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I drove to Wilmington Delaware to sit down with two employees from Breslin Contracting. I wanted to discuss their roles, history and passions plus get a glimpse of what life is like for contractors in this COVID world. Mike Parodi and Julie Mazzio were ready to talk.
I set up at the Breslin offices for my first interview with Julie Mazzio, Breslin’s Safety Coordinator. To help get her ready for the interview, I ask her what do you do for fun on the weekends? “Every Saturday or Sunday I take my daughter, who’s 14, and we go take photos of sunrises or sunsets depending on the time of the year,” she responds smiling. “I try to go to a different place each week.” We both settle in.
Julie begins, “I have been with Breslin for the last thirteen years, and I’m the Safety Coordinator. Typically, I visit 3 or 4 jobsites where I conduct a safety audit or maybe I do a little coaching if there has been some issue.” She then takes out her phone and shows me the way she conducts her safety audits. There is an app from OSHA where she reports her findings, attaches photos, and takes notes on the jobsite. Most of her day is filled with documenting the worksites and training and coaching the employees on the importance of safety. Julie adds “somedays you become “a counselor”, and being a woman, the guys really open up to me and are more comfortable asking for advice.” She goes on to talk about being a woman in her position in this industry. “I want to make sure they’re safe while working but also make sure they’re okay in all ways.”
I ask her, is it hard dealing with the ever-changing recommendations since COVID began? “It’s been difficult with all of the policy changes, and then you have to worry about the guys getting sick. At the peak, we had fourteen people out on quarantine. That was when it first started,” Julie adds. Is Breslin taking extra precautions? “Yes. A lot of sites have their own cleaning crews, so it’s really handled by the sites, but if they don’t have it set up, we have our own cleaning crews to protect our guys out there.”
We switch gears, and I ask about recent awards from ABC/Delaware. Breslin was given the platinum “STEP” Safety Award and the bronze Inclusion & Diversity Award. Julie explains - “during my mentorship program, I found out how the STEP program works.” There are twenty five areas that they look at, everything from training, mentor programs, to the company’s safety program.” This year Breslin was awarded Platinum for their efforts to keep a safe workplace.
Julie came to Breslin Contracting as their Safety Coordinator. She has been with Breslin for the last thirteen years. She has helped bring in new protocols and procedures for keeping the workplace safe. Julie is proud to be with Breslin, “my favorite part of the job is watching the older-employees mentor the newer guys, teaching them safety,” she says with a smile.
I then sit down with Mike Parodi - Operations Manager/Owner. He was just telling Kelly Milliner, EAS Territory Manager, a humorous jobsite story, when they finish laughing and he’s ready to talk.
As I start to ask Mike about the history of Breslin, his face lights up. He shares that two brothers started the company in 1968, Pat and Pete Breslin (Pat was the father of the current co-owner Tracy Filliben and married to Mike’s cousin.) Today it has grown into a successful industrial and commercial general contracting company. Pat and Pete were known to run a family-oriented company. Mike describes, “Breslin is a special place to work because we’re like family.” Pat and Pete always treated us well, and today we give our guys a lot more than many other companies out there. I understand my guys… I was in-their-shoes once.”
“My father told me to go into any industry other than cement work, so I ended up going to a Vo-Tech to work in the electrical trades,” Mike continues. “At one point, Pat asked me if I could wire a small office, just a couple of sockets and lights, and I just never left after that. Everything I learned in this industry, I learned from Pat and Pete.”
Mike has been with Breslin Contracting for forty-two years now. I asked him how they got involved in helical piles. “We always subbed helical jobs out to a particular company, and the owner mentioned that becoming an installer might be a good fit for Breslin, but we pushed that aside for a while. He approached us again a couple years later, and we were looking for something else to branch out into. The opportunity presented itself, and we took it. We bought his entire company, his employees came with us, his contacts, everything.” I asked how that made him feel. “I was really proud that little Breslin Contracting acquired another company. Even though it was a small company, it became a huge leap.”
From there Breslin has become a force in the DELMARVA helical pile industry. Mike’s face lights up, “I love being out there and watching the different installations - especially the really challenging situations. That’s where my guys really shine. Boe is one of our operators. He’s who we call in for the really difficult job locations, but all of our operators are top notch. Just to see how they overcome obstacles, it’s really my favorite. Mike goes on to say that we had to stabilize the back of a tavern, one of the oldest in the US, and that’s the kind of stuff that makes me proud. The tavern is still here because of the work we did. We get to help preserve history so that my grand kids will be able to enjoy these sites.”
Another point of pride is their involvement working with kids and different careers in the construction industry. Both Mike and Jamie Corridori, Breslin’s HR Director, are on ABC’s Career’s in Construction Committee. They talk and work with middle and high schoolers to spark interest in the construction world. Mike told me that the median age of construction workers in Delaware is 47, and it is important to reach out to the younger generation. He mentions their work at the Governor’s Construction Expo, “we get the kids involved. We are now targeting middle school kids to try and get them interested in the construction trades earlier, because by the time they get to high school the kids have already made up their minds.” Mike adds, “this shows kids there are options other than college. It’s very successful. They eat it up. Kids actually build a form with framers or lay brick… just trying to spark that fire!”
The passion and pride exhibited by Julie and Mike is reflected in the excellent reputation Breslin Contracting has built over the past 50+ years. Thanks again to Julie and Mike for sitting down with me and letting us get to know them even better. We are proud to have Breslin Contracting as one of our installers and are happy to shine the spotlight on them.
Earth Anchoring Suppliers:
Installer Insights - Breslin Contracting
by Chelsea Kiesling