By Holly Hammersmith | Photo by Thomas Skernivitz
What was first a simple family-owned lawn care business in 1995 has grown today into a Cleveland-based concrete company that employs 20 people and takes on jobs as large as the creation of the new Innerbelt Bridge over the Cuyahoga River. Caver Brothers is working on that project in partnership with the Ohio Department of Transportation and Trumbull Corp.
Trumbull is working jointly with Great Lakes Construction Co. and The Ruhlin Co., and is known as Trumbull-Great Lakes-Ruhlin (TGR) for the project. The project demolishes the 1950s-era Innerbelt Bridge and constructs the new eastbound George V. Voinovich Bridge – the second of a pair – in its place.
Caver Brothers focuses on flat and structural concrete projects, with an added ability to clean up and landscape following a job. This double-team approach has helped the company grow steadily year after year.
“It’s more helpful that we can offer both sides,” Jesse Caver says. “We always look at it like we can close the job out.”
The brothers often found when only doing landscaping they would be waiting for concrete workers to finish their part of a job. That held up business, scheduling new work and cash flow. “We started cutting grass and next thing you know we got into concrete,” Marcel Caver says. “It kind of just walked onto our lap, and I started liking it.”
Around 2000, Marcel says he took it upon himself to gain expertise and knowledge in the concrete industry both through education, such as the James H. Walker / Turner School of Construction Management Program, and the guidance of a union concrete worker they brought on staff in those early days.
Soon they were able to expand their services. By selling both concrete work and landscaping they were able to offer faster delivery on projects. That change propelled their business to a new level. But in 2007 the Caver Brothers were hit hard when many of the home developer companies went bankrupt.
They struggled financially but survived. Around that same time they made another big change, to move from residential to only commercial work, which had stronger financial backing, Jesse says.
Today their company performs solo, and also provides subcontracting for larger companies, such as on the bridge project. They primarily serve Northeast Ohio but have also done jobs within the regional area, including parts of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Today some of the services they provide include storm water protection, shrub installation, and retaining walls.
Past work done by Caver Brothers includes Phases 1 through 3 of restoration of St. Luke’s Manor in Cleveland, and upgrades in 2012 at First Energy Stadium, including demolition and re-pouring of concrete ramps. Caver Brothers also performed exterior concrete patching outside of the Radio One building in MidTown and are in the midst of a restoration project at the Cuyahoga County building on East 9th St.
For the Innerbelt Bridge project, their role is developing. They are providing storm water protection with silt fencing as a barricade to prevent erosion. They also installed curbs, sidewalks and gutters in Tremont Park as part of the project.
Concurrently, the brothers have entered the ODOT Mentor/Protégé Program in hopes to gain more work through the state. This two-year mentorship program will assist with the further development of their business and will allow them to directly bid on future ODOT work. Great Lakes Construction Co. is their mentor.
“It just prepares you to grow your business,” Jesse says.
As a minority business, the brothers saw an opportunity for larger projects through this program and also by aligning with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s DBE (disadvantaged business enterprise), a program that provides awareness and increased bidding opportunities to minority businesses involved with state and local jobs.
“When you’re bidding you want to make your odds of getting the work stronger,” Jesse says.
A lot has changed in the nearly two decades Caver Brothers have been in business. Today, Jesse’s role as vice president means he is continually pounding the pavement in a difference sense – serving in a business development role. He is looking for the latest project to bid, networking and building up the Caver Brothers brand. He is also active with the Construction Employers Association, specifically its diversity and inclusion efforts.
And in 2012-2013 Jesse completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in Cleveland. He enjoys meeting people through his work, and sometimes having opportunities to share the Caver Brothers story with younger entrepreneurs. That’s something Jesse says he never imagined he would do.
For Marcel, seeing the actual creation of something new, and being a part of it, inspires him daily.
“The fun part about it is the competition, the bidding, it’s like a rush,” Marcel says. “You get things done… and make stuff beautiful. You want to look back and say, ‘We did that.’”
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