Difficult Jobs Their Specialty
Mark & Son Metal Products, Inc., go-to company for challenging steel fabrication and erection projects
When a customer has a tough construction project that requires steel fabrication and erection, Mark & Son Metal Products, Inc. (Mark & Son) is the company to call. It has been that way for 93 years.
“We are definitely the go-to people for difficult jobs,” says Henry Marfe, owner and President of Mark & Son. “We have a lot of experience in moving material and doing difficult projects.”
For example, take the Merchants Square Building at 40 Worth St. in Manhattan. In 2008, the owners wanted to add a five-story tower to the top of the existing 22-story building. Space was at a premium, so Mark & Son workers built a monorail system. They used a crane to transport steel up to the 22nd floor and sent it on the conveyor system through the building and out onto the roof, Marfe explains.
“The tower was built by hand on the other side of the building,” he adds.
Another high-profile New York City project is the renovation of the Battery Maritime Building, which houses the Governors Island ferry terminal. There was nowhere to put a crane, as the building sits over a tunnel and the East River. The entire building needed reinforcing, and the developer wanted to put a four-story hotel and restaurant on top.
Mark & Son moved 650 tons of steel by hand, Marfe says, in a two-year project that began in 2016.
For a company that began in 1926 as a junkyard in Mount Kisco, New York, it’s a remarkable journey. Wolf Mark founded Mark & Son, opening as a scrap yard but soon adding a small miscellaneous steel shop, Marfe says. The son of Wolf Mark was Isadore Mark, who later owned the company with two partners, and in 1969 formally incorporated the firm.
Moving, Investing, Diversifying and Growing
In 1999, the company moved to Bedford Hills, New York, its present location, and evolved into a steel fabrication company serving the tri-state area. Its ownership has always followed close family and community connections, Marfe says.
In 1983, Jeffrey Herman, a family member of one of the owners, purchased a share of the company, and two years later, Jerry Marfe, shop foreman, bought out a retiring owner and became partners with Herman. When Marfe retired in 1992, his son, present owner Henry Marfe, purchased his share and became partners with Herman, who just retired at the end of 2018. The younger Marfe started working at Mark & Son immediately after he graduated from high school.
“We’ve had changes in the generations of ownership but continual growth,” Marfe says.
One reason for that growth is improvements and advances in the company’s equipment and facilities. For example, Mark & Son’s 1999 move to a new plant on Railroad Avenue in Bedford Hills allowed it to increase production capacity and fueled business expansion. The company fabricated and erected its own building.
In 2007 and 2008, two major additions of equipment further boosted the company’s production capabilities and improved accuracy. An Ocean Avenger beam line automatically drills holes in steel beams with speed and accuracy, Marfe says. The Peddinghaus AFTS 623-O angle line does the same for angles, the L-shaped steel pieces, and flats, pieces of steel plate that are used to connect the beams.
A sister company, H&H Erectors, goes to building sites and erects the steel that Mark & Son fabricates. H&H and Mark & Son employ about 30 people.
The Heart of the Company
Marfe credits the company’s team and its family atmosphere for Mark & Son’s long history of success. Key personnel are Josh Cohen, lead project manager; Donna Nelson, estimator; Dan deManbey, front desk manager; Luiz Lopes, shop foreman; and Diu Perira and Carlos Paltin, field foremen for H&H.
“These people are the heart of the company,” Marfe says. “They are great problem solvers.” Some of these employees have been with the company as long as 40 years.
The key to keeping valued employees? “Respect,” Marfe says. “I treat them with respect, and I appreciate the knowledge and expertise they bring to the company.” Key personnel have combined experience of more than 75 years.
Marfe explains that he never asks his employees to do anything he would not do himself. Of course, during lean times, that list of tasks has been all-encompassing. “During the recession, Jeff and I fabricated and erected everything—just the two of us,” Marfe says.
Mark & Son shows appreciation for hard work by closing early on Fridays several times a year and hosting a barbecue with the employees back at the shop. During the World Cup soccer event, a 46-inch television was set up outside so the group could watch the games.
Marfe’s bulldog, Rocky, comes to work with him every day and greets customers as they come in.
Finding Success in a Long-term Partnership
Marfe also points to his long-term partnership with Jeffrey Herman as a factor in the venture’s success. The two were business partners for 33 years and never had a conflict, Marfe says. “We always had the mindset of making decisions that are good for everybody. My thanks go to Jeff for all the years of being together and the value he brought to the company.”
The teamwork, advanced equipment and organizational skill all combine to make Mark & Son successful in a competitive field.
“We plan and execute very well, and we always hit our schedules,” Marfe says. “That’s important to our customers.”
Very few steel fabricators have the longevity Mark & Son has attained, surviving recessions and the cyclical nature of the construction industry.
The company never changed its name from the original Mark & Son. “There’s respect in the name, earned by many different owners throughout the years,” Marfe says, a value that no amount of marketing dollars could buy.
Through it all, Mark & Son Metal Products, Inc. has stayed consistent in its commitment to excellent service, accurately fabricated material, timely delivery and technical support for all products. And the company clearly relishes taking on those challenging projects.
As it nears the end of its first century, Mark & Son is looking to expand, checking out new equipment and looking for new and better ways to execute its work of steel fabrication and erection.