Last week, Saugerties contractor John Mullen was in a ditch, digging a trench for gas lines. He can often be found on the job site, handling a pick and shovel if need be. This work involves replacing old iron gas pipes with new plastic lines throughout Central Hudson’s service territory, which includes portions of Ulster, Greene, Orange, Albany, Putnam and Dutchess counties.
It’s a team effort, Mullen says. “I’m so lucky to have guys like the ones I have,” he said. “Most of them are local. They shop at local stores and their kids go to our schools. I have a good crew working with me. You can’t be successful on your own.”
His company has expanded steadily over the years, Mullen said. “We’re working all over the state. We do a lot of work for utility companies.”
Central Hudson’s gas-line replacement is expected to take at least five years, Mullen said. The aim is to ensure reliable service and avoid the outages that occur when the old lines, some of them a century old, fail. The new plastic lines should hold up for the next 100 years.
Mullen and Sons employs about 100 workers, Mullen said. On the gas-line replacement, he has nine crews working to replace about 450,000 feet of line a year. Crews are now at work in Saugerties and Kingston. They will eventually work through the entire Central Hudson service territory. According to Central Hudson’s web page, the company plans to replace 13 miles of gas lines this year, the first in a five-year project.
In addition to the utilities work, J. Mullen and Sons has contracts with a number of local colleges Mullen said are constantly upgrading facilities and expanding. One of his sons is now heading a job at Vassar College, he said. Mullen has done contracting work for Marist, the CIA, Ulster BOCES, Vassar College and Fordham University. He has also worked on Marlboro High School, Ulster County BOCES and the Woodstock Day School.
In Saugerties, Mullen did site and foundation work for the Diamond Mills hotel, restaurant and conference center on Partition Street, the Boys and Girls Club, the recent construction of brick crosswalks at village intersections, and other jobs. “We’ve done a lot of good projects in Saugerties,” Mullen said.
John Mullen started working for himself, doing odd jobs in town, carrying his tools to a site and making repairs or small projects shortly after graduating from Saugerties High School. He has been self-employed ever since. “I did take jobs with contractors when my business was slow, but I always preferred to work for myself,” he said.
Mullen and Sons began in 1982, and has been gradually growing since then.
Family is important to Mullen. Two of his sons work in the company. John Jr. is working with Vassar College. Shawn coordinates the gas-line crews. Son Tom is a New York City firefighter; James is an Ulster County sheriff’s deputy, and Patrick works in the movie industry. Mullen’s daughter Mary is a student at Saugerties High School.
Mullen’s wife, Peggy, “keeps us all together,” he said. She’s a teacher at Cahill Elementary School in Saugerties.