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Meet George Furnanz!

George Furnanz
Chief Executive Officer
Stacy and Witbeck
Alameda, CA
Member, High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee and Streetcar Subcommittee

Please describe your organization’s scope.

Stacy and Witbeck is one of the country’s largest heavy civil contractors specializing in streetcar, light rail and commuter rail projects. We have averaged approximately $350 million in revenue over the last 10 years and currently have over 250 salaried employees with an average of 750 craft employees across the country.

Our corporate resume includes rail transit construction in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, San Jose, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Detroit and Kansas City.

How long have you been involved in public transportation?

I personally have been involved in the transportation industry for nearly 30 years. When I began my career with Stacy and Witbeck in 1987, we were involved in utility construction projects in San Francisco. Shortly thereafter we began pursuing road reconstruction projects as well as transit projects for both Santa Clara Valley Transportation Agency in San Jose and Muni in San Francisco.

I am not sure it was an attraction at first, more like fate, but once involved with moving people during construction and after, it was clear that I possessed a passion for this business. Developing strategies to move people and cars with different phasing schemes through the construction phase is challenging, yet enjoyable and rewarding. Through the years of similar construction, the ability to come up with better ideas of how to move trains, cars and people is very rewarding.

Please describe your involvement with APTA.

Stacy and Witbeck has been an APTA member for the last 15 years. In the beginning, we would send a small group to the Annual Meetings and through this participation, found the value and need for a contractor like ourselves to get more involved.

Over the years we have had many of our key employees speak on panels, become part of the Board of Directors, participate as committee members and the like. We have also found the benefits of becoming sponsors of the many APTA events and have enjoyed the people we have met and with whom we have established long-term friendships and relations.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource?

The sharing of information to better this industry that truly exists to improve the lives of the people is the greatest benefit. The ability to participate in the forums and events allows our people to understand better how things work, what makes them happen and some of the roadblocks that we face on the projects we build.

Together, I feel that we can improve the way we do business; it just takes a little trust, sharing of information and then, most importantly, the honest communication it takes to work together with the good of the project as a common goal.

What do you like most about your industry involvement?

I enjoy that Stacy and Witbeck is still one of the only contractors that truly is ‘all in’ when it comes to APTA.

We feel that we were the trailblazer for our industry to not just build the work, but to get to know the owners we work for and understand the challenges they face as well as our own. We realize that the projects we build are challenging, but together through our increased communication, participation and furthering the education of our team, we can and will get better.

Working with both the project team and the public is exciting. It is rewarding to look back at the projects we have constructed, remember the people who helped witness the transformation of the cities following the opening of these transit projects and be able to ride ­public transportation systems we helped build.

What would readers be surprised to learn?

I am not sure it would be a surprise to most involved with APTA, but although we are a construction company by name, our business really is about moving people.

After many years of actually constructing these transit projects (which, by the way, is the most fun when you are physically out managing the day to day work, as I did for the first 10 years with Stacy and Witbeck), it really came down to how you moved the people around your construction that was key.

Finding the different ways to phase traffic, reroute major roads around the construction, and reroute pedestrians and bicycles safely through the jobsite was the real key to success. Also, getting to know and work with the community, both living and working, where we built, was very key to the success of a project.

These were things that our company truly believes in and still does. We believe that Stacy and Witbeck is second to none in the industry we call home. As we say…Happy Community, Happy Project!
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