Several large railroad construction projects in Kentucky during the 1960s helped vault V&G to a new level. Success in the rugged conditions on these jobs earned V&G a reputation as a trusted and innovative contractor.
V&G became well-known for projects involving huge amounts of earthmoving, such as this I-77 job in West Virginia in 1966.
Leo Vecellio, Sr., and his sister Erma Vecellio Grogan. After her husband, Gene Grogan, passed away in 1949, Erma managed crucial administrative functions for V&G for several decades.
Leo Vecellio, Jr., and Enrico “Ricky” Vecellio with their grandmother Anna Vecellio. In a tragic blow to the family, Ricky died of cancer at age 18 in 1971.
Between wet and freezing weather, extremely hard rocks and union disputes, V&G’s three 1960s Kentucky railroad projects faced many daunting challenges. The successful completion of the projects earned V&G a reputation as a trusted and innovative contractor.
“I’ve been with this company for 50 years, first with V&G and then Ranger, and I’m very proud of the work we’ve done. It’s never been about just a payday for me. We build projects that people need, and we can look back on a finished job and be proud of it. That’s something even the younger generation of workers can get a great sense of accomplishment from.”
— Gerald Cooper, Superintendent
Ranger Construction (50-year Employee)
“One thing that has inspired all of us at V&G over the years, myself included, is the Vecellios’ honesty ethic. They stress that employees always be straightforward with other employees, dealers, vendors, subcontractors and state highway officials.”
— Dan Castrodale,
V.P. of Safety & Equipment, Vecellio & Grogan
V&G began locally with street projects in Beckley, W.Va., but soon expanded. The fledging company began to build a reputation for delivering results in tough conditions. Leo Vecellio, Sr., became known for his high standards and ethical treatment of employees and vendors.
Things weren’t always easy for the new company, but skilled leadership, honesty and expert advice allowed the business to flourish in the face of challenges. When Leo was called into active duty during World War II, V&G stayed afloat until he was able to return home safely. After the war, Leo married Evelyn Pais and they began a family. Leo Vecellio, Jr., was born in 1946, followed by Enrico (Ricky) in 1953 and Patricia in 1958.
Vecellio & Grogan was formally incorporated in 1948, after 10 years of successful operation. Leo Vecellio, Sr., would later say it was during those first 10 years that he learned his most important lesson about managing a business — that superior employees are the only basis upon which one can build lasting success.
A Growing Company
In 1956, Congress approved and President Eisenhower signed what would come to be known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act. V&G was awarded its first Interstate job in 1959. While the company continued to work in other fields, especially coal mining, highway construction became an important and growing part of the business.
However, railroad construction rather than highway contracts would soon provide V&G with a crucial chance to reach new heights. In the early 1960s the company was awarded three large, simultaneous railroad projects in Kentucky. Together, the jobs created a make-or-break opportunity. V&G rose to the challenge and came out of the three successful projects with more equipment, a more highly skilled work force and a hard-earned reputation for delivering results in difficult and rugged conditions.