The idea of working for a single company for an entire career may seem like a relic from a distant age, but it has worked well for Raymond R. Oneglia in helping guide his family-owned contracting business into the 21st century—and into its own next 100 years—while preserving bedrock values of dedication, loyalty, respect and consensus-building.

Under Oneglia as vice chairman, Torrington, Conn.-based O&G Industries Inc. has thrived and expanded beyond its home state to take part in major projects around the country. But the company has not lost focus on its core New England market, with Oneglia striking a balance between growth and keeping the company, one of the largest privately owned contractors in the Northeast, at a manageable size.

The firm ranks at No. 287 on ENR’s current list of Top 400 contractors, reporting $332.6 million in 2021 revenue. The executive also has been prominent in sharing his decades of expertise with peers and with the next generation of industry professionals.

The successes have made Ray Oneglia this year’s selected recipient of ENR New England’s 2023 Legacy Award. It is given annually to an individual in the region, which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, who has established a solid record of lifetime industry achievement and service to colleagues and community.

“Ray is a very focused, dedicated person,” says Kenneth Merz, O&G corporate secretary, who has worked alongside Oneglia since 1970. “He is always thinking about what to do next or what we should get involved with.”


Oneglia is known for taking a hands-on role in mentoring at O&G and in helping younger workers start construction careers.
Photo courtesy O&G Industries Inc.

Family Affair

To say O&G is a family business doesn’t do full justice to Oneglia’s corporate commitment to the firm—and that of his brother David and several cousins.

The company was founded in 1923 by Oneglia’s grandfather, Andrew, and business partner Flaviano Gervasini. Oneglia’s father, Raymond, quit high school as a sophomore to help run the company, and he and brothers Francis and George were devoted to O&G before passing leadership to the third generation, Oneglia notes.

Driving with his father as a boy to construction sites, Oneglia got an early sense of industry life. He worked for the firm as a teen during summers, and by 16 was capable enough to be a foreman and scraper operator on the Colebrook Dam project in Connecticut. He also admits to a short-lived adventure with the dynamite crew on one project that ended when a state inspector sent him home for being under age.

Ray Oneglia “is always thinking about what to do next and what we should get involved with.”
Kenneth Merz, Corporate Secretary, O&G

Oneglia graduated in 1970 from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., but there was little question of what career he planned. Soon he was overseeing a 16-mile sewer and roadway job, managing the reconstruction of Connecticut Route 7 from Danbury to Brookfield and running the repaving of I-84 from Danbury to Newton.

“It was just a passion—it was a total passion, and it is to this day,” Oneglia says. “I still get up at 5 and I’m in the office at 7.”

As he rose through the ranks, Oneglia began to push the company into new market niches, expanding a small rock quarry his grandfather had bought and acquiring other quarries and construction material yards.

Diversification has been good for the company’s bottom line, making O&G one of Connecticut’s top construction materials suppliers, with a recent investment in a factory to produce components for low-embodied carbon concrete.

The efforts also have harnessed the skills and drive of other family members to manage new units “so everyone has the kind of place where they could follow in a line of work behind their fathers,” Oneglia says. “I have a cousin whose father ran the building division and now he has run it for many years.” He notes another cousin who followed in his father’s footsteps into the firm’s asphalt operation.

The family approach, however, extends well beyond biological ties between various members of the Oneglia family. Across the firm at all levels, there are longtime employees who may be the second or even third generation of a family to work at O&G.

“We have had an incredible workforce —all union—and they have made the company what it is,” Oneglia says. “Everybody who has been with us for a long time, when they leave, it’s because of age or illness. We don’t lose [employees] very often. We have a company of very loyal people who have contributed immensely over the years to the success of the company.”


At age 17, Oneglia worked as a foreman on the Colebrook Dam project in Connecticut, which was awarded to O&G Industries by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and completed in 1969.
Photo courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers 

Safety Lesson

The strength of that bond was tested more than a decade ago after a Connecticut power plant site explosion in 2010 that killed six employees of O&G subcontractors as workers were clearing debris from plant pipes with hundreds of thousands of gallons of natural gas.

Oneglia declines to comment on the 2010 Kleen Energy plant accident, citing still active litigation with victims and families, but he acknowledges that the company learned hard lessons about safety over the years.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied $16.6 million in fines against the plant operator, subcontractors and O&G, which had the largest single penalty, $10.6 million. “We had a couple things happen over the years that were tragic,” Oneglia says, speaking in general of safety and efforts to reduce onsite accidents. “Could they have been prevented? You never know—you try and analyze” what happened, he adds. “We are very, very safety conscious.”


Oneglia (left) is a former president of heavy construction industry group The Moles, earning recognition in 2015.
Photo courtesy of O&G Industries Inc.

The lessons learned are key as O&G has pushed into new geographies and more complex project work. Oneglia led development of successful partnerships with contractors Perini Corp. and Tutor-Saliba, now Tutor-Perini Corp., forging a relationship with CEO Ron Tutor.

That paved the way for O&G to participate in complex projects such as a lock and dam in Louisiana, a nine-mile Chicago tunnel, a rail line through the Alameda Corridor in California and runway construction at Los Angeles International Airport. Oneglia is a board director of publicly traded Tutor-Perini.

“He definitely grew and developed over the years,” Merz recalls. “He was very good at meeting people and getting to know them and figuring things out about them as well.”

Oneglia says O&G has helped Tutor-Perini sharpen its pencils when drafting bids and provides a key financial backstop, which ensures that the California firm does not have to use all of its bonding capacity on a few projects. “None of the projects we have ever done with Tutor were finished late or had claims,” Oneglia says.


Oneglia, whose firm has faced scrutiny over past jobsite accidents, leads a safety talk with O&G employees.
Photo courtesy of O&G Industries Inc.

Community Impact

Oneglia has also assumed industry leadership roles over the years. His contributions include many years of service to the Connecticut Construction Industry Association—for which he headed several labor negotiation committees and its legislative committee and served as overall group chair. He also is past president of the Connecticut Road Builders Association.

A longtime member of The Moles, the national heavy construction professionals group, he was president in 1999 and received its member award in 2015. Former group executive director Tom Groark recalls Oneglia as a meticulous planner, “one of those contractors who thinks before he does anything and makes sure he has it all figured out before he starts anything.”

Oneglia, who says his father was also very active in the industry, takes pride in labor contracts he and other construction executives helped negotiate with trades on behalf of the Connecticut Construction Industry Association. “It was sometimes very time-consuming,” he says. “You could be there until 11 o’clock the night before.”

The executive has also been active in industry and union efforts to train young workers for construction careers, focusing on ways to remove potential job barriers for students in local high schools who are learning English. Oneglia has volunteered his time and money to support programs in local technical high schools. He also is dedicated to supporting veterans, having served in the Army National Guard and now serving as a board director of the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation. “It has been a very positive thing in my life to see what people do in the military, ” he says.

Looking ahead, Oneglia is planning the transition of O&G leadership, with seven fourth-generation family members involved in the company, including son R. Bradford “Brad” Oneglia, vice president in charge of asphalt, and nephew Ryan Oneglia, a heavy civil division vice president. Other extended family members hold vice president titles in the firm’s building, masonry and construction materials units.

“I think the most important thing is the full turnover of the organization to the next generation,” he said. “We are midway through that, if not a little further.”