A downturn in the construction market is often one of the red flags signaling a recession, but the tough times can be combated with a commitment to excellence, says a Westbrook construction company.

Last month, CCB Inc. landed a $253,000 contract to install a wind turbine off Cape Cod for the area’s transit authority, beating out competing firms from four states. The wind power project is the first to be financed solely by the federal government.

The economy has forced companies to sacrifice safety or quality, to cut corners or run out of money on projects, but CCB won’t do it, said Beth Sturtevant, the company’s president.

“The challenge is always to work with the people and motivate people to bring the (best) level of service and quality to our clients,” she said.

CCB is a general contractor working in industrial maintenance, steel erection, heavy concrete, renewable energy and nearly everything in between. Most of its work is concentrated in the Northeast.

It will build a turbine off Cape Cod that will stand 120 feet tall at the hub and will generate up to 60 percent of the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority operating center’s electricity.

“The (Federal Transit Administration) are watching what we’re doing very closely, and hopefully we’ll be a model for this kind of thing,” said Paul Keith, the project manager. Other regional transit authorities have already inquired about the project as well, he said.

Sturtevant said the project is a high-profile one that could be a possible marketing tool in the Obama administration’s push for alternative forms of energy once it is completed in October.

“There is demand (for alternative energy),” she said, “and there is going to be more demand.”

CCB also deals heavily in the private sector. It’s completing the foundation for the new $93 million Life Sciences Center at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. The building is planned to reach LEED Platinum status, the highest level of certification for “green” construction.

When completing projects, CCB tries to bring Maine subcontractors along, Sturtevant said.

In the last 10 years, H.B. Fleming Inc. in South Portland has completed about a dozen projects with CCB, and Dean Sciaraffa, the president, says the relationship has been good for his business.

Sciaraffa’s company is preparing to start a dam project in Shelburne Falls, Mass., with CCB this month.

“They’re honest, they give their customers a good value, a fair amount of work for the price, and that’s really the bottom line,” Sciaraffa said.

But it hasn’t been easy for CCB. Sturtevant, who took the helm in 2004 after two decades in construction, said she expects the company’s work to be down 20 percent from last year.

Although the company has a solid group of repeat clients, she said work has been tight.

“People are slow to make decisions,” Sturtevant said. “People have money, but they’re sitting on it.”

Sturtevant said the key to it all is a dedicated staff with a depth and range of institutional and technical knowledge. “They put a good label on being a construction worker,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Stephanie Hardiman can be contacted at 791-6301 or at: [email protected]