2013 Honoree: Edward Cruz
DOCTOR OF SCIENCE, HONORIS CAUSA
Hop Brook Properties, LLC
In addition to the values instilled in him at an early age, Ed Cruz attributes his success to the education he received at Newark College of Engineering and the good fortune of surrounding himself with extraordinarily talented and dedicated people most of whom like him also received their educations at Newark College of Engineering or New Jersey Institute of Technology. One of the first people Cruz met when he began at Newark College of Engineering in the fall of 1959 was Mal Simon, the soccer coach, who became a mentor and a lifelong friend. Cruz played on his soccer team for four years, which won the 1961 NAIA national championship and during this time amassed a record 22 consecutive wins. At NCE, Cruz was a member of Chi Epsilon, the Civil Engineering honor society, in his junior and senior years and of Sigma Pi, the social fraternity, for three years. He graduated with a BSCE in 1963.
After college Cruz immediately went to work at his father’s company, Cruz Construction, which was founded in 1951 and by 1963 was establishing a name in the utilities construction business. In 1968 he received his Professional Engineers license in New Jersey. From 1974 to 1984, he headed the company with his cousin Evaristo as they took turns doing estimating, project management and payroll; during that time, the company expanded its operations into seven northeastern states from Delaware to New Hampshire. By 1982, Cruz Construction Co. had attained the enviable listing by ENR as one of the Top 400 US construction companies.
In the early 1980’s, the company’s success culminated with the completion of one of the largest transportation projects for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, a section of its Northeast Corridor Rail Project through Jamaica Plain, including the Green Street Station. In 1984, after completion of the MBTA project and with the company at its peak, Cruz and his cousin founded E.E. Cruz & Company, operating in New Jersey and New York City. The company soon became a leader in the heavy construction marketplace with a team that has been the envy of the industry. Major initial projects included the bridge widening of Interstate Route 287 through Middlesex County, New Jersey, and the 25-block reconstruction of Columbus Avenue in New York City. Through the late 1980’s and 1990’s, E.E. Cruz & Company continued its steady growth with a management team noted for its technical expertise and hands-on know-how, many of whom came from NJIT.
The growth of the company at the turn of the millennium brought more opportunities both in volume of work and complexity and required an even more technically oriented workforce. By 1998, Ed and his cousin embarked on a new project, the founding of a commercial bank to serve the ethnic Ironbound community of Newark. The Ironbound Bank proved a success and within a short time expanded to four operating branches serving Elizabeth, Union, and Newark. The bank continues to operate successfully today under the banner of New York Community Bank.
The events of September 11, 2001 brought unexpected challenges to E.E. Cruz & Company. Many of its employees volunteered for the initial cleanup and the company went on to undertake some of the first rebuilding contracts, including the securing of the perimeter slurry walls and later on the foundations and structural elements of the 9/11 Memorial. In 2008, the company obtained its largest contract to date—the construction of a section of the Second Avenue Subway for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority—and has since obtained a second major contract from the MTA at Second Avenue.
In his early career Cruz served as president of the NJ Utility Contractors Association and soon after as president of the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) in DC, primarily promoting the Federal Clean Water Act. Later, as they established themselves in the New York City market, the company joined the General Contractors Association of New York City and Cruz came to serve as its president. In 1978, he received NUCA’s Ditch-digger of the Year Award, its highest honor, and in 1987, he was accepted as a member of The Moles, an association of contractors and engineers from all corners of the United States. In 2002, he was elected president of The Moles and on January 25, 2006, he received its highest honor given annually to a Moles member for outstanding achievement in construction.
Cruz also was the recipient of the Engineer/Constructor of the Year Award from the Professional Engineers in Construction and was honored with NJIT’s Edward F. Weston Award in 1983. Helping to build and rebuild the J. Malcolm Simon soccer stadium was a labor of love, as is providing scholarships to worthy students not only at NJIT but also in the Ironbound community, and supporting NJPAC with its community-centered programs along with helping the Ironbound Boys and Girls Clubs with its fundraisers.
By 2010 E.E. Cruz & Company billings had also put it into the ranks of the top 400 construction companies in the United States and with its record of success in the exceptionally demanding but active New York market, came to the attention of the international construction industry and in 2010 was acquired by Hochtief AG, a German company with operations worldwide in the fields of heavy construction, mining, and concessions, through its subsidiaries in the US, Turner Construction and Flatiron Construction, and continues to operate as a division of Flatiron. The management team of E.E. Cruz remains in place and continues intact with Cruz’s retirement as chief executive officer at the beginning of 2013 after 50 successful years in the industry.