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Ready for anything

Subcontractor of the Year

Edward E. Gillen Co.


Richard Zirbel, president of Edward E. Gillen Co. (Photo by Corey Hengen)

When the going gets tough, businesses and agencies give a call to Edward E. Gillen Co., Milwaukee.

The subcontractor, which specializes in deep foundation work and marine construction, has been called in to work on emergencies such as a Port of Milwaukee piling that was hit by a barge and a sudden sinkhole that swallowed a Cadillac SUV this summer in Milwaukee.

“They fly right in during emergencies and just do an outstanding job,” said Larry Sullivan, chief engineer for the Port of Milwaukee.

Gillen is the Port’s marine contractor and works on a series of jobs from stabilizing dock walls to specialized underwater construction and breakwater work. The company excels at projects that are planned, Sullivan said, as well as unplanned situations like the wayward barge.

Gillen uses specialized equipment and a well-trained staff to work on projects that other companies may shy away from, he said.

“There’s not too many like them,” Sullivan said.

When a 20-by-40-foot sinkhole opened up on Milwaukee’s north side after torrential rains in July, Gillen was called in to build a containment shaft to stabilize the area.

The fact that the company was able to respond to a call like that quickly and effectively sets it apart, said Rick Schmidt, president and CEO of C.G. Schmidt Inc., Milwaukee.

“They’re not afraid to take on those more complicated jobs and those under tougher circumstances,” he said.
Schmidt said his construction firm has worked with Gillen for decades.

“They’re very reliable and deliver high-quality service,” he said.

On longer-term projects like the recent revitalization of the Kinnickinnic River, Gillen’s skills were put to work stabilizing a shoreline in need of repair. The company moved 167,000 cubic yards
of contaminated sediment to a nearby disposal facility during the project, making it possible to navigate the river again.

Despite a daunting schedule and logistical challenges, the Kinnickinnic River project was completed one month early and under budget.

“They are so well trained,” Sullivan said, “and they have the equipment needed to get the job done.”

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