If the concept of the American dream is to start at the bottom, work your way up and gain the respect of your peers in doing so - all the while overseeing multi million dollar projects, then Derry man John Duffy is living that dream.
Originally from Shantallow, John emigrated to the States in 1990 with his wife Sadie.
Taking his background in the local building trade with him, John - the son of local couple Bridie and Paddy Duffy - has since broken records with his groundbreaking approach to masonry.
He’s also worked his way up from being a bricklayer to the Vice President of a multimillion dollar company.
Acranom Masonry is one of the largest union masonry contractors’ in the USA with annual sales averaging $25 million to $40 million dollars and a bonding program of $100 million dollars. The company is owned by Salvatore and Trisha Monarca from Durham, Connecticut. As company Vice President, John and his staff constantly manage and oversee 10 to 15 major construction projects with approximately 100 to 200 or more union field employees.
Acranom Masonry, under John’s Vice Presidency, recently won the first Place USA National Masonry Award in the Institutional category for building CREC Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Academy in New Britain, Connecticut.
Derry man John will join some of his Acranom colleagues when they receive the accolade in Las Vegas in February at a ceremony during the World of Masonry/Concrete Convention.
A former St Columb’s College pupil, John has entered projects only three times in the last 12 years for the Project of the Year Award and all three have won.
In 2003 the Robert C. Vance building at Connecticut Central State University won. In 2010 the $17.5 million dollar masonry contract for Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut won both the Institutional Award and the overall 2010 USA project of the year award. Since emigrating to America in 1990, John has made his way steadily up the ladder, now responsible for overseeing projects on a huge scale.
After starting out as a brickie with his father in Derry, John made the move to the USA where he started out as a Mason Foreman then Estimator and from there to Project Manager and now as Vice President of Acranom. He is a nationally recognized Certified Professional Estimator with American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) and 16 year member on Board of Directors ASPE Connecticut. He’s also graduate of the International Masonry Institute Contractor College.
Acranom won the 2014 Project of the Year for the skill and high quality masonry work performed by its dedicated employees on a project with a very high degree of difficulty. The $6.2 million dollar masonry contract was built in nine months with John as the executive masonry Project Manager.
Former St Columb’s College pupil John remains modest and practical about his achievements to date. He enjoys speaking to career classes in high schools in America. He speaks passionately about the company he’s Vice President of and the qualities which he belives lie behind success.
Referring to one of his three prizewinning projects John says: “The success of this or any construction project is all about the proper pre-planning and then it’s all down to execution and performance while daily monitoring progress and managing the intermediate results. At Acranom our motto is we hire the right people and we put them in the right place. So as a company we get to know our employees very very well and more importantly get to observe and determine what are their best strengths and skills. We select and build Team Crews and we measure all performance then we place the Teams specifically as needed for each individual project.”
John says he puts all his accomplishments down to being blessed with good family, good friends and a good education. He believes in getting results through hard work, dedication and honesty.
In speaking to students he says he has one key message to pass onto them.
“That’s simply to remember and be proud of where you come from,” he says.
John certainly hasn’t forgotten his own roots and visits Derry when he can. A former Tristar Boys’ Club player he still enjoys watching Derry City play at the Brandywell during his trips home.
However in the near future, the Shantallow born masonry expert will be kept more than busy after his company received the good news of being awarded a $15 million dollar military contract to build the new US Army Cadet Barracks at West Point Military Base in New York. The seven story West Point project has 200,000 square feet of granite stone and it will be the largest stone project built in USA using the “New World Stone System” a 3D computerized system where each individual stone is singularly numbered and located for its exact position in the wall.