Setting the Bar High
Barone Steel Fabricators, Inc. strikes supply/demand balance in NYC metropolitan area
Barone Steel Fabricators, Inc. (Barone) is well positioned.
In terms of legacy, capability and location, the company is uniquely suited to meet the demanding steel needs of the New York City metropolitan area and the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The company manufactures, delivers and erects structural steel buildings and other products like metal staircases and decking to any of the five boroughs and beyond.
That can be challenging. The greater New York City area has the largest urban landmass density of people and buildings per square mile —in the world. At any given New York minute, thousands of construction projects are active. Barone must match its opportunities with project fulfillment that relies on smart logistics, good communications with general contractors and great overall planning.
Timing is everything, according to brothers and Co-Owners Nick Barone and Ralph Barone. “We are a full-fledged fabrication facility in the heart of New York City that’s able to compete for very intricate projects and even react to changing job conditions on the fly as needed.”
Thriving in this urban work environment is no small feat. Most of Barone’s competitors are larger companies with greater fabrication capabilities. But, they are located in the suburbs or even in Canada and cannot serve the building needs of the metropolitan area as well as Barone, according to Ralph.
“We’re proud of our continued ability to compete while facing all the challenges associated with operating in New York City, such as logistics and operating in limited spaces, etc.,” Ralph says.
The company’s 30,000-square-foot warehouse is located in a manufacturing and industrial section of southwestern Brooklyn, but its very close proximity to the Belt Parkway (I-278) means the company’s crews can access any of the five boroughs or New Jersey quickly and easily.
Another clear advantage that Barone offers is that while most other companies either fabricate or install materials, Barone does both.
Once Barone wins a bid, work begins in the fabrication shop using engineering drawings to build the materials. The steel is cut, bent, formed, welded and assembled using both human labor and automation.
One Barone crew then delivers the materials, and another Barone crew shows up for the installation.
“For a lot of companies, the fabricator doesn’t work with the erector, but it’s different for us,” says Nick. “The left hand talks to the right hand; both sides communicate internally from the start.”
“When we set up a job for fabrication, we look at how to make installation easy,” Ralph says. “We incorporate that back into the shop drawings and also incorporate that into the fabrication process.”
Hard Work and a Dream
As the crow flies, Barone’s facility along the Port of New York and New Jersey in Brooklyn is just 3 miles from the inspiring Statue of Liberty across New York Harbor. Lady Liberty herself welcomed the Barone family in 1954.
The brothers’ father originally started a steel company in his native Sicily, but in 1954 their father and their uncle immigrated to the U.S. They started what eventually became Barone Steel Fabricators.
After Ralph and Nick’s father died in 1991, the brothers took over leadership of the company.
Barone still adheres to some of the earlier values and practices of the company that began 65 years ago.
Ralph and Nick split the duties of leadership. Ralph heads up sales efforts, while Nick manages finances. They combine efforts to manage production operations.
The brothers give much credit for the company’s success to their 100 employees who work in the shop, the field or the office. Barone is committed to its employees, their security, safety and training. The company’s investment in its employees is evident in its low turnover rate. Many employees have been with the company for a number of years.
That continuity and even extended family feeling benefits Barone’s customers when employees are called on to work as a tight-knit team.
“It happens daily,” Nick says. “Someone wants changes to a structure or a new structure immediately. We are nimble and we work closely together to make the changes and get it out to the field immediately.”
Nerves of Steel
Working in construction in “the city that never sleeps” requires special skills, knowledge and experience from Barone and its team members. Besides meeting the fabrication specs, the company must deliver materials to the construction site amid frequent traffic congestion and attempt dangerous installation work.
“We’re distinguished by the ability to know, understand and prosper on some of the more difficult jobs in New York City due to our abundant knowledge of crane rules and regulations, job site challenges and logistics,” Ralph says.
Barone’s crew built the structural framework for the addition of three floors on top of a townhouse to expand educational space for the Allen-Stevenson School, a private school for boys. The school—like most existing property owners there—had to build up instead of out due to space limitations in the city.
The work required various heavy-duty and gravity-defying cranes. Once completed, the school had additional space for a new gymnasium, an art studio, a music room and workshop, and a large computer room.
“A lot of other companies don’t do great on scope and complexity for these types of projects, but we’ve got experience...and nerves,” Nick says.
Barone specializes in all types of new construction and renovation projects, including retail, office buildings, residential, hospitals and schools. Serving a diverse client base ensures there is also more project possibilities.
Like the Allen-Stevenson school, many jobs in New York City require modifying and often expanding existing spaces. The city has an estimated 1.1 million structures and because of density, building happens on top of structures.
In Manhattan’s financial district, Barone added 200,000 square feet of residential space on top of an existing and operating office building. The six-month project required transporting 2,800 tons of steel onto the site for installation. With two cranes—one situated on the roof—the company facilitated the erection, which included the addition of new stairwells and an elevator as well.
The company used a similar installation technique for a project that involved adding a 5-floor, 200-car parking garage on top of a busy car dealership. Barone ensured the steel infrastructure could support the addition of concrete for the garage atop the Lexus of Manhattan building in Hell’s Kitchen.
“It was intense,” Ralph says. “We were dealing with the developer of the upper floors and the landlord of the lower floors, and we were told no obstruction was allowed.”
Barone landed a 1,200-ton crane on the existing top fourth floor, unloaded enough steel for five more floors and installed the steel around the crane.
The company takes great care to adhere to building codes and regulations for heavy construction work of this type in the densely urban environment of New York City. It’s what city officials expect.
“While construction is necessary for the city’s future, we will minimize the disruptions this work can cause by connecting with tenants, homeowners and other stakeholders throughout the city,” says Commissioner Melanie La Rocca, New York City Department of Buildings.
Nick says Barone’s record of successful construction projects time and time again in the heart of New York City is backed by both decades of experience, family-based teamwork, extensive steel expertise and attention to logistics.
“Our real proof is in the completion of some very intricate projects,” he adds.