Fire Safety Through Knowledge and Investment
Ocean Fireproofing blazes a strategic path to sustainable growth
While building a successful career in construction, Shaya Wahl recognized a gap in the industry and decided to act on it. He saw a need for people who deeply understood the specific requirements, materials and nuances of the fireproofing industry, and who could implement high-quality solutions efficiently, safely and to code—the first time around. And so, in 2013, he started in the fireproofing industry to fill that missing gap for customers across the United States.
Now a dynamic business working with major general contractors in multiple cities, Ocean Fireproofing continues to grow and evolve. Based in Lakewood, New Jersey, the company specializes in sprayed fire-resistive material (SFRM) and intumescent fire-resistive material (IFRM) fireproofing applications, taking jobs from the earliest planning stages through to installation.
“We work with architects, owners and general contractors to find the best products and specifications,” says Shaya, the Managing Director of the business. Shaya leads the sales and client care and is often monitoring job site progress and quality control, visiting customers or attending industry conferences, such as those led by the National Fireproofing Contractors Association (NFCA).
“I am completely focused on staying ahead of the curve in the industry,” Shaya says.
He, along with his key staff specialists, ensure that their clients benefit from having a team that’s kept abreast of the latest product and material information and up-to-date knowledge of building regulations, codes and fireproofing designs. They are certified installers for all fireproofing manufacturers in the U.S. market.
Knowledge That Leads to Savings
Yehuda Globerman, the company’s Chief Estimator and Project Coordinator, takes care of all inbound estimates scheduling and logistics for Ocean Fireproofing, alongside Staff Estimator Eli Wilhelm. Leading the field operations is Ocean Fireproofing’s Project Superintendent, Francisco, who ensures that the teams of 20-25 fieldworkers are efficiently mobilized on-site to suit their clients’ construction delivery timelines.
Shaya says the business is known for delivering high-quality workmanship and for finding solutions to complex challenges, often while saving clients time and money.
“We’ve found—through truly understanding the characteristics of the materials and products we’re working with—on many types of jobs there are often opportunities to change and move things around in ways that bring savings to our customers,” he says.
Investments for Specialty Jobs
In addition to covering a large geographical area, the business works across a wide spectrum of building types, servicing hotels, hospitals, government facilities, airports, offices, residential communities and manufacturing plants. The firm just completed six midrise self-storage facilities and is under contract for several more throughout the country; it has fireproofed close to a million square feet of self-storage space in the past year alone.
The business recently invested in a number of new resources to become better equipped for its next stage of growth. The company’s leaders purchased new, specialized machinery to both target specific job types and expand to other cities, helping them to continue to serve a diverse clientele and work for even bigger general contractors on more complex projects.
An example of such complexity is Ocean Fireproofing’s recent work at a fire-testing facility for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Using specialized machinery and products, the team fireproofed a building that was purposely designed to set aircraft elements ablaze. The facility was to be used to test how aircraft components would respond to the impacts of fire, and to test different systems for extinguishing fires within an aircraft.
“We enjoy jobs that are technically challenging and that allow us to test and expand our knowledge,” Shaya says.
Expertise in Complex Logistics
Ocean Fireproofing also recently adopted a custom-designed, companywide project management software that tracks job sites, materials, manpower and scheduling, and allows its team to operate over multiple projects with pinpoint accuracy and efficiency. This system has been particularly useful for demanding, logistically complex projects.
For example, the Ocean Fireproofing team recently completed a job at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) for international courier company DHL that, on first inspection, seemed logistically impossible. DHL needed a fireproofed podium installed over a conveyor belt system that would be used every evening to sort packages that had just arrived at JFK by airplane. The airport’s operations had to stay active during the renovation period, which meant that construction work had to happen in short intervals over a number of days.
The Ocean Fireproofing team faced numerous challenges to deliver the project. On top of having to work short shifts each day, at the end of each shift the site had to be cleaned top to bottom. And the workers couldn’t store equipment at the job site, so each day they had to pass through security clearance with all of their trucks and materials.
“DHL would work through the night to sort packages, and our team would come in the morning to do fireproofing—which is a messy business,” Shaya says.
“Every morning, each of our guys would go through security with their equipment, they’d cover and protect the conveyor system, and they’d have a short window of opportunity to spray fireproofing [material]. Then we’d quickly take off the protection, and make sure everything was spotless,” he says.
Also, if the weather was bad on the other side of the country, the planes would arrive late and the team’s schedule would be thrown off for the day.
But despite these and other project challenges, Ocean Fireproofing managed to complete the project on time, much to the thrill of the client.
“Providing that level of service wouldn’t have been possible if Ocean Fireproofing didn’t have the logistical and project coordination expertise that sets us apart from our competitors,” Shaya says.
Collaboration Sustains Growth
Ocean Fireproofing is now in a strategic position where it can continue to expand its services across the region. To support this effort, the leadership team fosters a collaborative teamwork approach within the company culture. The key company leaders, Shaya, Yehuda, Eli and Francisco, say they are completely invested in advancing the business—and they show this by supporting each other and doing whatever they can to meet client needs as the business continues to grow and evolve.
“We are currently doing work on the entire East Coast and plan to expand throughout the entire U.S.; we will be where our customers need us,” Shaya says. “We’re now structured in a way to allow us to be where we’re needed most.”