“He’s probably still in bed.”
“Checked. He’s not in the kitchen either.”
Thirteen-year-old David was sitting in his father’s truck, ready to go to work with Gene on that spring day in 1973. The pair headed to Zartman Construction’s first job, doing a re-roof, where David picked up the nails that fell from the old roof and cleaned up the job site.
After graduating from high school, Gene worked for several other contractors, both home builders and commercial construction. On Good Friday in 1973, he left his job without any plans. After discerning his future over a two-week period he made the decision to start his own business and never looked back. He made goals at the outset of where he wanted to take his business with the knowledge to do the work.
“We started with almost nothing, a used pick-up truck and that was what started it all. I got started, and Dave helped a little bit at first, but he was only 13. Then I hired our first employee and kept on growing.”
Those beginning goals have grown into the company values: safety first, customer focus, integrity, proactive responsibility, dependability & reliability, friends & family, and passion.
“Safety is the top of the list,” explains Industrial Services Supervisor Eric Read. “Because with what we do, in a split second, you can be gone. Safety is number one.”
It is Zartman Construction’s philosophy to provide our employees with the safest possible work environment. The goal every day, on every job is for every employee to return home in the same shape they left for work that morning.
“Safety is very important when it comes to this type of work especially,” says Supervisor Bob Hoover. “In construction it’s critical, it’s seconds between life and death at any moment.”
As of March 2023, the team has over 365 days without a recordable injury and over 1,700 days without a lost-time accident.
From the very beginning, the customer has always been a top priority for the Zartman team.
“The emphasis is on the customer — getting done on time, we rarely miss a completion date,” says Gene. “Giving more than a customer asks as well.”
Gene developed business relationships with local businesses, many of which are still utilizing Zartman’s services over 30 or 40 years later. Over the decades repeat business customers have accounted for over 50 percent of our projects.
“I think a testament to why we’re around for so long is
because our customers continue to come to us and do more work with us, rely on us, and trust us to provide them with the best construction services,” explains Project Manager Daniel Zartman P.E. “That’s why I think we’re still here.”
Zartman’s success is rooted in open and honest relationships with our most valued asset — our customers. Close interaction with our customers, along with life-long relationships, enables us to achieve success on all levels of a project – quality, design, delivery, and cost.
“If you take care of the customer first, it’s easy. I’ve always felt that you have to do a good job first. If it costs you more than you estimated, it’s c’est la vie,” says President Dave Zartman P.E. “You’ve got to do right and treat the customer fair. That’s the key thing right there.”
The Zartman team focuses on maintaining positive relationships with our clients. The goal is to always provide high-quality services.
“I have had the pleasure of interacting with Zartman Construction, Inc. many times over the 25 years I have spent designing and constructing large-scale projects here at Bucknell University. They have never failed to deliver a well-built facility on time and within our budget. ”
-James D. Hostetler
Director of Construction and Design, Bucknell University
“When there is an issue, even 10 years later, we take care of it,” explains Mike Mattivi, Vice President of Construction. “We stand behind our name. If something is not perfect, we fix it.”
Everyone on the Zartman team takes pride in our ability to deliver high-quality, competitively-priced construction services. Our exceptional workforce is dedicated to excellence, and we are committed to being the best in our business. Our workforce is our biggest asset; many employees have built their careers at Zartman, and bring a variety of knowledge and experience to every project.
“We have a talented group of people here who can figure out almost anything that needs to be figured out,” says Ira Dewalt, Vice President of Estimating. “We aren’t fearful of tackling any project, it’s just putting the right team together to do the project in the right manner.”
Just as we strive to do the best for our customers, we strive to be an excellent employer.
“When we went in business, we always said ‘we’re going to be fair to the employees,’ give them a decent wage and share profits when we had them,” says Gene.
The Zartman workforce grew from Gene and Dave to the current force of over 100 people.
After helping his father on job sites during summers and holidays in high school Dave went to Penn State University and earned his Bachelor of Architecture Engineering degree. Dave also holds a Professional Engineer license, as does his son Daniel. Daniel and his brother Alexander both went to Penn State University and earned Master of Architectural Engineering degrees. Two professional engineers on staff gives Zartman Construction the ability to provide higher quality services with an
expanded breadth of expertise.
Currently, our tradesmen include rough and finish carpenters, iron workers, cement masons, laborers, and equipment operators. Our office staff consists of two professional, registered engineers, highly skilled estimators, and project managers, one LEED AP (Accredited Professional), and one Green Associate AP. We are proud of their work ethics and the quality produced by our team.
Gene may have started by installing canopies and patios, but he quickly moved on to the sales and erection of metal buildings plus new construction and remodeling of commercial-institutional-industrial buildings.
Approximately two years after starting the company, Gene bid on the first commercial, bonded job, which was for $13,000 to renovate the judge’s chamber at the courthouse in Danville. Gene recalls how he was tied with another contractor for the low bid so they asked a woman in the front row to flip a coin. She flipped the coin and it landed on the floor and rolled underneath the seats until it fell over and Zartman won. “By that time we had several excellent finish carpenters and we did that job with no problems,” says Gene.
In 1975, the first large metal building job was completed; the Brookside Raquet Club (present-day Hoopla’s) in Selinsgrove.
“It was unique in the fact that it had a gambrel roof on it, two slopes, so you couldn’t just use a crane and set the frames, the rafters, and the columns,” explains Gene. “I had experience with that before and I knew how to do the rigging to attach the cables onto the rafters so that the rafters wouldn’t twist and distort when you raised it to vertical. We were very successful in building the whole thing. It worked out great and it had no trouble from end to end.”
Gene’s one regret with that project was being unsuccessful in convincing them to add heavier insulation.
“But we always advocated more insulation than was needed because the savings go on forever,” says Gene. “That was part of our success, we always went with what was better for the customer. Sometimes the customer didn’t know it.”
“That’s how we got started in bigger projects,” says Gene. “After that, we got more and more commercial work all the time.”
Zartman began working with Weis Markets on store remodels in the late 1970s and has completed numerous projects for the premier grocery chain in the Susquehanna Valley.
“Weis was accustomed to other contractors not completing projects on time so on the first job we did, they didn’t believe us when we told them our completion date. They scheduled the refrigeration cases and all the shelving to come in three months after our completion date. So the store sat empty for three months because we were done on time,” says Gene.
“Early on the specifications called for the work to be done while the store was open, so we had to work sometimes over the tellers to get that part of the project completed. So I suggested to their construction management team ‘Why don’t we do that when the store is closed?’ Which they immediately approved. At that time, they weren’t open Sundays so we would start on Saturday at closing and work until Monday
morning when they were open in those areas. Sometimes we worked the whole store at night when they were closed. They benefited and we benefited because it was safer for their employees, our employees, and the customers.”
As the company took on larger and more complex projects it became obvious that to control project cost and meet tight completion schedules, Zartman should purchase a crane and other equipment instead of relying on outside sources.
Crane rental began as soon as the 18-ton Bantam was purchased in 1975. Our customers recognize the value of our commitment to being on-site when promised with modern well-maintained equipment and competent operators intending to provide excellent service. Crane and equipment rental remain a major part of our business.
Our fleet has grown to include nine cranes from 8.5 to 300 tons along with forklifts capable of up to 60,000 pounds as well as a variety of man lifts, concrete equipment, and carpentry tools. The crane and equipment rental business evolved into the rental of other equipment, which led to the establishment of Bear Rental. Bear Rental specializes in renting equipment to small contractors and homeowners.
“I would not hesitate to recommend Zartman for their ability and expertise to design and construct a facility. They have proven to be innovative, reliable, and intent in providing a quality product or service to their customer.”
President of Watsontown Brick Company
Dependability & Reliability
“Here at Zartman’s we definitely take a lot of pride in our schedules and our responsiveness,” says Daniel. Due to Zartman’s variety of capabilities, talents, and on-hand equipment, our team is able to mobilize quickly while still producing high-quality work.
Even though no two projects are ever the same, consistency in quality has been key in the five decades of work performed by Zartman. Our commitment to quality throughout every project,
from concept to on-time completion, including everyone from the office staff to field crews.
Friends & Family
“After 32 years of working here, I would never work anywhere else. You always feel like a part of the family here,” says Charlie Knarr Jr., General Superintendent. “I’d never go anywhere else to work. It feels like home.”
Charlie is one of 10 current employees who have spent over 30 years employed at Zartman Construction. Many employees have built their entire careers within the company, which is one of the things that Vice President of Estimating Ira Dewalt appreciates about being part of the team.
“Zartman Construction has been a valuable place in my life. I started working here as a young man and continued on,” explains Ira. “The atmosphere here and the family orientation of the business, the opportunities that are here for all employees to gain throughout their journey. I’ve been here for 44 years so I’ve been here quite a long time. It’s just been a great place to work and a great place to build my life.”
Ira, Charlie, and many others have started as carpenters and steel workers before becoming supervisors or superintendents then moving on to become project managers and estimators. Almost all members of the management team have spent over fifteen years with the company, most having never worked anywhere else.
“We were always fortunate to have a core of good people,” says Dave. “And if you do a good job, you attract and are able to hire good people.”
Family has always been at the center of the business, starting with Gene and David working side-by-side and now David working alongside two of his sons, Daniel and Alexander, and his niece Amanda Wolfe. But the feeling of being a member of the family has never been restricted to those with the Zartman name.
“The best part of working at Zartman’s has been the family atmosphere here,” says Ira. “It’s just a place that you can come and be part of the family.”