Deric Cheng ’15, J.G. Petrucci Company, Inc.

My first day on the job as an intern for Jim Petrucci was an exhilarating experience. Prior to our first meeting, I was briefed over e-mail by Mr. Petrucci, and his project manager Peter Polt, over the proposal they were planning to deliver on the 31st: a 52-page pamphlet detailing a proposed deal with the Lehigh Valley Airport Authority to manage the disposition of 700 acres of property. This proposal was made significantly more complex by the joint nature of the project; J.G. Petrucci Co., Inc. was functioning jointly with four other companies to offer a comprehensive solution covering both the consultation and marketing of the LVAA’s properties.

Faced with the daunting prospect of interning with Mr. Petrucci during such an important proposal, I was initially intimidated, but my introduction to him immediately reversed that feeling. He met me at the Starbucks on Witherspoon and Nassau, and after a firm handshake, we headed off to eat at the Stony Hill Inn in Somerset County. Along the way, I learned about Mr. Petrucci’s background, and his interesting introduction into the real estate business. The current company, J.G. Petrucci Co., Inc., actually began legally as the Princeton Safeguard Enterprise, where Mr. Petrucci founded the current Safeguard program in Princeton University. Following his graduation, however, he revamped the company towards developing a comprehensive approach to real estate, providing both the designing and building services for companies needing buildings to function in. Over the next 25 years, he built up the company into an organization spanning Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with a focus in the Lehigh Valley, PA.

At Stony Hill Inn, we ate with Peter Polt, the project manager for the LVAA proposal. During dinner, he briefed me over the specifics of the proposal they were planning to deliver tomorrow, and talked to me about his experiences in college. His core advice to me? “Take advantage of the people you know. There’s no better place to network than college.” We also discussed his entry into J.G. Petrucci, and he explained the plethora of reasons he chose this company over Wall Street. He found the freedom of managing different projects, choosing his own office hours, and having the opportunity to try his hand in dozens of different positions for the company vastly superior to the tedious, single-minded jobs he would have found elsewhere.

After dinner, Mr. Polt took me to the Marriott, a hotel built and partly owned by Mr. Petrucci, where I would be staying for the night.  Right across from the hotel was the brand new St. Luke’s Anderson Campus hospital, a  project Mr. Polt assisted with. We toured the outside of the hospital, and I learned about the regulations by the government that determined the location of the hospital in the first place. “Real estate is 50% about dealing with regulations,” Mr. Polt explained to me, and the next day I would see that all more clearly. Following the tour, we went back to the Marriott and I went to bed.

January 31st, 2012

Deric and Jim Petrucci

The next day, I woke up bright and early. After donning a suit, I headed downstairs to the lobby of the Marriott, where the team assembled to deliver the proposal to the LVAA. From Cushman & Wakefield, a consulting company, came Peter Waldt and Steve Cooper; Bryan Oscarson came from AECOM to represent the company in charge of dealing with FAA regulations; Andrew Bennett came as a representative of Pennoni; and finally, Mr. Petrucci, Mr. Polt and Tom Shaughnessy represented J.G. Petrucci Co., Inc. After introducing myself to each of the team members, they quickly ran through the proposal and covered possible questions and their responses to them. Next, we headed to the Airport Authority’s office at Lehigh Valley Airport to deliver the proposal, which was a resounding success, though Mr. Petrucci ironically began the proposal with, I quote, “Let me start with the reasons you shouldn’t hire us.” Following the proposal, several members of the audience suggested to me that the Petrucci-led group was by far the best offer on the table, and that the other companies in competition had little chance against such a comprehensive plan.

Following the proposal, Mr. Shaughnessy took me to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in order to tour the old Bethlehem Steel Factories and the various buildings in development by Petrucci, Co. On the outskirts of Bethlehem, multiple buildings were being constructed by J.G. Petrucci, including one for FedEx and several shipment companies, and there were also several Petrucci owned patches of real estate for sale. While we were there, Mr. Shaughnessy filled me in on the history of Bethlehem; how it grew as the largest steel producer in the U.S. during the World Wars, and then shrunk as the steel factories were shifted to other areas. We then ate at Bethlehem Pizza, and discussed the expanding future of J.G. Pettruci, Co., a rapidly growing company with no signs of slowing.

Next, he passed me off to Ryan Waggner, a 25-year-old Project Manager for J.G. Petrucci who gave me a good look at the workings behind J.G. Petrucci and the actual construction process of its buildings. Mr. Wagner took me to go see a brand new QuickChek gas station in New Jersey that he was currently in charge of constructing, by managing the flow of workers and pace of development. On the trip there and back, he explained to me the logistics of being a project manager for a company with such a diverse portfolio, and showed me a potential career right out of college; a varied, creative job that required significant amounts of traveling and involvement in many areas of the company. Mr. Waggner underscored Mr. Polt’s assertions about the benefits of his job; they both seemed perfectly content with the freedom and abilities of their positions with J.G. Petrucci, and expressed their sincere happiness at being part of the company.

Finally, Mr. Waggner took me back to Princeton at around 6 pm. Though I was exhausted from the long day, I was sincerely happy with the people I had met and the experiences I had gained. From this Princeternship, I’ve developed a strong interest in the area of business; Mr. Petrucci showed me how a well-run company could succeed even in a harsh economic climate, and how his tireless work ethic inspired devotion from his employees. This experience has opened my eyes to the world of real estate business, and as a result, I’m seriously considering altering my primary major of Mechanical Engineering, perhaps looking more into Financial Engineering or a major that will put me in a better position to pursue a position at a company like J.G. Petrucci, Inc.