Liberty Contracting Corp.
Liberty Contracting Corp. (Liberty), an interior demolition company and container service contractor, maintains many of the biggest New York City high-rises for tenants. From full gut-outs to selective demolition, Liberty is there – nearly around the clock – when general contractors and real estate companies come a calling.
Founded in 1989 by Dominick Bullaro, George Fotiadis and Frank Cali, Liberty has been a preferred interior demo provider in Manhattan, its five boroughs and the greater Tri-State area for two and a half decades. The company is located in North Bergen, N.J.
“Like any business there are always hills and valleys but for the most part we do very well,” says Frank, who stresses the importance of how hard the team has worked to get where Liberty is today. “It didn’t come easy. You have to work for it. A lot of people today think they are entitled to things that they are not.”
An Efficient Operation
Content with the level of success that the company has reached, Frank, George and Dominick maintain Liberty’s focus on quality control, and not expansion. “We have no interest in over expanding,” Frank says. Already a large operation with between 200 and 300 employees in the field, Liberty keeps all three partners working long hours six days a week.
Above all else, the trio maintains an economical and efficient business. “Our 21-acre facility in North Bergen is home,” Frank explains. “It contains the office, mechanic shop, a concrete recycling operation and a transfer facility, which is leased out to Total Waste.” There is one Liberty location for everything, ensuring less overhead and fewer headaches.
Liberty recycles as much as it can as a member of the U.S. Green Building Council; employees extract the recyclable (i.e., unpainted) material, sorting and separating it from massive loads of metal, concrete, Sheetrock, wood, rubber, cardboard and plastics, among others.
“We have a railroad spur that comes right into the property off the mainline,” says Frank. “Cars come in, are loaded up and taken out. Liberty sends all masonry material – concrete, brick, block and asphalt – to the recycling facility Resource Management Technologies Inc. and construction and demolition debris out through Total Waste.”
As a union company, Liberty employs laborers through Local 79 and truck drivers through Local 813. It’s this team that makes the entire operation run smoothly. “We’re surrounded by great, hardworking people,” asserts Frank. “You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with.” Liberty laborers are highly trained, with certificates for all aspects of construction and skilled in the removal of mechanical equipment, tanks, boilers, elevators, escalators, bank vaults, facades and curtain walls.
New York Pride
“The lion’s share of our work [around 90 percent] is in the New York metropolitan area,” verifies Frank. Liberty’s interior demolition work in New York City often means an occupied job site, a residential or commercial high-rise, mall or institution half full of residents or tenants. The nature of these sites can also mean working odd hours – early mornings, or late nights.
Liberty takes pride in being able to work in delicate environments. Some of the most sensitive of the company’s projects include hospitals and museums. Liberty has completed interior demolition for several New York City hospitals, including Columbia Presbyterian, Mount Sinai, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, St. Luke’s, Roosevelt, Cornell, NYU Medical Centers, as well as Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History, Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim.
A load of work within the last year has come to Liberty as a result of Hurricane Sandy. “Recently, we’ve been very involved with Hurricane Sandy recovery,” says Frank. The Financial District of Lower Manhattan was especially hard hit; Water Street became not just a name but a descriptor due to extensive flooding. Liberty was quickly called in to help. Landlords of several high-rise buildings on Water Street have spent as much as millions per building on repair and renovation.
“We have been doing a fair amount of work at 55 Water Street, one of the biggest footprints in New York City,” says Frank. The building at 55 Water Street is the city’s largest office structure; a 687-foot-tall, 54-story skyscraper with a footprint of 3.8 million square feet. Commercial real estate firm NWSC is the exclusive leasing agent of 55 Water Street and brings Liberty in to prepare its interiors for new tenants, as well as for necessary repair and renovation.
Another Financial District high-rise, 111 Wall Street, home to Citigroup Inc., was damaged by flooding from Hurricane Sandy, and Liberty worked to get the building back in shape. Additional repeat clients in Manhattan include: 2 New York Plaza, the 504-foot-tall, 40-story American Express office; and Trump Tower at 725 5th Ave, a 58-story mixed-use skyscraper. In addition to interior demo in the New York metropolitan area, Liberty provides container service – mini, 10-yard, 20-yard and 30-yard – within the five boroughs.
A Lasting Sense of Accomplishment
When all is said and done, Liberty means a lot of hard work for Frank, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “It all makes for a long day,” says Frank. “But I just love what I do. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.”
There have never been any handouts for Frank, and he instills in his children and employees the same lesson. “I worked my way through college,” he says. “I did what I had to do. I started out as a laborer and I’ve been in the industry now for 42 years.”
With an undergraduate degree in economics and business administration and further studies in drafting and architecture, Frank invested in himself in order to invest in his company and his employees. In turn, he expects his employees to invest in themselves and in learning how to do things the right way.
“There are no short cuts,” says Frank. “When I was young I was taken under a wing and taught right from wrong. I try to give back and do the same. This means helping those who are starting out in their careers learn right from wrong in business, teaching the importance of negotiation and people skills, as well as conducting seminars at local colleges.”
Furthermore, Frank and Liberty helped found the Interior Demolition Contractors Association, a unionized association with 44 members at its peak. “I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish,” Frank says with a smile. “All things considered it’s been a success story: I’ve gotten four children through college so far, two married with two more to go. I’m still married to my wife almost 35 years; I’m living the American dream.”
It’s impressive, but Liberty is able to stand where it does today by understanding the importance of hard work. The three partners’ dedication to working hard is a constant, which will keep the work coming in for Liberty Contracting Corp.
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