As the third-generation vice president of Piazza Inc. (Piazza), Joe Piazza believes in building a bigger picture. “We’re not just putting up buildings,” Joe explains. “We’re developing important facilities and projects for the next generation. From public libraries to schools and police and fire stations, we’re putting up critical facilities that make a difference in the community.”
The New York-based family-owned and -operated general contractor has been building with this mentality since Joe’s grandfather Giuseppe Piazza founded Piazza in 1982. “My grandfather started out as a landscaper and he decided to get into residential contracting,” recalls Joe. “Over the years the company has moved into more exclusively commercial contracting.”
As with many family companies, Joe had his foot in Piazza’s door at a young age. “I used to work throughout the summer,” he shares. “I went to college on a full football scholarship, but after I got injured I came home to work for Piazza fulltime.”
Joe now heads up the company alongside his uncle Nick Piazza, CEO, as well as John Piazza, president, ensuring business is done the Piazza way. The company resides in Hawthorne, N.Y., generally serving a 100-mile radius with the help of a dedicated team. The company’s work demands expert personnel and Piazza has a trusted team of 25 to ensure satisfaction.
“Often, we are involved in turn-around projects that require immediate service and working in around-the-clock conditions,” explains Joe. “Our large, permanent, professional staff is made up of highly skilled individuals who are committed to quality and performance and have considerable experience in diverse types of construction. Our team has the skills and practical experience to adapt to any type or size of project, under any deadline.”
Performing for the Public
While Piazza has experience in all types of commercial and residential projects, from modest jobs to multimillion dollar projects, the company’s specialty lies in the public sector. “We’ve basically touched every school in Westchester County,” says Joe. “From elementary schools to Middletown, Westchester and Newburg Community Colleges, police and fire stations, we’re trying to do the right thing by supporting these critical facilities.”
In February 2008, Piazza delivered a $21.6 million general construction contract for the new Orange County 911 Emergency Services Center in Goshen, N.Y. “This was one of our biggest projects we’ve ever completed and one of the county’s most sizable in recent years,” reveals Joe.
The new three-story, 90,000-square-foot emergency service center encompasses an auditorium, cafeteria, a 911 dispatch center, an emergency operations center and various government agencies. “This project was intense due to the level of security,” explains Joe. “We were responsible for installing retinal scanners, bullet proof glass, a large amount of concrete and a 50-by-50-foot wall of television screens for the dispatch center.”
From critical safety facilities to public buildings that improve and enrich the community, Piazza’s expert project management and delivery has contributed a great deal to the local area. “We also completed the $4.5 million Ossining Public Library in Ossining, N.Y.,” adds Joe. “This modern, three-story library includes state-of-the-art electrical and mechanical systems and overlooks a breathtaking view of the Hudson River. The new building consists of a café, a theater and a young adult reading room.”
Joe is also proud of the company’s work at the Westchester Airport. “We added a new level, including one side of offices and a public observation deck and waiting area worth more than $3 million,” he notes.
Cultivating Community Relationships
Joe says working in the public sector has been a rewarding experience for the family-run company. “Municipality and public work is great for cultivating relationships,” he explains. “We often get two-yearlong projects and then work with the same people the next year, so there are no mysteries. You know what to expect and everyone works well together to get the job done.”
As a general contractor, this level of trust is key. “We subcontract almost everything except for carpentry and Sheetrock, so knowing who we’re working with is a big component of our success,” remarks Joe.
While the public market has been good to Piazza, Joe says the company also has its sights set on obtaining more private clients. “We’ve had some opportunities to bid Pepsi Co. and IBM,” he reveals. “We’ve started looking into this more through the recession, because public work has slowed down. About 10 years ago there would be five or six other guys bidding on a job, now there’s more like 30 and there’s less work.”
According to Joe, one must tighten up the numbers to get through it. “We’re not making the money we used to but there’s a good chance for it to get back up as long as counties and states keep releasing budgets and projects,” he continues.
The company continues to focus on development that supports future expansion, as the third and fourth generation Piazzas step into new roles. After 31 years Piazza Inc. remains a trusted New York name for fast, effective delivery backed by family values.
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