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5.2 Million

The number of Americans employed by majority-owned U.S. affiliates of foreign companies in 2010.

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Success Stories

Pablo Del Valle has made it his personal mission to improve the lives of Puerto Ricans through constructing quality projects. Founded in 1988, the Del Valle Group, is a recognized leader in road construction, pavement rehabilitation, bridge construction, marine structures, and buildings and site development.

The Del Valle Group currently has 350 employees and completed more than 197 projects to date. The company’s net worth is more than $878.6 million.

Pablo’s hard work as company president has not gone unnoticed. He has attracted numerous accolades, including selection as the Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) 2010 National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Minority Construction Firm of the Year.

MED Week is an annual event that recognizes minority entrepreneurs’ businesses that contribute significantly to the development and strengthening of the minority business community.

“We are very proud of this achievement, not only on a personal level, but also for all employees who work at the Del Valle Group,” Pablo said. “Several organizations and institutions, such as the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), AGC Puerto Rico chapter and the Institute of Civil Engineers have recognized this achievement. This award also represents a great honor for the local construction industry and especially for Puerto Rico.”

His other honors include the Contractor of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association; Minority Firm of the Year by the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority of Puerto Rico; and being named Distinguished Engineer by the Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers.

The company’s main offices and equipment yard are situated on 16 acres with eight buildings covering more than 40,000 square feet for equipment shops and administrative offices. The company’s main office is located in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.

For more than 30 years, Pablo has excelled in the administration and technical management of major projects for the government and private enterprise, both in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

His family is deeply involved in the business, including two sons – the eldest is the vice president of the equipment division, and the other son works in the estimating department. His daughter is the general manager of an affiliate company.

Like most companies, the Del Valle Group has not escaped feeling the impact of the U.S. recession. “The economic downturn has impacted the Puerto Rican economy. Currently, we are at 2005 billing levels and the backlog is decreasing rapidly. In addition, the financial sector that normally provides financing for new projects has not committed.”

“We are a company that thrives on planning and problem solving,” he said. “We consider ourselves a company of solutions. We tackle every project (large or small) with a systemic planning approach. This approach has been a successful tool in our business.”

“By virtue of the industry, construction is constantly changing, Pablo said. “We face challenges every day. Perhaps the most challenging project is currently underway, the Port of Americas Project in Ponce, Puerto Rico. It is the largest project we have undertaken with a value of $84.5 million.”

One of the ways that Pablo has kept his company strong is by adapting to industry changes. “We are in constant training through seminars, webinars, dedicated training sessions, and participation in national conventions, such as the AGC national convention. We also keep up-to-date on new industry trends.”

“Throughout the years, we have established a solid foundation as a company that always completes all construction projects on time. Currently, we have the most diversified equipment fleet in the local industry, coupled with a well-motivated experienced work force, that has allowed us to reach this level of performance.”

As far as next steps are concerned, Pablo said the company is broadening its search for opportunities. “The local economy is not supporting business expansions,” he said. “We are looking at other geographical areas for possible work. We recently engaged in the Global Construction Program announced by MBDA. Also, we are looking for possible work in the reconstruction of Haiti as well as other markets.”

Pablo points to MBDA as a significant help in developing business strategies to strengthen his company. “For federal programs, we are required to prepare subcontracting plans and MBDA has helped us. We also look forward to developing a closer relationship as business opportunities arise.”

Pablo currently serves on the board of directors for the General Contractors Association and the Construction Industry Museum Foundation.

He holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts of Mayaguez in 1969.

Pablo said, “I am most proud of having a successful business and seeing it grow into one of Puerto Rico’s largest construction companies.”


Agro Farma manufacturing plant in New Berlin, NY.

Chobani is the brainchild of Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant who recognized the promise held in the yogurt market and risked everything in its pursuit. In 2005, Ulukaya was in the fourth year of running Euphrates Inc., his feta cheese manufacturing startup in Johnstown, N.Y. when he noticed a mailed advertisement for the sale of a Kraft Foods plant.

Chobani is the brainchild of Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant who recognized the promise held in the yogurt market and risked everything in its pursuit. In 2005, Ulukaya was in the fourth year of running Euphrates Inc., his feta cheese manufacturing startup in Johnstown, N.Y. when he noticed a mailed advertisement for the sale of a Kraft Foods plant. Rebuilt in 1920 after a fire destroyed the original building, the New Berlin, N.Y. facility had aging yogurt production equipment and once employed 55. When Ulukaya toured the 80,000-square-foot building, he decided to buy the plant the very next day.

With an SBA 504 loan, Ulukaya was able to purchase the plant in August 2005. Ulukaya hired five seasoned Kraft employees and spent the rest of the summer covering the outside of the facility with a fresh coat of white paint. Agro Farma started out making private label regular yogurts for other large companies but Ulukaya believed he could make a better yogurt than the competition: “We aimed at people who never liked yogurt. We couldn’t blame them because what was available was not what the rest of the world was eating.”

The recipe for Chobani is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, with twice the protein and none of the preservatives and artificial flavors. What’s in the yogurt- five live and active cultures, including three probiotics- is as important as what’s not, and Agro Farma turned this competitive advantage into the yogurt’s slogan, “Nothing But Good.”

Existing Greek yogurt lines were most often sold in expensive specialty stores, so Ulukaya marketed his yogurt brand to a wider customer base through mass distribution channels of grocery store chains. After more than a year developing Chobani’s trademark taste, in October 2007 Agro Farma’s first shipment included five different flavors- blueberry, peach, strawberry, vanilla and plain- sold to a single Long Island grocery store.

With less than 50 employees when Chobani first hit the shelves, Agro Farma has grown to employ 670 today, providing valuable employment opportunities in Chenango County. Agro Farma now has three full-time shifts, with multiple production lines running 20 hours before stopping for cleaning and maintenance for four hours.

Less than four years after launching, the success of Agro Farma is inspirational, with 1.2 million cases of Chobani made weekly. And in spite of working seven days a week, Ulukaya and his team are enjoying the dynamic journey: “A lot of exciting things are happening for the company. If you put your mind to something, put good people around you, and believe, anything is possible. Chobani’s story is, for me, if you really try hard, you can do anything,” he said.


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