When Basilio Petricca stepped off the boat from Italy onto a dock in New York harbor in 1910, he was sixteen years old and all he had was a small backpack and a big dream. Like so many other Italian immigrants who passed through Ellis Island, Basilio picked up a shovel and went to work as a laborer. He worked his way up into New England and landed in western Massachusetts in 1914. By the mid 1930’s he had worked his way up to a job as foreman of a large construction firm in Pittsfield. But during all those years, as he learned his trade and earned his paychecks, he had wanted to be in business for himself. He got that opportunity in 1936 when he was asked to work for less pay. That drove him to quit his job, start his own company and jump head first into the cutthroat world of Depression–era contracting.
Basilio worked doggedly through the first days of his self-employment waiting for his big chance. It came in the form of a vicious hurricane in 1936 that swept through the Berkshires, ripping up buildings, flooding fields and destroying at least seven bridges on the Hoosic River — stranding people who couldn’t get home or get to work. Basilio rushed to Boston to put in a bid for rebuilding one or two of the bridges and the State Engineer said, “Look Basilio, there’s no time to get a lot of bids …you take all seven of the bridges, but get them done in a hurry.” Basilio had never built a bridge before and was not equipped or staffed for such a major job. But with his intrepid spirit he took on the projects and quickly made the bridges passable again. His work on the seven bridges built Basilio’s reputation and he started moving into the big leagues, competing with larger contractors in the Berkshires and Western Massachusetts. With his pickup truck as an office and his steering wheel as his desk he started a company that today — three generations later –- does $100 million in annual revenue and employs 400 people.