Fast Track to the Future
G.W. Peoples Contracting Company Inc.
Fast Track to the Future
Produced by Victor Martins & Written by Jeanee Dudley
Melvin E. Clark Jr., chairman and CEO of G.W. Peoples Contracting Company Inc. (GWP), has been in the railroad
construction business for over three decades. Clark’s experience led GWP to become a national leader in the industry. The company’s Northern Virginia headquarters is backed by GWP’s two regional offices, which are located in Chicago, Ill., and western Pennsylvania. “We specialize in railroad, transit and related construction activities,” explains Clark. “That includes new rail construction, rehabilitation, maintenance, repair and demolition.”
GWP has left a geographic footprint across the country, helming projects from Los Angeles to Virginia, and up and
down the Eastern Seaboard from Albany, N.Y., to Atlanta, Ga. With such an extensive reach GWP’s clients include
public transit authorities, the Department of Defense and private-sector companies.
This impressive portfolio is due in part to GWP’s more than capable team, which begins at the helm. “I began working with GWP as a mentor and consultant in 2005, and joined the firm as CEO in 2010,” says Clark. “I then purchased 100 percent of the stock in 2011.” At that time Clark was charged with the task of restoring GWP’s reputation and stability, thus ensuring the company’s future viability.
Before his journey with GWP Clark founded Metroplex in 1982, which quickly grew into the premier minority rail
construction contractor in the United States. Metroplex was sold to UK-based international engineering/construction firm Balfour Beatty in 2000. When Clark became an executive at GWP, he brought more than his legal and business acumen with him; he brought an extensive background in finance, administration, public policy and philanthropy. Clark’s leadership, expertise and vision, paired with his sharp and experienced management team, allows GWP to boast a clean bill of fiscal health, producing over $14 million in annual sales today. Clark’s bio is impressive, as he was nominated for the 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young and currently sits on several prestigious boards and participates in associations that support small and minority business inclusion in publicly funded infrastructure projects.
Clark’s multiple recognitions fit well with the company’s core values and principles: trust, equal opportunities, creativity and innovative thinking, honesty and teamwork. Clark emphasizes this last one, saying, “Our employees are this company’s most valuable asset.”
GWP employs 160 people between the three branches. “We have the best staff in the world,” says Clark. His management team is experienced and comprised of several executives he has worked with in the past.
Ralph Golick, senior vice president of construction at GWP, is one of those trusted employees. “Ralph worked on some of the largest transit construction projects in the country,” says Clark. “He has been responsible for over $100 million in work, and really has some really significant experience in this business.”
Bill Frey, vice president of operations at GWP, is yet another asset, as he has been with the company since 2000. Bill’s background includes 22 years of railroad experience, and his work history encompasses leadership roles in all aspects of construction, operation and maintenance. Bill was a valuable addition to the company, as he worked with Metroplex for many years. “After the purchase, I was able to persuade Bill to join us,” explains Clark.
Building the Future of Transportation Between 2010 and 2012 GWP has been involved in several major infrastructure projects. “In Norfolk, Va., we did an entire rail system,” says Clark. “We are currently building the downtown streetcar system in Atlanta. We’re also performing construction on the Red Line Renewal Project in Chicago, on the MTA in New York, and on a number of private rail jobs in Virginia, Ohio and West Virginia. We’re already working 24/7 with multiple crews on multiple projects at a time. We are very proud of what we have accomplished.”
The team has plans to expand into the high-speed rail business as well. California’s state senate passed a bill granting $8 billion for a high-speed rail system in July 2012, and naturally GWP is getting involved. In addition, federal loans and grants are being dispersed along with private funding to support high-speed rail systems in Nevada and Florida.
“We’re looking to partner with other major contractors, many part of public-private partnerships on these high-speed lines,” says Clark.
GWP has already established a board of advisors building a vision for a larger company. “We have a path and we are getting ready to hire more young talent,” Clark adds. “Our marketing department and human resources are both utilizing social media and web marketing to reach out to identify new opportunities and fresh talent. We’re already the premier minority rail contractor, but we want to be known as the country’s best rail contractor,
GWP has the capability to perform on large design-build rail construction projects, start-to finish, utilizing an in-house team of experienced executives, project managers, engineers, technicians and field personnel. The company has the performance history, experience and equipment to provide quality rail systems that meet both the needs of clients and the highest safety and infrastructure standards, as required by federal, state and local regulation.
The GWP team values innovation, quality and safety above all else, and adheres to a mission of honesty and integrity. “Our biggest performance indicators are community involvement, job creation, and enhancing the strength of our reputation in the rail transit construction industry,” says Clark.
His personal dedication to serving community is shared by his colleagues and he says it is rooted in his upbringing. “My father taught me to do well by doing good,” explains Clark. “We’re trying to make a positive difference: an impact in our community, the rail industry and minority business.” Clark serves as Trustee for the Church in the Round in Aliquippa, Pa., in addition to supporting the church and Beaver County, Pa.’s local family life center, with his time and through his generous financial contributions.
Clark carries on his father’s commitment to excellence in his own mission to excel and compete with the largest rail
contractors in the country. Additionally, Clark and his team are making important networking decisions that are already establishing growth for GWP in several sectors. The business’ executives are leading the way for new technology, sharing best practices for safety and innovation, as well as staying ahead of the curve on legislative and regulatory trends. G.W. Peoples Contracting Company Inc. has been expanding the horizons of the U.S. rail system
for two decades, and Clark is looking forward to a future of accessible, high tech transit across the country.