You’ve driven down Main Street hundreds of times and passed the mid-century modern looking building with perfectly manicured landscaping. For most long time Mullica Hill residents, the unique structure is remembered as Dr. Harris’ office, husband of the namesake for our beloved Ella Harris park. Today the sign simply reads 79 South Main Street, US Construction Group.
On a Main Street that boasts restaurants, law firms, boutique retailers and antique stores, a construction company that works beyond the borders of South Jersey is certainly different.
The company was founded in 1996 by lifelong South Jersey resident, Tony Onesti, an electrician by education with an entrepreneurial spirit. US Construction Group is nationally recognized for high-end retail and commercial construction with well known clients like Ann Taylor, Shake Shack , Saks Fifth Avenue, Ballard Designs and more. And notably, Tony and his team also rebuilt the “new” blueplate, a project that really hit home for the humble and gracious Onesti.
Creating the NEW blueplate
“The blueplate project was special in many ways. Not only was it in our community but it was in support of a local resident and business owner whose livelihood was disrupted by a devastating fire.” Onesti explained. “We build relationships with all of our clients, but working with Chef Jim Malaby and his family was a new level of personal.”
While the majority of the work US Construction provides is well outside of NJ – they currently have projects in Chicago, New York, Nashville and Houston – working two blocks from their office and in the heart of the community was a pleasant change of pace.
“This was a great opportunity to hire local contractors and support more businesses in South Jersey,” Tony proclaimed, “working all over the country we just do not get many chances to make a positive economic impact so close to our home.”
The new blueplate opened last fall and was an immediate hit. The eclectic and rustic design expanded dining room, 3rd floor “loft” and always delicious food, quickly brought back and created new blueplate enthusiasts. The local favorite was better than ever. For Tony, the story does not end there.
“It’s (blueplate) only a couple blocks from my office, so of course I eat there regularly,” stated Onesti. “Everyone knows the food is amazing, and Jim gets a lot of compliments, but what I enjoy hearing is the reaction from their customers on the design and finishes. There has been so many accolades, it is truly rewarding to me on a personal level.”
Tony and his wife, Sherry, US Construction Group’s Director of Business Development, explained the project was special in another way. For most of their large corporate clients, US Construction works with a design team that have a set standard for the buildout of their locations. This was not the case with blueplate. Having the opportunity to work directly with Owner and Chef Jim Malaby to build the “new” blueplate and achieve the distinct vision he had for his restaurant, allowed the US Construction team to be part of and collaborate in the creative process.
Jim provided his perspective, “It was a pleasure working with Tony, Sherry and all of the folks at US Construction. This was an opportunity to build my dream and it came out exactly how I envisioned. I don’t believe I could have gotten there without the tremendous partnership with US Construction.”
More local projects and an expansion into residential
blueplate was not the only project US Construction Group has completed on Main Street. The other being the buildout of Fun and Fit Aftercare in the Old Trinity Church, now home of OKKA Karate and the new before and after school care. Owner’s Fran and TJ Coakley launched their unique Fun and Fit extended care last September and expanded with a summer program this year. The project included modernizing the lower level of this historic building to accommodate the new programs, all with a commitment to keeping the warmth and charm of the original historic structure.
Tony said, “I’ve gotten a lot of fulfillment from doing these local projects. I enjoy working with local craftsman and independent business owners, they are both friends and neighbors. It’s driven Sherry and I to expand our business strategy to identify more local opportunities, which has also resulted in our launching of a residential division.”
US Construction Group recently acquired Dan Hall Electrical Contractors. The longtime Mullica Hill business that takes Tony and US Construction Group back to their roots, as the company originally started out providing electrical services based on Tony’s training. The new entity will fall under the US Construction Group corporate structure and Dan Hall will remain with the company and head up the electrical division.
Tony elaborated, “We are hoping to build a team of Journeyman in all of the major trades. Dan has been a long-time friend, we graduated vocational school together. Whenever I had work in the region, without hesitation, I called Dan. I want to be able to offer experts like Dan and US Construction Group’s Craftmanship to homeowners in all areas of construction.”