ACS System Associates Inc.
Just outside of New York City in Mount Vernon, New York, ACS System Associates Inc. has delivered trusted mechanical, HVAC and general contracting services for more than 32 years. “Most of our work is in New York City and the surrounding five boroughs,” says Ahmad Reyaz, president of ACS. “But we’re also just a short distance from Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as western Connecticut and northern New Jersey.”
ACS leverages this local knowledge and extensive experience to serve some of New York’s largest customers such as: the New York City Housing Authority, New York City Fire Department, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the World Trade Center, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the NYC School Construction Authority (NYCSCA) and other public museums, major landmarks, institutions and more. ACS has made its mark by delivering this broad scope of projects from concept to completion, including new construction, retrofits and major renovations.
Founded in 1983, ACS started out in high-end residential and private commercial work with business based mainly on word-of-mouth referrals. In 1995, Reyaz, a mechanical engineer with extensive experience in public works, joined ACS. From there the company embarked on an ambitious plan of becoming a major HVAC contractor in its niche.
“In 1995, ACS was a $300,000 company with a couple guys and a truck,” recalls Reyaz. “Today, we have grown to employ 45 full-time employees and 100-plus field technicians. We have very high employee retention — something we’re extremely proud of.”
ACS now offers a broad scope of mechanical services, including engineering services for HVAC systems, emergency installations, design-build sketching using CAD and Revit software, feasibility analysis and estimation of projects, construction management and general contracting of mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.
“We’re just starting up on an 18-month project at the World Trade Center building complex,” notes Reyaz. “We’re overseeing all of the HVAC work and overall it’s an $11.5 million project.”
The government sector has been a major focus of ACS. Since 2011, ACS has obtained all prerequisite registration, certifications and prequalification with virtually every agency in greater New York City. During this period, ACS has done almost every size and shape of work related to HVAC.
“We’ve completed a couple of big projects with the Department of Environmental Protection [DEP], which usually present challenges in terms of the environmental controls and DEP-specific safety issues that need to be addressed,” explains Reyaz.
Meeting tight timelines and project constraints
Experience sets ACS apart in the competitive New York contracting market, allowing the company to meet challenges and constraints that often are part of the package on government and historic projects.
“We had a job with a federal agency to renovate the HVAC, electrical, lighting and sprinkler systems at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, Theodore Roosevelt’s home in New York,” recounts Reyaz. “The client wanted $1.2 million of work to be done, but they could not adjust the opening date of the site, so we only had about four weeks to get all of the physical work completed.”
The HVAC system update at Fort Wadsworth presented another time constraint issue. Before its closure as a military installation in 1994, the facility was the oldest continually manned military installation in the United States. It is now maintained by the National Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, which contracted ACS for the project.
“Again, we were given essentially six weeks of intermediate shutdown time between the cooling and heating seasons — an extremely short window of time — to complete $4 million in upgrades and repairs to the facility,” says Reyaz.
ACS has also completed a geothermal heating and cooling project for Battery Park City, utilizing coolers placed underwater in the Hudson River. “Pier 1 at Battery Park is a special challenge for us because we will be installing a river-water-based geothermal heating/cooling system,” explains Reyaz. “Geothermal systems save the client thousands of dollars over the life of the system versus traditional, and water-sourced systems are the most efficient.”
Keeping subs close
For the most part, ACS delivers full project scope in-house, with the exception of insulation and controls. Keeping its valued subcontractors and business partners in close communication on a project is an important aspect of the company’s success. “I think we’re a success as long as the people who employ us and the people employed by us — such as subcontractors and vendors — are happy with our work and payment practices,” says Reyaz.
As a specialized trade contractor, ACS understands the importance of careful coordination between general contractors, owners and architects, subcontractors and vendors. “Subs are an important part of the chain,” says Reyaz. “The work they do reflects on our company, so we make sure that all of our subs follow the same principles as us. Attention to detail and client satisfaction need to be just as important to them as it is for us.”
Great working relationships and the help of some stimulus funding contributed to the firm’s ability to stay afloat through the recession. “Stimulus funds made schools one of our main target markets that carried us through,” says Reyaz.
Even though the market has recovered, Reyaz says that does not make it less competitive. But ACS has prevailed through superior service. “We always try to be very thorough and responsive to our customers,” says Reyaz.
As a result, business continues to boom for ACS System Associates Inc. and the company looks forward to another year of steady growth and major market share in the greater New York Metropolitan Area.
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