A Brief History of Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC

Last month marked 13 years since our CEO, Robert M. Bolton, purchased Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC. Since then, the company has grown in size and capacity to become the largest mechanical contractor in Rhode Island, employing over 175 people. In honor of Throwback Thursday, we’d like to share a brief history of how Arden Engineering came to be.

The following narrative originally appeared in the 2004 publication Rhode Island: The Ocean State by George H. Kellner and J. Stanley Lemons.

Irwin Arden
Irwin Arden

Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC (originally called Arden Engineering Company, Inc.) was founded in Providence in 1954 by Irwin Arden. Today, the company remains family-owned. Under the capable leadership of Robert M. Bolton, it is a highly respected full-service mechanical and electrical contractor that can handle the installation and maintenance of all critical functions in both newly constructed and renovated buildings. Now located in Pawtucket, Arden’s philosophy is the same today as it was back in 1954: All work performed is based on the concept that creativity and innovation must always be linked to technical know-how. This underlying principle continues to serve as Arden Engineering Constructors’ key to success.

Under the initial leadership of Irwin Arden, the company operated as both a mechanical and general contractor. In the early 1960s two individuals joined the company who would play significant roles in its future. Andrew (Andy) Port, Arden’s son-in-law, joined the company working in the accounting department and would eventually go on to oversee all of its financial aspects. At approximately the same time, Robert H. Bolton joined Arden working as a union pipe fitter. By 1964 he had become a junior project manager on a major construction project at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland. Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s Arden aggressively increased its presence beyond the New England states by developing additional construction projects in Greenland, Newfoundland, and the Caribbean. With the success of the Thule project, Bolton continued as project manager, overseeing many of the company’s international projects, including those in Puerto Rico.

During the mid-1960s, Arden’s son Peter also joined the company after returning from military service as an officer in the United States Navy Air Corp. When Irwin died unexpectedly in 1969, Peter, also a talented engineer, became company president. Andy Port was named Vice President and Robert H. Bolton was appointed general manager. Over the next 15 years, Peter focused the company toward mechanical construction. Although computers were still in their infancy during the 1970s, Peter decided to invest in this excited new world of technology. A Burroughs mainframe computer was purchased to streamline job costs, accounting and estimating procedures. Punch cards and 12” tape drives were everywhere.

As the company continued to grow and prosper during the late 1970s, Peter Arden was named chairman, Andy Port became president, and Robert H. Bolton became vice president. In 1980 Bolton was promoted to executive vice president, while appointing Carmine J. Puniello, Steven Arden, and Michael Sweeney as vice presidents.

Puniello, who joined the company in the mid-1960s, brought to Arden his strong engineering background in the areas of Power Piping and Process Systems, which allowed the company to pursue new projects in these fields. Over time, he would create Arden’s Quality Assurance program that eventually led to the company’s ASME certifications. John Puniello, Carmine’s son, also joined the Arden team after graduating from Rhode Island’s Roger Williams College, and has steadily worked his way up through the ranks to become a project manager.

Robert H. Bolton (left) and Carmine J. Puniello (right).
Robert H. Bolton (left) and Carmine J. Puniello (right).

In 1985 Peter Arden offered Robert H. Bolton a well-deserved opportunity to purchase certain assets of the company. On January 1, 1986 Bolton partnered with Puniello to form Arden Engineering Constructors, Inc. This newly reorganized company then continued to focus its core competencies in three main sectors: HVAC, industrial/power, and environmental applications.

By the early 1990s Bolton’s son, Robert M. (Bob) Bolton, who had been working at Arden since he was a teenager, was named vice-president. The younger Bolton, who received his mechanical engineering degree from Roger Williams College, immediately moved the company into a new line of business. He created the innovative on-site building service and maintenance division that is offered to all Arden clients. Bolton’s vision of a building maintenance division has proved to be a sound business decision, as it has become one of the company’s more successful divisions in just a few short years. Michael Sullivan, who has been with Arden since 1998, is vice president of building services.

On January 1, 1999 Arden was sold to PSEG Energy Technologies, Inc., a business unit of Public Service Enterprise Group of New Jersey. However, this acquisition proved to be a short-lived chapter in Arden’s history. During the second half of 2002, PSEG decided to exit the mechanical construction market. On April 18, 2003, Bob Bolton purchased the company back from PSEG. The newly invigorated business operates under the banner of Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC – and is stronger than ever.