Chivers Construction owners (sixth from left) Emily Chivers Yochim, Ph.D., Tim Chivers and John Chivers stand with their management team and crew at the company’s headquarters in Fairview, Pennsylvania. Chivers has been a leader in heavy and highway construction in the tri-state region for the past 55 years. Shown are the company’s original excavator from 1972 (left) and newest excavator purchased in 2023 (at right).
BIG JOBS. TOUGH JOBS. DIRTY JOBS.
Those are the construction projects that Chivers Construction excels in and that the family owned Fairview, Pennsylvania- based firm, located at 6700 Tow Road, has built its reputation on for the past
Backed by its knowledge and skilled heavy excavation work, Chivers Construction is a well-respected general contractor in heavy and highway construction. The company has been at the forefront of many of the tri-state region’s public works projects, helping to build and maintain the essential structures and systems — from storm sewers and waterlines to wastewater treatment plants, pump stations, bridges, box culverts and seawalls.
Yet, “most of it you can’t see,” explains President
John Chivers, “because it’s underground.”
What you will find is that Chivers Construction was behind the “straight as an arrow” seawall construction near Liberty Park, as well as the massive West Front Street extension project on Erie’s Bayfront. In Erie County, the company was instrumental to the Avonia Beach Improvement and recently worked with Erie Water Works on its lead line replacement project. In the Village of Madison, Ohio, Chivers Construction recently excavated its deepest sewer line to date at 32 feet.
Chivers Construction approaches each project with a commitment to quality that is second to none.
It’s a testament to the enduring values of hard work, dedication and community. For two generations, the Chivers family has been building more than just structures; they’ve been building a legacy, and they’re doing it with a commitment to their employees that sets them apart as a premier place to work.
“All of the work that we do is for the public. It’s building infrastructure that makes people’s lives easier, and that’s really important work,” explains Emily Chivers Yochim, Ph.D., who heads the Human Resources Department. “It’s important to my guys, and it’s important to me that everyone working for Chivers understands the impact that they’re making on the community with the work that they do every single day.”
A FAMILY LEGACY
In 1968, David Chivers founded Chivers Construction with a bulldozer and his passion for digging dirt. What started as a one-man operation, installing septic tanks and basements for private customers, with his wife, Mary, helping with the books, has since grown into a thriving and well-respected excavation company that boasts 75 employees today.
The heart of the company, however, remains firmly in the hands of the Chivers family.
Since David’s untimely passing in 2021, his children — John, Tim and Emily — have begun a new era of leadership in the tradition of excellence set forth by their dad. Together, they form a cohesive unit committed to hard work, but extend that sense of family to every employee who walks through their doors.
“I think he’d be proud of us all working together,” says Shop Manager Tim Chivers, of his father. “I think he’d be proud of how we take care of the employees. I mean, he always put employees first, and I think we’ve continued that. Family business means all the employees are family too.”
At Chivers, taking care of “family” means providing employees with access to quality health insurance and benefits, and family sustaining wages to put their kids through college, buy newer vehicles and take nice vacations. “That’s important to us,” adds John. “We want our employees to have a good life.”
INVESTING IN EMPLOYEES, EQUIPMENT
At Chivers Construction, the owners understand that the success of their company is directly tied to the growth and development of their employees. To that end, they prioritize ongoing training, education and safety.
“Chivers Construction is often the lowest responsible bidder when the Erie Water Works (EWW) publicly bids infrastructure projects. Considering the 50 or so projects they have completed for EWW, they have always delivered an exceptional product that met or exceeded our expectations for quality and performance. They have a great track record working with our water utility.”Craig H. Palmer, P.E.
Senior Manager, Engineering Services
Erie Water Works
“We’re always reviewing photos and correcting things. We have monthly safety meetings inside the office and a yearly stand down at the Manufacturer & Business Association,” says John. “There’s no cutting corners. If it’s unsafe, we’re not doing it.”
Although Chivers prides itself on having many employees with 20 years or more of service, the company continues to search for new talent. To help with employee development, the company started Chivers U, which is a program to help all employees build their skills and meet their professional goals. The program focuses on training employees, building leadership skills and reinforcing safe and effective works methods.
“This is an excellent paying line of work, but some people don’t have the foundation necessary,” explains Tim. “They’ve got the right attitude, but they don’t have the skill set so we teach them how to hook a chain up, start a saw, hold a shovel because there’s a right way and a wrong way.”
Chivers continues to invest in equipment as well. In January 2023, the company bought its newest excavator, weighing in at 52 tons. The company also has a robust maintenance program to keep its equipment and fleet running smoothly and safely. “We’re in it for the long haul,” says John, “so we have no problem investing in the equipment to do the projects efficiently.”
“Chivers completed a very difficult and complicated sanitary sewer installation for us. The efficiency and expertise demonstrated by the entire team to a person was amazing. This project was crucial to the future of our Village, and we are grateful that Chivers accepted the challenge and completed the job on time and on budget.”Dwayne Bailey
Chivers Construction values its ties to the local community as well. The company recently partnered with Presque Isle State Park officials to help build a new nature play space at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in memory of David Chivers.
A few years ago, David created “Diggers and Dumpers,” a preschool field trip to treat students to a construction site experience. Children got to enjoy equipment tours, lunches in old-fashioned lunchboxes, and received their own Chivers T-shirts and hard hats.
Today, Emily Chivers Yochim, Ph.D., who left her position as a tenured associate professor at Allegheny College to contribute to the family business, is developing a “Diggers and Dumpers Day” program for northwest Pennsylvania with the National Utilities Contractors Association of Pennsylvania (NUCA PA). She’s also working to develop partnerships with the Erie County Community College and Erie County Technical School to foster and strengthen construction education in the area.
“Helping people to see the possibilities of a career in construction or a career in heavy civil excavation is one of our responsibilities to the community,” explains Emily. “The people who work at Chivers have family sustaining careers that they can be really proud of, and I want people to see that’s a possibility for them too.”
A GREAT PLACE TO WORK
Chivers Construction’s legacy is more than pipes and bridges. It’s about building lasting relationships, nurturing a sense of belonging, and fostering a culture of excellence. Their dedication to their employees and community makes them more than just a construction company; they are a premier place to work.
As the Chivers family looks to the future, their vision remains clear: to continue building, both its operation and legacy, one project and one person at a time. In doing so, they prove that the heart and soul of a business can be as important as the infrastructure it creates.
“I always write a gratitude list in the morning, and one of the things I wrote is, ‘I’m thankful for my job’ because I get to do cool stuff all the time,” says Tim. “I get to play with big equipment, and I’m outside. There’s a lot of freedom. It’s instant gratification. At the end of the day I can say, we put in 400 feet of pipe today, and I think that’s the best.”
For more information, visit chiversconstruction.com.