Berks County News: Empire Group celebrates 60 year anniversary: 1955-2015

Submitted photo
This photo was taken in 1959, in a jewelry store in Allentown. Harry ìWhiteyî OíNeill Jr., the founder of Empire Wrecking, is in the center of the photo. Empire Wrecking Co., of Reading, was the first Empire company. Now the Empire Group includes six companies and more than 200 employees.
Submitted photo This photo was taken in 1959, in a jewelry store in Allentown. Harry ìWhiteyî OíNeill Jr., the founder of Empire Wrecking, is in the center of the photo. Empire Wrecking Co., of Reading, was the first Empire company. Now the Empire Group includes six companies and more than 200 employees.

Empire Wrecking Co., of Reading, was founded by Harry “Whitey” O’Neill Jr. in 1955 to provide demolition services to Berks County and surrounding areas.

In keeping with the changing marketplace and economy, the company grew and expanded to meet the needs of customers. New companies were founded to offer building products, transportation, environmental remediation, waste disposal and utility repairs.

Sixty years later, Whitey’s sons, Harry J. O’Neill III, President, and Todd M. O’Neill, Exec. Vice President, lead the Empire Group, Reading, PA, which today includes six subsidiary companies, powered by more than 200 employees and more than 400 pieces of equipment.

The Empire Group – Built on Family, Hard Work & Innovation


The O’Neill family maintains the traditions begun by “Whitey” O’Neill, and the third generation is represented by Whitey’s grandson, Harry O’Neill IV, who serves as Vice President of Empire Surplus Home Center, one of the six Empire Group companies. The Empire Group is an example of a family business that has achieved the American dream.

Empire Group is proud of their employees’ relentless commitment to hard work and customer service. When customers call with emergencies, Empire employees respond to stabilize and demolish buildings, to contain and remove hazardous waste and to repair utilities. The Empire labor force works locally, regionally, and throughout the Mid-Atlantic states.

The Empire Group, a privately held business, commands a large fleet of more than 400 vehicles and heavy equipment including: Long Reach Excavators, Vacuum Tanker Trucks, Tri-Axles, Roll-Offs, Walking Floors, Low-Boys, Flat Bed Trailers, Vactors, Tractors, Backhoes, Truck Loaders, Bulldozers, Skid Loaders, Roll-Off Dumpsters and Forklifts.

Empire Group has thrived due its ability to change and its pursuit of innovation. For example, Empire Services was the first demolition company in the area to utilize Long Reach Excavators.

The leaders of Empire are keenly tuned into the regional market. When they identified needs, they started new businesses to meet those needs. They salvaged all building materials before demolition, and sold the materials through Empire Building Products, founded in 1955. A few decades later, when most buildings were stripped of valuables before demolition, Empire Building Products evolved into Empire Surplus Home Center, which first sold surplus home improvement products. Empire Surplus now sells closeout, buyback, liquidation and running line products at the lowest prices.

When they saw a need for transportation, they started Delaware Valley Contractors (DVC) in 1990, a full-service trucking company. During demolition, they often encountered hazardous waste. This led them to open Elk Environmental Services in 1988, which offers turnkey solutions for all environmental needs. When they identified the need for a waste disposal facility, they created Berks Transfer in 2003. The Empire Group continues to expand and evolve to fit the ever-changing needs of our present and future customers.

Empire Group, a Reading, PA Success Story

During the past 60 years, many companies in Reading, PA, have closed or moved to other areas due to tough economic conditions. The Empire Group, however, has continued to grow, offering solid employment to thousands of people and supporting the local economy. The Empire Group is an example of a business success story from Reading, PA.

The Empire Group includes 6 subsidiary companies:

1. Empire Wrecking Co. dba Empire Services,, is a leader in the demolition and excavation industry in Eastern PA. From bridges to industrial plants, Empire has experience demolishing all types of structures. Clients include schools and colleges, hospitals, industrial parks, shopping centers, and residential developments. Since 1955, Empire has expertise in demolition for projects that require a high degree of precision. Excavation experts utilize state-of-the-art computer software to analyze building plans, resulting in lower costs.

2. Empire Surplus Home Center,, originally founded in 1955 as Empire Building Products, sells quality home improvement products at the lowest prices. Empire Surplus, located in Leesport, PA, since 1995, offers a comprehensive selection of closeout, buyback, liquidation and running line products, including but not limited to, Silverline by Anderson, Ashley Furniture, Mohawk, Yorktowne and Artesian Spas. Products include windows, doors, flooring, whirlpools and spas, kitchen and bath products, and living room, dining room, bedroom and office furniture.

3. Elk Environmental Services,, founded in 1988, is an industry leader in emergency spill response, environmental remediation, industrial field services, hazardous and non-hazardous waste management, lab packing, and safety and compliance training. Elk serves clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic states. In 2008, Elk founded its Oil & Gas Division, which provides the Marcellus and Utica Shale oil and gas industry with transportation and disposal of waste and industrial cleaning services. Elk experts include chemists and environmental scientists.

4. Delaware Valley Contractors (DVC),, founded in 1990, is a full-service trucking company, providing transportation of bulk commodities and equipment. DVC operates trucks throughout the Eastern half of the USA, and offers transportation for soil-moving operations throughout Eastern PA, NJ, DE and MD. The versatility of DVC’s fleet allows a wide range of materials to be transported, including hazardous and non-hazardous soil, sand, stone, salt and asphalt.

5. Berks Transfer,, founded in 2003, provides companies and individuals with hauling and waste disposal services. This unique environmental facility is built to accept 1,000 tons of waste per day and attracts customers from PA, NJ and NY. Berks Transfer accepts municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, liquid waste, and solid residual waste. Berks Transfer rents dumpsters and provides solidification of liquid residual wastes. The staff utilizes recycling, beneficial reuse, incineration and landfills to dispose of waste.

6. Delaware Valley Utility Contractors (DVUC),, founded in 2011, provides directional drilling, which causes minimal disruption during underground installation of gas, electric, water and telecommunication lines. Highly trained staff offer utility installation, emergency utility repairs, vacuum excavation, and certified pipe fusion. DVUC provides 24-hour service to residential, commercial, construction, industrial and agricultural customers.