David Shuldiner Inc.
A tour of David Shuldiner Inc.’s glass and metalwork portfolio would be a pretty comprehensive tour of New York City’s most iconic buildings. Since 1888, the family-owned company has been installing glass and metalwork throughout the city. It’s responsible for the interior glass at Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium. It built the original iconic glass cube at Apple’s flagship Manhattan store, and it helped design, engineer, furnish and install the TKTS Red Stairs in Times Square.
“We’ve been involved over the years in some of the most iconic and prestigious projects in the city, New York, and around the country,” says Brian Land, president and CEO. “We started in 1902 doing the Flat Iron building and in 1906 did the original Plaza Hotel. Then in the ‘50s, we went on and glazed the United Nations and in the ‘80s we did most of Battery Park City.”
The list goes on, and Land, who’s the fifth generation of family leadership, says he works hard to honor that legacy.
432 Park Avenue
More recently, Shuldiner completed the interior fit-out of 432 Park Avenue, the tallest residential building in New York City. It installed all of the interior glass on that building’s 114 floors, including hundreds of sleek and modern floor-to-ceiling glass shower units and all of the ornamental metal and glass in the building’s lobby.
“We’ve been involved over the years in some of the most iconic and prestigious projects in the city, New York, and around the country.”
At 1,396 feet tall, 432 Park Avenue is taller than both the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. Individual units started at $7 million, and the building’s penthouse units sold for as much as $95 million. Those price tags buy residents 10-foot by 10-foot windows, private elevator landings, heated bathroom floors and optional climate-controlled wine cellars.
“432 is a beautiful example of our work,” Land says. “It’s got a little bit of everything.”
The company’s long history with the owner of 432 Park Avenue helped it secure that project. “We have a long and successful track record with him, of both excellence and quality of work and the ability to deliver the project on time,” Land says.
Many of Shuldiner’s relationships started with Land’s father and grandfather, and like Shuldiner, those companies are multigenerational. “Those relationships endure because of the continuity of excellence that we continue to deliver from generation to generation,” Land says.
399 Park Avenue
Shuldiner is also in the midst of recladding the exterior of 399 Park Avenue, a 41-story office building built in 1961. The 399 Park Avenue building occupies the entire block between Park and Lexington Avenues and 53rd and 54th Streets. When it was sold to Boston Properties in 2002, for $630-per-square-foot, it received the highest price ever paid for an office building.
There, Shuldiner recommended a simple exterior façade design that allowed the company to furnish and install the job in a more efficient and cost effective manner than its competitors could, Land says. “We feel like we brought an expertise in design that allowed us to save the client substantial dollars and obviously won the day with him.”
Because 399 Park Avenue is an occupied building, Shuldiner must be respectful of the tenants and allow them to do business as usual, even as all of the exterior limestone columns are re-clad with aluminum panels and the building’s storefronts are replaced. That requires a level of coordination that the company has been honing for well over a century.
Top talent for top projects
Shuldiner’s work reaches far beyond Park Avenue. Other recent projects include outfitting 14 floors of interior glass at the new Condé Nast headquarters in the Freedom Tower and outfitting 12 floors of interior glass at Nomura’s North American headquarters located at Worldwide Plaza on 8th Avenue. Smaller projects include the glasswork at Ocean Prime restaurant in Manhattan and the chairman’s floor at JP Morgan Chase & Co. headquarters.
The company has worked all over the world, and if a project is substantial enough, Land says Shuldiner will take work outside of New York City.
Over the years, the company has brought more of its fabrication in house. That’s primarily to have more control over the final product. Today, Shuldiner has three 10,000-square-foot buildings in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Those include two fabrication facilities and one storage facility.
The company has roughly 40 employees in the office and another 40 in the field, though that number jumps in the summer when crews can grow up to 100 people. Land describes the company as “triple breasted” because it has such strong ties to the unions for glaziers, iron workers and carpenters.
“We’re very blessed in that, because of our longevity, we’ve established very good relationships with the unions, so we’re able to hand select our men, ensuring we get first dibs at the very best men the various unions can provide us,” Land says.
The company has strong relationships with suppliers, too. “We count on many of our valued suppliers, like Hi Tech Metals and Hildreth Glass, who open their doors for us 24/7 and provide great support to our team,” Land says.
Legacy lends confidence
Shuldiner’s niche—exterior cladding, monumental storefronts and full interior fit-outs—is not without challenges. For starters, because architects tend to get paid less for their services now than in the past, the downstream effect is that they specify products without considering lead times or industry demand. Building tenants also demand tighter timelines now. Often, both groups expect companies like Shuldiner to get products faster than factories are willing to produce them, and make up for their long lead time with increases in manpower to expedite the installation.
“This is a much larger business than it’s ever been,” Land says. “While it creates tremendous opportunities, it also creates new challenges.”
While some people want to be baseball players or football players, Land says, for as long as he can remember, this is all he ever wanted to do. “I think I recognized that at a young age, when I looked around the city and everywhere I turned, in any direction, I could always see a project we were involved in.”
There is a pressure to uphold the company’s legacy, which Land says he and partner John Toohey think about every day. It’s what drives them both to take on bigger and better projects and to deliver the “rich tradition of excellence that has become a hallmark of Shuldiner’s work,” Land says.
In America’s most expensive city for construction, Shuldiner’s legacy continues to endure, despite the market challenges it faces regularly. “One can always expect that,” Land says. Shuldiner will contribute to New York City’s iconic buildings long into the future and the Shuldiner legacy will carry on for generations to come.
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