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Crew Connection—Robert Ricardy

A man showing his tattoo.
Robert Ricardy proudly showing off his Manson tattoo.

Growing up in a tight-knit Italian household helped Robert Ricardy learn the values of hard work, tradition, and family. Loyal and grateful to those he cares for, it’s the values instilled growing up that would cause Robert to put aside his dream to help his family in a time of need.

Robert grew up in Newark, New Jersey, where he remembers watching his mother and grandmother cook classic Italian dishes. “My family was all about cooking and everything was raviolis,” Robert says. “Food is important to Italian culture, and we didn’t hold back when it came to eating.” Every holiday was a special event for the Ricardys as Robert’s mother and grandmother would spend three days making 24 dozen raviolis for a grand feast. The family’s talent for cooking delicious meals would inspire Robert’s father to open three restaurants which included an ice cream parlor, a fast-food restaurant, and an Italian restaurant.

When Robert turned 16-years-old, he became interested in welding. He enrolled himself into vocational school and learned the basics of the welding trade. “I learned how to fit pipe, drill wrought iron, and other tricks of the trade,” Robert says. After attending classes for a short time, Robert left vocational school to help with the family business after his father was struck by a car. “I put everything down and went to help out with the Italian restaurant,” Robert explains. “Family is important and my dad needed me during a difficult time.” Trading in his welding clamps for cooking utensils, Robert would work as a cook for the next 15 years.

A man welding a cutterhead.
Robert welding the cutterhead of the RM WHITE.

After his mother and father passed away, Robert opened up Avellino’s Pizzeria with his brother along the Jersey Shore. Using the Ricardy family recipe, the brothers created a traditional Italian menu that became popular with locals in the area. Robert and his brother ran the restaurant for a few years before finding new owners. “I was looking for a fresh start, so my brother and I decided to open up a pizza joint,” Robert says. “We ran it for a while, but it got difficult to maintain so we sold it.”

Searching for his next opportunity, Robert joined Manson in 2017 as a third-party security guard for the Elberon to Loch Arbour Beach Erosion Control project in New Jersey. The crews took an instant liking to Robert, as he helped with various tasks on the project. “I helped the crew clean up the beach and also assisted with the fencing installation,” Robert says. “I met a lot of great people on that project and they made me feel like I was a part of the team.” Robert’s likeable personality and strong work ethic earned him another job at Manson, but this time as a longshoreman on the RM WHITE for the Cat Island Beach and Dune Fill project in Mississippi. “Manson Foreman Freddie Harriel helped me transition to Manson,” Robert explains. “This was a new chapter of my life as it allowed me to start fresh in a new industry.”

Proving himself to be a capable and quick-learner, Robert’s newfound success in the role allowed him to move onto other opportunities. “I started out as a longshoreman and then I moved to a deckhand on the RM WHITE,” Robert explains. “With guidance from people like Superintendent Blake Chouest, I was able to sharpen up some skills and relive an old dream of mine.”

Now it is five years later and Robert is a welder on the RM WHITE. Robert says the most fulfilling thing about working on the dredge is that he is a part of the RM WHITE Bull Gang. “We have such good camaraderie here and the team is awesome to work with. I’m motivated every day on the job because I work with some of the best guys in the company.”

Grateful for the opportunity to work at Manson, he credits the company for giving him a second chance to pursue his dream of welding. To show his appreciation for all that Manson has done for him, Robert got a tattoo of the Manson logo in 2019. “Manson has taken care of me since I got hired on and even gave me a raise when I never thought to ask,” Robert says. “This is the best job in the world and I stand behind Manson 100%.”

Whenever Robert is away from the dredge, you can find him testing out the Screamin’ Eagle 131 engine on his Harley Fat Boy out on the road. “I love taking a ride on my bike when the weather is nice,” Robert says. “It’s a feeling that can’t be explained, but it just feels right.”

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