Liberty Mechanical Contractors LLC
Michael Contillo founded Liberty Mechanical Contractors LLC (Liberty) in 1968, and the company has since grown to be one of largest and most respected mechanical contractors in New York City. From its humble beginning working out of a small storefront on Castle Hill Avenue in the Bronx, Liberty has become one of the industry’s preeminent contractors.
Early on, Contillo and his partner established a reputation for quality craftsmanship and professionalism, which has stayed with the company for nearly 45 years. Liberty boasts a continued commitment to performance, and is now poised to be the leading mechanical contractor both at the jobsite and in the back office with its investment in 3-D drafting.
Allan Sussman, CFO of Liberty, has been with the business for over 25 years. Sussman, Werner Debis, project manager and designer; Richard Radliff, vice president; and Mark Kostakis, virtual plumbing design and BIM coordination, form Liberty’s management team that ensures the company continues to operate as the premier mechanical contractor in New York City.
“We do a lot of design engineering here,” explains Radliff. “We sit down with architects and owners and help them redesign layouts to meet their needs. This greatly reduces construction costs, and we see fewer change orders because of this process.”
Liberty has maintained success by bringing advanced technology to the industry. The company has positioned itself as one of only a few mechanical contractors in New York City to utilize 3-D drafting.
Planning for Success
Three-dimensional drafting has become a major component in the company’s ability to compete in the Big Apple. The technological aspect of the company’s business is expensive, but has allowed the team to break into a new niche, designing complex projects.
“It allows us to figure out which of the other trades will run into problems ahead of time,” adds Kostakis. “We can fix these before construction even begins. It’s a little more expensive to start with, but this technology saves clients a lot of money in the end.”
Despite high involvement in the planning and technological end of the business, Liberty is still able to self-perform 90 percent of the work on these massive undertakings. “The only trades we subcontract are connecting sewer and water mains and pipe insulation,” says Sussman. “Other than that, we do everything.”
With a team of 350, the company is well-positioned to take advantage of lower costs through in-house work, as well as the quality control that comes from relying on fewer subcontractors. When Liberty does reach out, the company has established a network of reliable subcontractors that the team has worked with previously.
The projects Liberty takes on are generally in the commercial sector, and have included medical facilities, condos and apartment buildings. The company is currently involved in a massive condominium project, Carnegie Towers, which is making an impact as one of the most expensive residential buildings in the city’s history.
The team broke ground on the project in late 2011, and the building is scheduled for completion around the end of 2013. The team is also currently on the site of Weil Cornell Medical Center and the Throggs Neck Retail Mall, the first shopping center of its kind in the Bronx.
Restructured for Recovery
The recent recession has impacted many contractors across the country, and Liberty has faced challenges associated with the changing market. “We got caught up in the downturn,” Sussman explains. “We went from over 500 employees down to 150 because there just wasn’t any work in the city.”
The Liberty team took advantage of the slowdown by planning for the future, as the team invested heavily in technology that would set the company ahead of its competition. “We reengineered ourselves with 3-D drafting while we were slow and our staff had the time to learn the details of the software,” expounded Contillo. “We saw 3-D drafting as where the market was heading and positioned ourselves to be ready when the economy turned around.”
The investment has paid off, and the company continues to grow steadily. “We expect as the economy keeps going that we’ll see a lot of major jobs in the high-end industry,” says Contillo “New York is always rebuilding. We’re also working on doing more in the Bronx, and we’ve been active in real estate development. We’re helping our local neighborhood become a major commercial and retail center.
Contillo and the rest of the executive team at Liberty have worked hard to build a better market position for the business. Through smart investments that maximize capabilities and not overhead, Liberty is partaking in a major recovery. The company’s new skills are getting Liberty projects, as many competitors have failed to keep up with the direction of the industry. The company continues to offer the craftsmanship and professionalism that clients have come to expect, but with high-tech capabilities that add value to customer investments and secures Liberty Mechanical Contractors LLC’s success.
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