Griffith construction company making a name in faraway places.
by Michael Puente
As companies go, Cambridge Companies of Griffith isn't exactly the most well known in Northwest Indiana.
But while folks around here may not have the 26-year-old company's name on the tip of their tongues, Cambridge is making a name for itself nationally, especially after taking on the largest recycling center in the state of Nevada.
“It's definitely our biggest project to date. It's the largest single-stream facility for recycling in the country,” says Jeff Eriks, vice president of project development for the family-owned-operated Cambridge Companies Inc. “We've been working on this project for more than two years now. We're happy to be part of this.”
The 110,000-square-foot transfer station is being built for Republic Services Inc. and sits on some 18 acres in North Las Vegas. In this project, Cambridge Companies assisted in the design of the building's layout and is now overseeing construction of the facility.
Some 80 construction workers will build the facility which will employ 180 full-time workers when it opens for business in fall 2015. Construction started in November 2014.
When complete, the transfer station will be able to process 70 tons an hour (420 tons per day)–nearly double what a comparable processing station can normally handle. Employees will sort through and remove garbage, metals and other debris from a conveyor belt that is 10 feet wide.
The collected 1,300 pounds of bales of paper, plastic and metals is seen as a commodity and shipped to domestic and international markets in less than a day.
While the popular saying is “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” this project is being talked about.
“It is fitting that a recycling complex of this magnitude is coming to Las Vegas,” says Tim Oudman, area president of Republic Services. “Southern Nevada is home to considerable natural beauty, and this community is deeply committed to sustainability. We are truly proud to invest in a recycling complex that will help preserve the local environment for future generations, and enable customers to meet or exceed their recycling goals.”
Ninety-five percent of the building is pre-engineered steel and will feature an interactive learning center offering visitors a firsthand view of the recycling process. Focusing on recycling and sustainability, the facility will include displays, videos and educational materials. In the way, this facility will be more than just waste transfer but also about education.
Eriks says Cambridge has had a long history working with Republic Services, one of the nation's largest waste management firms. It's no wonder that Cambridge Companies has built such a close relationship with Republic Services, since the company has constructed some 100 waste facilities nationwide.
“We believe that the success of our company is based on how we treat our customers, suppliers and employees. We believe in creating an atmosphere where everyone is focused on success and if we can create an opportunity where, in the end, everyone wins, we can be a successful organization.”
Cambridge also spends a considerable amount of time focusing on open communication, both within the office and out in the field with the owners. An informed client is typically a happy client, Eriks says. “It's when you keep them out in the dark that the relationship begins to become strained. It's important that we keep them up to speed on where the schedule and budget are at throughout every point in the project.”
Cambridge Companies is more than just waste facilities. From its non-descript company headquarters off Ridge Road in Griffith, the company employs some 20 people. The company was founded in 1988 by Jeff Eriks' father, Ray Eriks, and his stepmother Linda Eriks.
According to the company's website, the Cambridge team “believes dependable customer service is an essential component of each project we undertake and we constantly strive to operate with integrity and efficiency.”
In the beginning, Ray Eriks started Cambridge Construction and Development, operating throughout Northwest Indiana and Northeast Illinois, as a general contractor firm specializing in commercial and industrial design and build projects.
In 1998, Linda and Ray Eriks started Cambridge Building Inc., which expanded Cambridge's service area nationwide. In 2006, the companies merged to form Cambridge Companies Inc., which is licensed to do work in 30 states. The portfolio contains projects from coast-to-coast from Pensacola to Phoenix.
Jeff Eriks says Cambridge prides itself on offering exceptional customer service. “We like to focus on customer needs by getting to know and learning about the company itself,” Eriks says. “We like to make our clients' lives easier one project at a time. We like building personal relationships.”
Eriks says he hopes his company can start doing some work closer to home. “Our goal is to expand our client base throughout the U.S. in the solid waste and industrial markets. Cities in Northwest Indiana have to deal with trash on a daily basis,” Eriks says. “We are currently working on increasing our name recognition throughout our niche industries and are working to parlay that into a sustainable growth of around 10 percent per year for the next eight years.”
But the company is not satisfied in doing work just nationally. It is now expanding internationally. Jeff Eriks recently traveled to Sydney, Australia to work on a project there.
“Cambridge has worked through most of the contract details with the client and is looking forward to finalizing the agreement in the coming weeks. Design will start in May and construction in October for the first project. We are excited to work with the client in Australia to complete this first project and possibly two additional ones that are in the concept phase,” Eriks says.
No matter how big Cambridge Companies gets, the company's corporate philosophy will not change: “People do business with people because they choose to, not because they have to. We can always find others doing the same thing or selling the same product. It's the personal connection that makes the difference.”