Blue Diamond Sheet Metal
No job is too big or too small for the sheet metal manufacturers at Blue Diamond Sheet Metal. Vice President Al LaBella explains, “All the jobs are important to us, we’ll do a $500 job or a $10 million job, and we treat both of those clients the same. All of our clients are important to us; that is why the firm has been able to stay in business for so long.” And the company has been in business for a long time. The firm was founded in 1983 by LaBella’s father-in-law, Bob Lawless, who retired in 2009. Blue Diamond is now owned by LaBella and his partners: Rob Belz, Steve Dimeglio and James Dvorak. The company services clients in all five of the New York City boroughs and Long Island, and, with a population of roughly 19.1 million people in the greater New York area, that’s a lot of potential clients. The sheet metal division is partnered with additional companies that encompass a 53,000-square foot facility in Medford, N.Y. Blue Diamond can offer its clients full services from a mechanized division, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) division, a tin shop, and a team of servicemen. It also draws on the resources of, representation from and networking opportunities through the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association of Long Island.
25 Years on the Island
The firm, which has almost completed its third decade of operation, is doing well in spite of the economy and expects to gross around $35 million in sales for 2010. LaBella feels the economy has changed the entire industry. “Everything is different now. It’s a completely different industry than it was a few years ago. The way you figure a job is different; the costs are different; labor and productivity are different; and your buyout is different. Nothing is the same as when I started working in this industry, and the economy has only made it worse.” Through its employ of multiple technical disciplines, office and field supervision staff and an in-office communications system the firm is able to keep most of the trades in-house. “We sketch the projects, we fabricate the materials, and we install them. It’s a full-service process, and each division has their own responsibility to the project,” notes LaBella. When the firm does have to sub out, however, LaBella relates that just like the company treats all of the different subs and vendors with the same level of respect as each of its clients. “From the guy who sells us equipment and materials to the IT guy, they’re both just as much a part of the firm’s success as the guy who fixes the fax machines. They’re all equally important.”
Keeping up with Technological Advances
With its team-oriented approach, Blue Diamond has felt confident to develop advanced processes for its 80-person workforce of designers, yard hands, journeymen and drivers to implement. Over the years the company has developed a specialized stainless welding technique that has made its services popular with varied clients from local hospitals, to schools to property managers. “In addition to our work with hospitals and schools, we’ve noticed that we get a lot of business doing tenant fit-outs. Like I said before, we’ll take on any job and do it well,” LaBella reiterates. The company also maintains a network of 14 Computer-Aided Design (CAD) stations so they can customize any size project that a client would like. One of the highest profile projects that the firm is proud to have been a part of was the facilities upgrade at the American Airlines terminal at JFK airport. In 1999, American Airlines broke ground on an eight-year-long project to build the largest passenger terminal at JFK. The project was a $950 million investment that required the destruction of two existing terminals and their replacement with a mega-terminal featuring 55 gates.
Quality Management Team
The management team at Blue Diamond is committed to keeping the company at the forefront of technology. Per the company website, “Our shop is equipped with a full coil line and three computerized plasma cutters. We pride ourselves with keeping our shop humming with the latest equipment available, including: the whisper lock, double corner machines, and computerized vane fabrication equipment, which assure us of top quality and timely fabrication.” The men and women who work at Blue Diamond Sheet Metal are lucky to have managers in place that really truly care about providing them the most professional operations experience. When asked what he worries about, LaBella responds, “The only thing I ever worry about are the employees, I’m responsible for them, and I want to make sure they have a place to come to every day.” With this commitment to the team and delivering quality on tough schedules, Blue Diamond will definitely be celebrating its 50th anniversary.
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