TOCCI Celebrates Supplier Diversity


Matt Chasse leads a Toolbox Talk during Construction Inclusion Week

We champion inclusion – everywhere, everyday, for everyone.

As an industry, we play an important role in shaping the cities, infrastructure, and economies. Construction Inclusion Week is an opportunity to highlight the significance of supplier diversity, an essential part of successful communities. For TOCCI, it’s not just about meeting quotas; it’s about fostering innovation, economic growth and equal opportunity.

By providing construction opportunities to diverse suppliers, we create an environment for different backgrounds and experiences to develop creative solutions. This can often lead to more efficient processes and better designs.

When TOCCI was awarded Courthouse Lofts in Worcester, we were completely unaware of the MBE Subcontractor, “The Masonry Doctor,” and they weren’t part of our initial construction team.  We had established that another reputable union masonry contractor with great experience offered us the best option. 

However, during the early stages of the project the owner, Trinity Financial introduced us to Robert Atkins, owner of the Masonry Doctor.  We were so impressed with the company that we developed a strategy to bring him and his team into this very complicated project. Essentially, any additional or uncontracted work that involved demolition or masonry we gave Masonry Doctor first crack at it.

The Masonry Doctor ended up with a over 19,000 labor hours. This is substantially larger than the other union mason’s final contract. Of that, over 20% went to female labor forces, 93% of hours were performed by people of color, and over 97% of their workforce was made up of residents- far more than his contractual obligation.

“He proved himself and his team to be invaluable.  ‘Yes. I can do that‘ was his standard response,” says VJ Tocci, TOCCI’s Director of Procurement.  From restoration and repairs the Marble wall panels that lined the annex hallways or at the main entrance the enormous Granite wall panels that were misaligned and structurally unstable to resetting granite treads in the site and landscaping. The Masonry Doctor even removed very tricky, unstable wall and brick chimney stack. Frankly, this project would have been more difficult without Robert Atkins.

When diverse businesses thrive, they create jobs and stimulate local economies. Small businesses, MBEs, and WBEs often face challenges that larger businesses do not. It’s important to be aware of these disadvantages and mitigate effectively.

Many smaller businesses do not have additional capital to front payroll. The typical structure of subcontractor payment schedules can hinder them from pursuing larger scale projects. At Courthouse Lofts TOCCI worked with subcontractors like Fisher Contracting Corporation by alternating our pay schedule to meet their payroll. Simplifying the process and making minor modifications may encourage broader participation.

Fostering a relationship with diverse companies can help build a stronger, more inclusive construction industry, and education is key. Educating your team on the benefits and positive impact of supplier diversity, using training to help debunk myths, and establishing and integrating goals into your mission and values make a difference. During this week, let’s recognize our diverse trade partners and commit to building a better future and construct not only physical projects but also a foundation of equality, growth and opportunity for all.