Cathie Anderson: Maccaferri expands at McClellan Park to meet need for erosion control in U.S.

Cathie Anderson
Cathie Anderson

Call it weird weather or climate change. Massimo Ciarla won’t debate you, just so long as Maccaferri USA continues to see its business grow.

Maccaferri produces steel-wire cages, mattresses, mesh and other products. Often filled with rock, sand, earth or other materials, the containers are in demand in hilly or mountainous locales where wildfires have stripped vegetation and root networks. They keep heavy wind or rainfall from bringing down soil and rock onto roadways or homes.

Ciarla recently moved into a 49,000-square-foot factory and 53,000-square-foot storage yard at McClellan Park. It more than doubles the space Maccaferri leased for four years on Morrison Creek Drive in Sacramento, Ciarla said. Maccaferri employs 13 people at the site, but will begin hiring to increase its production.

State transportation departments around the nation use Maccaferri containers to assist in rockfall mitigation.

“The rains, the snow, it all basically creates instability on the slopes,” said Ciarla, executive chairman of Maccaferri USA. “The roads have to be protected. The people in the cars have to be protected.”

In Gulf of Mexico states, the company also works to prevent beach erosion. Ciarla runs the company from Williamsport, Md. It is a unit of the privately held Italian multinational Officine Maccaferri Group, which grossed roughly 1.4 billion euros in 2012. About a third of that revenue came from environmental engineering units, such as Maccaferri USA.

With the leasing of Maccaferri’s new facility, located at 4242 Forcum Ave., Suite 400, McClellan Park has a 72 percent occupancy rate.

Lessons for life

Chris Ellicock didn’t just want to graduate with a civil engineering degree from Sacramento State. He wanted to be confident that he could put classroom theory into practice and then successfully convey his ideas.

That’s why Ellicock took part in a competition that had engineering students at his alma mater, Chico State, UC Davis and University of the Pacific vying to find the best solution to a single structural design challenge.

The 26-year-old Ellicock was a member of one of those winning teams a year ago. He and his peers constructed an asymmetrical truss, then presented their design and analysis to professional engineers for judging.

This year, Sac State won first place in the 2013 contest, the fifth time in six years that the Hornets have walked away with victory.

“These competitions definitely help you grasp what’s actually happening in real life compared to the theoretical predictions you’re making in your mind,” Ellicock said. “It also helps you be a better designer because when you’re looking at the piece of paper and you draw an arrow for a load, you can picture in your head how it’s going to react with something in real life, how this might bend or how it might fail or where the larger loads are going to be balanced.”

Ellicock now works as a project engineer for Magnus Pacific, part of a team reconstructing levees on the Feather River in Yuba City. He said the contest experience taught him things that are crucial to his work today: letting go of his ego, listening to everyone’s concerns, speaking with confidence, managing conflicts, trusting people you may not know very well, and visualizing the balance of forces at work on a single structure.

“It not only helped me get a job,” he said. “It helped me get through school, because I was hanging out with other people who had the same interests as me.”

It’s an environment that the most recent winning Sac State team – Nelson Tejada, Kyle Cameron, KB Khan, Leslie Fung and Max Hardy – also have embraced. They built a timber-truss structure and impressed a group of professional engineers who judged their project’s design and analysis.

Buona fortuna, Carlo

Hardware industry veteran Brian Mahaney and many other longtime patrons of Biba Restaurant said goodbye to a gem of a server, Giancarlo Albiero, when he retired in mid-November and headed back to his native Italy.

Mahaney contacted me to let me know that I had missed the boat by failing to write of Albiero’s departure. The beloved server, a fixture at Biba’s for more than 25 years, had already sold his home and moved by the time I got the news.

“Biba’s reputation is in no small part due to its staff,” Mahaney told me. “Among this superb team, Carlo was a standout. Cheerful, omnipresent, he anticipated his tables’ needs, remembered the regulars’ favorites, and made a welcoming ambassador to first-timers.”

Biba general manager, Scott Smith, told me that Albiero was busy in his last two weeks at the restaurant because regulars had booked tables to say goodbye. Smith, who hired Albiero, recalled that the slight-framed server carried a hefty résumé.

“He spoke five languages – Spanish, Italian, German, French, English – and he’d worked in Switzerland, France, on cruise ships,” Smith said. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God, when can you start?’ I mean, that type of person doesn’t walk through the door too often.”