WORK IN PROGRESS: “Our firm is restoring, waterproofing, and cleaning the facade of St. Paul’s Church in Princeton. It is a large project, and we are skilled craftworkers who specialize in church restoration, among many other types of projects.” Shown left to right, working high above ground, are Paul Pennacchi, president of A. Pennacchi & Sons Masonry Restoration Company, and stone masons Gene Davis, Edwin Arroyo, and Samuel Bowens.
High up on the scaffolding surrounding St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church on Nassau Street, men are busy cleaning, waterproofing, and restoring the stone and mortar of the 56-year-old church.
“It’s a pleasure to work with the great community of St. Paul’s, including Pastor Monsignor Joseph Rosie, business administrator Lee Brennan, and so many others,” says Paul Pennacchi, President of A. Pennacchi & Sons Masonry Restoration Company, which is handling the project.
The bricks, stone, and mortar are crucial to a building, but never underestimate the people who see that the structure remains secure, stable, and strong.
Headquartered in Trenton, A. Pennacchi & Sons is a long-time family business. Established in 1947 by Anthony and John Pennacchi, it has a storied history. Anthony and John’s father, Gaetano, came to Trenton from Italy in the early 1930s, and started a masonry business in the Chambersburg section of the city.
The company grew when his sons came into the business, and by the 1980s, business had branched out into the surrounding area, especially Princeton. “We have even worked as far north as Newport, R.I., and as far south as Washington, D.C.,” notes Mr. Pennacchi. “We are the oldest masonry contracting company in Mercer County.”
Mr. Pennacchi, who grew up in the business and worked there after school and on weekends, became a full-time employee in 1985, and president in 1995. It’s a family business in every way, he adds.
“My brother, Anthony, Jr., who runs the suburban Philadelphia division, is a master stone mason, who can design, build, and erect any form and pattern of stone work. My father, the ‘Patriarch’ of all operations, who is now 81, is still a very active consultant. He helps me every day overseeing the crews, and with estimates and scheduling. My nephew, Sam Risoldi III is foreman and oversees the work getting done on time.
“My wife Rose and daughter Adriana help in the office with payrolls and accounting work, and my son, Paul, Jr., at 16, already works here part-time, and after college, he will join us, and work from the ground up, as we all did.”
As a full-service masonry, restoration, and waterproofing company, A. Pennacchi & Sons works on both light commercial and residential projects. It has a full-time staff of 10 craftsmen and multiple sub-contractors, who are employed year-round. It handles industrial brick, stone, and stucco work, brick and stone pointing, masonry and concrete repairs, chimney restoration, and waterproofing both above and below grade. It also installs French drain systems, sump pumps, and does foundation restoration.
In addition to St. Paul’s, current and recent projects include work at Jasna Polana Country Club, St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Hamilton Township Municipal Building, The Trent House, Drumthwacket, the Clark House, and countless private residences.
“Business is doing very well,” reports Mr. Pennacchi. “Sales are up, and last year was one of our best years. We are not a luxury. The work we do is a basic necessity for people. We are diversified, and we do all kinds of jobs, and we treat everyone the same regardless of the size of the project. The diversity of the work is such that one day we are at St. Paul’s, then at a golf course at Jasna Polana, then work at the Institute for Advanced Study, and at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.
“We’ll fix steps at a house, sidewalks, chimneys, patios, etc. A job could take one day, a week, three weeks, or months — it varies. For St. Paul’s, it is three months, and we are on schedule. I estimate how many hours, how many days, how many workers, and how much material will be needed for the job. There are no hidden costs or surprises. The challenge is managing all the jobs, but I really enjoy the diversity.”
Mr. Pennacchi, who is a member of Brick Layers Local Union #5, knows how important it is to be hands-on in the business, and he appreciates the skill, workmanship, and experience of his employees.
“As a bricklayer and stone mason, you serve a four or five year apprenticeship to a skilled mason. It is such a valuable experience. Our employees are our greatest asset. They are very skilled at what they do, and have their own specialties, and they are very dedicated. When we look at a building, we already have it conquered! We have people who are stone masons, others who specialize in basement waterproofing, and others who are plasterers. Here at Pennacchi & Sons, we all work as a team.”
“And, we are constantly learning and researching new techniques in restoration,” he continues. “My brother and nephew have completed the Jahn Restoration program, a select form of stone sculpturing, and they are pro’s at replicating ornate stone work.
“Another thing. I don’t call my competitors ‘competitors’. They are my colleagues and friends. If we all get too busy, we will work together.
“We also have great suppliers, including Yardville Supply, Heath Lumber, Kucker-Haney Paint Company, and Tattersalls. All are family-owned businesses that have supported us from the beginning.”
Mr. Pennacchi is very proud of his company’s longevity and fine reputation, and looks forward to an outstanding future. “I believe that success is based on quality, honesty, and personal relations with our customers. I look forward to continuing what we’re doing. My father, brother, and I are very content with how far we have come. It will be up to the fourth generation to take it to a new level. We are very proud of the business and what my grandfather began, my father and uncles continued, and how much the business has grown in 65 years. We still have customers whose fathers and grandfathers hired my dad back in the day! We are here to stay!”
A. Pennacchi & Sons are members of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, the Newport Historical Preservation Society, registered by the State of New Jersey as Historical Preservation Contractors, and are certified Jahn Applicators.
(609) 584-5777. Website: www.apennacchi.com.