Pathways to Leadership: Joe Torcivia '85

As a leader in the region’s construction industry, Joe Torcivia ’85 finds his Seton Hall Law degree invaluable.

“My dad would drive around New Jersey when I was a kid and he would point out buildings Torcon had built,” Torcivia recalled. “And when my kids were young and I drove with them, I’d find myself doing the same thing. We've been in business for 50 years now and we have built a lot of buildings in New Jersey and the northeast states.”

Torcon is one of New Jersey’s great success stories – a family owned business founded in 1965 by Benedict Torcivia. Started in Westfield with seven employees, Torcon today employs over 200 people and has offices in Red Bank, Philadelphia, and Puerto Rico. Despite ranking among the nation’s largest builders, the company’s family atmosphere remains. Joe and his brother, Ben, now lead Torcon and they literally work side by side: “We have two offices, separated by a door, and it’s always open,” Joe said.

Torcivia joined his father in business after graduating from Lehigh University with a degree in Finance. He developed a passion for the company during his early years, but soon determined that a law degree would enable him to contribute more effectively to the organization.

“When I started working at Torcon after college and began to understand the company’s operations, my focus became longer term,” he said. “I began to think about what I needed to do to fit into this business and what I could do to enhance our success. My dad had built this large construction business and had successfully diversified the company into several important markets. How was I going to work with my dad and my brother to continue moving the company forward and give my kids the same opportunity? While I didn’t have an engineering background, I knew I had an aptitude for this business."

"Law school for me was an opportunity to both broaden my education and hone my skills. When I made the decision to apply, I applied only to Seton Hall Law."
Joe Torcivia ’85

Torcivia’s Seton Hall Law career included work in the clinic, providing pro bono services for families, and representing clients in landlord/tenant issues in court. He also met his lifelong friend, Paul Deehan ‘85, in his first year, and together they embarked on a summer study abroad program at Exeter in the UK. He spent two years working for Crummy, Gibbons, Del Deo, now Gibbons P.C., and his summer associateship there leading to his selection as an Associate on the firm’s litigation team after graduation.

Transferring Lawyerly Skills to Corporate Leadership

While Torcivia enjoyed his first-year classes with Professor Elizabeth Defeis for Constitutional Law, Professor Margaret Gilhooley for Torts, and Professor Brenda Saunders for Property, he found Professor Michael Ambrosio’s first-year Contracts class most inspiring. “I knew there were certain things I did well and other areas where I wasn’t as strong,” he said. “Professor Ambrosio taught that we all have different aptitudes and talents and, no matter what ours might be, there is a place in the legal profession for every one of us.” For Torcivia, some of his strengths include analysis and negotiation. “Construction is a high-risk business, and it’s an essential part of my job to recognize an opportunity, assess the risk, and manage it. I'm not an in-house attorney; I'm running a business with my brother. But, because of my legal education, I am much more analytical than I otherwise would have been."

"Construction is also very much a people business,” Torcivia continued. “We rely on a lot of different suppliers and vendors, who vary from project to project and in each of the markets we serve. We also have critical client relationships, work with dozens of architects and engineers, and employ more than 200 professionals at Torcon. It’s not all about bricks and mortar. I developed many skills at Seton Hall and when I practiced law that have served me well as a business owner and as a manager."
Joe Torcivia ’85

Torcivia speaks with pride of Torcon’s landmark achievements – million-square-foot-business campuses in Parsippany and Princeton; two of the Gateway buildings in Newark, and strong relationships with pharmaceutical companies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson. He is especially proud of Torcon’s work on college campuses like Seton Hall, St. Peter’s, NJIT, Villanova, Princeton, Penn and Rowan University. He and his brother have sustained their father’s vision for Torcon: “Integrity was everything to dad, and it continues to be the foundation of our company. It’s not a coincidence that many, many members of our staff have spent most of their careers at Torcon. They’re proud of the way we do business and it shows in their efforts every day.”

Maintaining Close Ties to Seton Hall

In 2010, Torcivia was invited by Seton Hall University to serve on its Board of Regents, and came full circle when he conferred law degrees upon the Seton Hall Law Class of 2012 at Commencement. He is an enthusiastic Pirates fan, rarely missing a basketball game.

Of the many ties Torcivia has maintained with Seton Hall, among the closest is with former classmate Paul Deehan. Paul’s father, John, was a beloved professor who taught accounting at the Stillman School of Business for 40 years. In 2013, Joe and the Torcivia Family Foundation endowed The Professor John and Rose Marie Deehan Scholarship, awarded to a 3L with a demonstrated interest in business and tax law.

“Education was always important to my parents, and I found it to be instrumental in my life. I tried to encourage my own kids and am pleased that all three pursued advanced degrees,” Torcivia explained. “When I got to know Paul and his family, I came to realize how impactful his father was in so many lives. In fact, Torcon’s CFO is a 35-year company employee and was one of Professor Deehan's students. It was important to me to demonstrate to the Deehan family what a wonderful commitment they had made to the University.”

Joe and Ben have now welcomed several of their own children into Torcon. Joe recognizes that while his father may have laid the groundwork for his sons’ success, Seton Hall Law has helped Joe secure his father’s legacy.

"The transformation I experienced while at law school and while I prepared for the bar were literally life changing. Law school graduate Joe Torcivia and college graduate Joe Torcivia were very different people,” Torcivia concluded. “If it wasn't for the opportunity I had at Seton Hall, my life would be completely different in terms of my ability to succeed."
Joe Torcivia ’85



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