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Rochester Top 100: Henrietta company digs its continuing growth

Rochester Business Journal
August 23, 2013

Expansion outside the Rochester area has given momentum to growth at the DDS Cos., the firm's leader said.
Both sales and employment increased from 2010 to 2012 because of geographic expansion, said Sean Donohoe, president and founder.
The Henrietta firm has had two satellite offices-in Tully, Onondaga County, and Kirkwood, Broome County-for some time, but saw a jump in jobs available in those regions from 2011 to 2012.
"There was opportunity to be tapped," Donohoe said.
Locally, the business moved in March to Hendrix Road from Commerce Drive, also in Henrietta.
A licensed civil engineer, Donohoe started DDS in his basement in June 2001. His idea was to combine a complete service offering, from concept to design to construction.
DDS brings together the practical knowledge of site construction with the resources of a full-service civil engineering firm. It handles all the heavy work on a project except building the structures. That includes grading, roads, utilities and other infrastructure.
The construction and civil engineering firm is composed of three entities:
DDS Engineers LLP, which specializes in site design and land planning services for commercial, residential and telecommunications development;
DDS Constructors LLC, which implements land development projects through services such as excavation and land clearing; and
DDS Utilities Inc., which does electric, communication and gas construction.

Donohoe-a 2007 finalist for Small Business Person of the Year-had worked in design and construction at companies including LaBella Associates P.C. and Ruston Paving Co. Inc. before founding DDS.
DDS has 290 staffers this year, up from 282 in 2012. Employment was 221 in 2011 and 197 in 2010.
Sales have been on an upward trajectory as well. The firm finished 2012 with annual sales of $50.5 million, up from $40.6 million in 2011 and $34.6 million in 2010.
John Nichols, president and CEO of the Nichols Team, describes DDS as a valued strategic partner. Nichols' firm has worked with DDS for more than a decade.
"We share a similar cultural commitment to doing the right thing," Nichols said. "Their integrated offering of value-added services, including civil engineering, provides us with a comprehensive resource for our customer's site development requirements."
Finding a skilled workforce is the firm's biggest challenge, Donohoe said.
"Kids don't graduate high school looking to go into the trades," he said. "That creates a shortage and a demand even at the entry level."
It also creates competition among employers to hire workers, he added.
To help, DDS works with the area's Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, providing internships and co-op opportunities for students. The company also has a full-time trainer that runs an in-house apprenticeship program to help new employees learn the job.
"We've really retooled how we are recruiting and have taken on a big initiative (focused on) training," Donohoe said.
The area's colleges and universities are a great resource for recruiting the company's technical staff, he added.
Donohoe said DDS will maintain the current scope of its services but continue to expand its territory. He is looking at growth areas in New York beyond Syracuse and into Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
"We're not looking to expand what we do but where we do it," Donohoe said.

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year's Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 6. For more information, go to

DDS Cos.
Design and construction of underground utilities and land development
2012 ranking: 41
Founded: 2001
Top executive: Sean Donohoe, president and owner
Location: Henrietta
Employees: 290

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