Following completion of his civil engineering degree at MIT, Robert DeMarco, the son of the only Campanelli sister, joins his uncles in the family business and leads a transition from residential to commercial construction. “This was a time when the company was in a good financial position to have the wherewithal to invest in new properties,” Jeffrey DeMarco says. “Campanelli bought and positioned these properties to be used by our first commercial and retail clients.
1961–63: Retail and commercial firsts
Under second-generation leadership, Campanelli completes the Bangor Shopping Center, the company’s first third-party construction project, in 1961. The next year, in Natick, Massachusetts, Campanelli builds the Zares Warehouse, which later develops into the headquarters for TJX, one of Campanelli’s long-standing clients. Then, in 1963, in Brockton, Massachusetts, following further capital investment, permitting, and construction bolstered by residential seed money, Campanelli builds the Westgate Mall, New England’s first enclosed mall.
1983: Jeffrey Demarco joins
Between 1958 and 1987, Campanelli builds and develops more than 2.1 million square feet of retail space. Jeffrey DeMarco, Robert’s son, takes over these efforts after joining the company in 1983. Although the economy slows as the firm moves into the 1990s, DeMarco says, “We were fortunate to have enough large projects to take us through this time, including the 350,000-square-foot, eight-story Presidents Place building in 1988.”
1996: Third generation takes leadership
“By the time my brothers and I took over the company in 1996, we were the beneficiaries of some great groundwork that had been developing since 1947,” DeMarco says. Some of the development business lulls in the 1980s and 1990s, but Campanelli increases its acquisition and investment activity by bringing on acquisition expert and current partner Stephen Murphy. “By the late ’90s, we were as active in acquiring real estate as we were in building real estate,” DeMarco says. “It’s a very important part of the success we enjoy now.”
1997–2000: Business continues to grow
In addition to its growing acquisitions arm, Campanelli also starts doing some major construction work. Notable projects include the 735,000-square-foot Gillette distribution headquarters in Devens, Massachusetts, completed in 1997, and the 250,000-square-foot third tower for TJX Companies, completed in 2000. The latter project brings Campanelli’s work for TJX to 750,000 built square feet (left), constructed over several decades.
2002–2003: Getting into the cold-storage market
Campanelli makes its first foray into freezer-warehouse construction, starting with a project in Sharon, Massachusetts, for Preferred Freezer Services. Campanelli goes on to build more than two million square feet of cold-storage facilities for the company, including another location in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 2008 (below). The firm uses these projects as a springboard into more work in the niche market. “We’ve since been working with Bindi, an Italian client, and Seafrigo, a French company; we’re going international as well with this part of the business,” current director of business development Peter Brown says.
2006: The first medical facility
In response to the demand along the Route 3 corridor in Weymouth, Massachusetts, Campanelli constructs the Weymouth Woods Medical Facility, the first of many medical projects. “Medical forms a lot of the ground-up construction work we’re doing right now,” Brown says. “And Massachusetts is one of the two major biotechnology markets in the US, so along with our cold-storage, medical-office, and warehouse projects, biotechnology is a key focus for keeping us busy in the future.”
2008–Present: Strategy for the new century
The economic collapse of 2008 marks a difficult change for industries across the board, but as a full-service organization with diverse construction, development, acquisition, renovation, and consultation capabilities, Campanelli easily responds to the upheaval and adapts itself for the 21st century. Among the firm’s current projects are the 175,000-square-foot Seafrigo Cold Storage Refrigeration Warehouse in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and the 80,000-square-foot South Shore Medical Center in Norwell, Massachusetts, and it’s taking on still more work of all stripes.
“We have retooled what we do and how we do it,” DeMarco says. “A client can go out and find a developer or a contractor or a landlord, but now, if they find Campanelli, they’ll find all of the above.”