By adding skills and services, Borrelli Steel Fabricators builds bandwidth
Staying on top in an industry means finding clever solutions to challenges—and that is something in which Borrelli Steel Fabricators (Borrelli) excels. For example, the company evolved from a structural steel fabrication broker to become a structural steel fabricator and erector.
Not to rest on these accomplishments, Borrelli added sales of stairs and rails made of steel, aluminum and stainless steel. That product line complements existing services, which include estimating, design detailing and engineering, steel erection, steel bar joists and metal decking.
With 28 years of customer service, Borrelli has become well known for “tackling difficult projects that others in the industry shy away from. Renovations, building additions and complex projects are always a challenge we welcome,” says company President and patriarch Vincent J. Borrelli Sr.
The family-owned and -operated company, located in the Vineland Industrial Park in Vineland, New Jersey, provides a full range of design, engineering and fabrication services throughout New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Vincent began his journey in construction as a draftsman after graduating from Camden County Vocational and Technical School in 1979. He was quickly hired by Robert Paul at Paul Engineering/P-K Industries, Inc., an engineering and structural steel brokerage firm in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
“Back then, things were a lot different,” Vincent recalls. “You could do business on a handshake; your word was your bond. That is how most of our business was done when I worked for him. I developed relationships with many people—from suppliers to customers. Robert was a good guy.”
Through the years, Vincent advanced in the company to estimator, project manager and eventually vice president. When his mentor decided to retire, Vincent thought the timing was right to venture out on his own, creating Vincent J. Borrelli, Inc.
“Many of the people that I worked with encouraged me to start my company and some of the existing customers we had were willing to come on board and take a chance with me,” Vincent says. “I worked out of my home office for a few years and then expanded into an office in Berlin, New Jersey.”
In 1992, he started the company as a broker of structural steel fabrication and erection services. “Over the years, the business grew and we became known as a reliable source in the steel construction industry. We were hired for many significant projects and were known for completing work on time and on budget,” Vincent says.
“As part of our continuing growth, in 2002, Borrelli Metal Buildings was created. In 2005, we designed and built a new 13,500-square-foot office and steel fabrication facility, with the construction of our new space and the transformation from steel broker to steel fabricator, we used this opportunity to restructure and rename,” he explains.
In 2007, the Borrelli team designed and constructed a second building, which houses a 3,600-square-foot stair and rail fabrication plant. As business continued to grow, the firm added space in each building, increasing the facility area from 13,500 to 22,100 square feet. The firm also invested in additional iron-working equipment and additional overhead crane systems. “We really invested in the business and have been upgrading the shop with automation over the past few years,” Vincent adds.
Today, the firm fabricates miscellaneous metals including OSHA-approved ladder systems with and without safety cages, ladder step-off platforms, rooftop dunnage frames, rooftop unit frames (installed in existing buildings), existing joist reinforcements, pipe bollards, work platforms, boat ramps, protective window screens, pipe supports and custom fabricated weldments. Borrelli is also capable of providing and installing Unistrut framing systems and various equipment support structures often required in medical facilities.
“We have been trying to get into ornamental iron, too,” he says. “We are doing more handrails and stairs over the last couple of years. One of our goals is to concentrate in the miscellaneous metals field.”
Steeling the Future
“We are really striving to stand out from the competition,” Vincent says.
One way the firm is doing that is by getting the company’s facilities AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction) certified. “AISC certification programs set the quality standard for the structural steel industry and are recognized throughout the industry. Our goal is to focus on error prevention rather than error correction,” Vincent says.
“We earned our certification in December 2019,” he adds. “It was a longtime goal for us, and it took the effort of the whole team to meet the stringent AISC standards. We hired a consultant to help train our people, to assist with the paperwork and to guide us in meeting the objectives required to earn certification.”
Vincent says being AISC certified allows Borrelli to bid on government and military projects.
“We do a lot of military and government projects, so our experience helped us before, but earning certification allows us to stay competitive,” he adds. The firm has completed a variety of projects at Fort Dix and the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
Borrelli’s name recognition within the construction industry is another boon for the company, which works for general contractors throughout the Philadelphia area.
“We have done a lot of hospital work including quite a bit of retrofit and renovation work,” he recalls. “One particularly challenging project was adding a stairwell on a 32nd floor. We had to cut a hole and make a stairwell.”
Borrelli’s past work includes renovation at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and projects for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education facility (formerly known as the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center) and the Flyers Skate Zone.
Vincent is particularly proud of Borrelli’s work at multiple locations for repeat customer, Dietz & Watson.
All in the Family Business
Vincent is proud to have members of the Borrelli family follow him into the business. His nephew, Jay Price, is the Operations Manager. He joined the company as a draftsman and worked his way up through the ranks.
“My son, Vincent Borrelli Jr., is a Project Manager for one of our companies, Borrelli Metal Buildings, which is an authorized builder for two nationally known metal building manufacturers, and my younger son, Nicholas, is an Assistant Project Manager. My wife, Julann, is here a few days a week working with our Controller, Patty Lipshultz, on the payroll, insurance and balancing the books,” Vincent says.
“I tell my family, your name is already on the sign, you might as well come work here,” he jokes. His daughter, Gianna, who attends business school at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, works for him, too, during the summers.
The company’s Crafting Manager, Mickey O’Donnell, went to high school with Vincent in the same drafting school. Mickey worked at a few other places before landing at Borrelli.
“I’m fortunate that I have many very well-trained people on our team. We do offer training for our shop guys, and we bring in experts to do training in-house, including safety training,” he says.
The company philosophy centers around communication, Vincent says. “From the shop foreman down, if you have an idea that makes us more productive or better at our business, we want to hear it,” he explains.
The team has weekly production meetings to keep the projects on track and to determine how to correct or avoid challenges. Part of the quality control comes from employing skilled ironworkers, AWS (American Welding Society)-certified welders and craftsmen with decades of experience, he adds.
Beyond the workplace, Vincent believes it is important to be a contributing part of the community. He has been an active member of the Winslow Township Lions Club for more than 35 years and has supported multiple community projects, including food banks and eye exams and glasses for the elementary school students in the township.
Vincent also supports Veterans Haven South in Winslow Township. “As a veteran myself, this is a cause dear to me. Veterans Haven houses homeless veterans, so we look to help them out and sometimes get them out to go bowling, too,” he says.
He recently formed a coalition to provide a 20x20-foot steel canopy structure for the recreational courtyard in the Alzheimer’s unit at the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Vineland.
“Giving back is something that I was brought up with, and I’ve brought my kids up the same way,” Vincent says. “I started in the Lions Club as a young man, and I’m also part of the American Legion and The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America, most commonly called the Elks Club.”
In the End
Vincent points to an emphasis on client service as a foundational element in Borrelli’s continued success and its repeat client ratio.
“I once had a customer compliment our operations manager and project manager,” Vincent recalls. “He told me that he could tell from these team members that we have certain ways of getting things done, and he could tell that came from the top down. It was very flattering. We have a lot of repeat customers because of the way I was brought up in the business. Anyone can meet a price, but it is all about servicing the customer, coordinating the projects and doing the work honestly.”