Monday, June 11, 2007

Mare Island Business Strong As Steel

Mare Island Business Strong As Steel
Family-Owned Firm Will Eventually Employ 100 People, Many Local
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer

Roberto Velazquez, shop foreman at Alamillo Rebar on Mare Island, uses an 18 bender machine to bend stock Friday afternoon. (J.L. Sousa/Times-Herald)

The sounds of heavy industry carried on the Mare Island breeze have increased since Alamillo Rebar, Inc. set up shop in April.

The firm, a start-up owned by a family with more than 40 years experience in the steel industry, eventually will employ about 100 people, many of them local, said Larry Alamillo, the younger portion of the father-and-sons business.

"We'll have about 20 people here in the shop, and about 75 iron workers in the field," Alamillo said. The workers are provided by Ironworkers Local 378 in Benicia, he added.

Alamillo, at 1101 Nimitz Ave., fabricates and installs rebar in a wide range of construction projects, from buildings to bridges and from public works to private jobs, said president Larry Alamillo.

"We bring in 60-foot lengths of rebar or reinforcing steel, via rail or truck from steel mills in the western United States," Larry Alamillo said.

When the steel arrives, workers use a special machine to cut them to specific lengths, he said. Those bars are then moved by crane to bending machines, which shape them according to job specifications, Alamillo said.

"The bars have an identification tag attached, they're bundled and loaded onto a trailer for shipment to a project," he added. "There, our iron workers unload and install the steel according to the design engineer's instructions."

The Alamillo family has been in the steel business for four decades, in three businesses in Napa, Benicia and now Vallejo, said Larry Alamillo, who grew up in Moraga.

This latest venture promises to be at least as big as the ones the family sold before, Larry and his father Joe Alamillo said. When the family needed a space to start the new venture, Mare Island's former submarine pipe shop fit the bill, the younger man said.

"We found this facility suits our purposes. We needed a big building, plus Vallejo is centrally located for our projects throughout Northern California," he said. "We like the business climate on the island. And the availability of rail lines on the island is a plus."

Lennar Mare Island spokesman Jason Keadjian said about half the island's 90 businesses are industrial and account for more than half the leased space there.

Alamillo Rebar signed a five-year lease with a five-year renewal option on 33 square feet of space, he said.

The family's been involved in some of the region's biggest projects, including the new Carquinez Bridge suspension, the retrofit of the existing Benicia Bridge and the BART extension to San Francisco International Airport, the men said.

Originally from Mexico and now living in Lafayette, the senior Alamillo said his two sons are the third generation in the steel business.

"I like the challenge. You're always doing something different," Joe Alamillo said. "We've been involved with many projects throughout the area, and it's satisfying to accomplish it and you can drive by it later and see the fruits of your work."

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

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