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Fort Lauderdale Dredging Co. is Digging the Stimulus

Cavache dredge boat
One of Cavache's dredge boats at work

In its first years in business, Cavache, a Fort Lauderdale dredging company started by two childhood friends, made a living working for developers, carving man-made lakes and providing fill for residential projects. But when the real estate recession froze that business, Cavache found a new niche — environmental and federal work.

Like other Florida dredging companies, Cavache is riding federal stimulus money projects to health. The market is dominated by large-scale operators such as Oak Brook, Ill.-based Great Lakes Dredge & Dock and Cranford, N.J.-based Weeks Marine, which have large Florida presences, and then falls off sharply to small companies such as Cavache and 3-year-old Piedroba Marine Construction, based in Coral Gables.

Anthony Cavo & Adam Adache
Co-owners Anthony Cavo and Adam Adache saw revenue rise from $1 million in 2009 to $4.5 million last year.
"The economy as far as the dredging industry goes right now is pretty good," says Lawrence M. Patella, executive director of industry group Western Dredging Association, which covers the Western Hemisphere. "During the past year, the dredging industry got quite a bit of funding from the stimulus package and in addition to that they got their normal budget."

After revenue of $1 million in 2009 as it transitioned into government work, Cavache posted $4.5 million in 2010. Co-owner Adam Adache expects to hit $12 million this year. He hopes to have 40 workers by year-end, up from five in 2009. The company's work includes subcontracting on the Army Corps of Engineers' Kissimmee River restoration.

Adache and Anthony Cavo, the third-generation of his family to work in dredging, met in kindergarten in Fort Lauderdale. As adults, they bought and refurbished used construction equipment for sale abroad. Several years ago, they rehabilitated a dredger, put it to work and used profits to acquire more. "We believe most of our work in the near future, next two or three years, is going to be government work," says Adache, 39. "I don't see a lot of private work coming up in the next few years. I hope I'm wrong."