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For Allegheny Construction Group, every job is equally important

The job only paid several thousand dollars.

Removing a handful of ticket counters for beleaguered US Airways at Pittsburgh International Airport was a task other contractors turned away. Not worth their time, they said.

But the quick-hit job for Allegheny Construction Group Inc. grew into a six-year relationship as a contractor with US Airways.

The South Fayette-based company grew from $2 million to almost $24 million over 10 years by following a recipe of impeccable customer service, measured growth and simply doing their homework on projects. Moreover, the company says, nearly 99 percent of their customers are repeat clients.

“Your reputation is at stake in every job you do,” is how President Laura S. Deklewa sums up the credo of the company, which she bought in 1998.

Smaller projects “are never a waste of time. You never know where things are going to go,” she said.

The strategy is a smart one, an observer said.

“We are dealing with such uncertain times,” said Ray Vargo, director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Many companies often overlook details in customer interactions or assignments because they are too distracted on their pipeline and where the next dollars will come from, he said.

When clients find a responsive vendor that delivers excellent customer service, they often become “a great advocate” for that company, recommending them to potential new customers.

Laura Deklewa and her husband, Vice President Richard Deklewa, are a detail-oriented couple. While Laura’s management and accounting background takes care of the dollars and cents of running the business, Richard directs the front-end estimating and pre-construction work.

While Allegheny Construction’s original mission was design/build pre-engineered structures, it has branched out to a host of construction-related and industrial work, including renovations and new construction of commercial and industrial projects.

The path to $24 million in annual revenue has not been marked by booms nor busts. Instead, it’s been steady, incremental growth.

Allegheny Construction never set out to be the biggest construction contractor on the block, the Deklewas said, but instead to give the best service. Projects are pursued after a careful assessment of the risks and rewards.

Their current lineup illustrates their work mix — renovation of the Thomas Studio of Performing Arts in Bridgeville, along with leading the overhaul of a high-rise at Lawrenceville-based Children’s Hospital’s St. Francis Plaza, which will house the Ronald McDonald House.

The company has seen too many of its competitors bid with no profit margins just to move business through the door.

“We don’t want the wrong $10 to $15 million project that would harm our growth,” Richard Deklewa said.

“Rapid growth would not be ideal” without the infrastructure to sustain it.