Working for the company his father founded in 1989 in Fair Lawn, N.J., Warren Zysman, president of All-Rite Construction Inc., and his brothers learned the importance of knowing the right person to get a project done.
“For example, you need a particular expediter who has experience pulling permits in the city, who has a relationship,” Zysman emphasizes. “Otherwise, it could take months to get a permit. We work with the right local architects who pull permits all the time.”
Conquering hurdles such as permits and familiarity with local building codes is a specialty of All-Rite Construction Inc. because of its experience working in New York City. “That’s where we started our business almost 30 years ago,” Zysman recalls. “That’s where we cut our teeth. We pride ourselves on that type of work in New York City, and we do the same up and down the East Coast.
“We’re very well-versed in doing these type of flagship stores as well as doing quick turnaround renovations, open-store remodels and rollouts,” he adds. “Most have to be done in very quick timeframes. You have to be very well-organized and have the right team in place. A lot of contractors try to shy away from it because there’s a lot of unknowns and it’s very expensive to work in New York City.”
All-Rite Construction recently completed a gut and rehab for a $500,000 flagship Verizon store to highlight its new line of mobile phones endorsed by actress and singer Jennifer Lopez. “It’s a new concept for Verizon Wireless catering to Spanish-speaking people – ‘Viva Movil by Jennifer Lopez’ – and we did their first location in the chain, in Brooklyn across from the Barclays Center,” Zysman says. “It is a very high-profile store. It was a very short duration job because when they schedule grand openings, by the time you get to the construction phase, you don’t have much time left because of all the other commitments that go into opening a new store.”
Zysman estimates that the project in an existing retail storefront ordinarily would have taken seven to eight weeks to build, but because of the aggressive timetable for construction, the entire job was compressed into four weeks. The original floor finish for the store was a polished concrete, but because the store is located above a subway and the subfloor was constructed out of wood, a material had to be selected to withstand the vibration of the subway. Ultimately, an epoxy floor material was selected.
“Some materials were all outsourced from European vendors, which we had to get from overseas,” Zysman remembers. “With a short construction schedule, a lot of it wasn’t possible. So we had to look for substitutions that fit the design criteria, which need to be in place. When you have to hit the ground running, that presents some challenges.” A German manufacturer of lighting fixtures that the store’s London-based designer specified could not meet the abbreviated schedule, so a domestic substitution was made.
Despite the challenges, the client was pleased with the result. “It turned out very well,” Zysman maintains. “We now have finished a second store for them in Queens, N.Y., as well as more locations that started construction in September, and it was a great experience.
The project manager hadn’t dealt with the city of New York, so he had no idea of how many hurdles you had to jump to get a store open. So we basically took him through the process from start to finish, and that made it that much easier for them to understand and move forward with the project.”
All-Rite Construction specializes in building retail stores from Maine to South Carolina, and also performs commercial and industrial construction. Although most of All-Rite’s store projects are in strip malls or regional shopping centers, the family owned company also builds standalone stores.
“We’ve done store rollouts of GameStop and RadioShack, where they have a new concept,” Zysman notes. “We just did that for RadioShack. They totally redesigned their look, and we did their flagship location on Broadway in New York City.
“It was another high-pressure situation where we had to do a six- to eight-week job in three weeks,” Zysman continues. “One of our strengths is doing store rollouts and remodeling while the facility is still open, and getting the impossible done. What I’m most proud of is our long-term relationships with national retailers like AutoZone, Family Dollar, Claire’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s.”
“Our relationships mean repeat business for All-Rite Construction, and we pride ourselves on the service that generates such loyalty,” Zysman emphasizes. “We add only one or two retail chain customers annually. It has to be a good fit, because we commit ourselves.”
All-Rite uses its own carpenters on many of its projects, along with licensed trades such as electricians and plumbers. “We have long-term relationships with first-class trades in different areas,” Zysman points out. “That makes it easier to get these jobs done. It’s not like we’re looking for a new subcontractor on every job. In areas outside of New York, we have a core group. That’s another reason we’re successful. When you’re constantly looking for new subcontractors and dealing with the unknown, you usually have trouble.”
In the Cloud
All-Rite uses the cloud to access software to manage its projects. Change-orders, billing and plans are available online and processed automatically.
“We can access our software from the field,” Zysman says. “If a client needs something on the fly, we can generate it and send it right out. We pretty much have whatever we need. We have the scanners and the tablets in the field. As far as technology, we try to stay cutting-edge. We also have on our website a plan room.”
This enables vendors and subcontractors to access a project’s construction documents. All-Rite Construction also can update clients’ project management systems with daily construction photos and status reports.
“We try to get all the technology to make the client’s life easier and ours easier,” Zysman says. “You need that nowadays to be competitive. We’re in a great place as far as company size. We’re not really large, we’re not really small – we’re somewhere in the middle, and we use technology to our benefit.”
For the future, Zysman sees a continuation of All-Rite Construction’s “growth spurt” of the last five years without geographic expansion beyond the company’s footprint from Maine to South Carolina. “Once you stretch your footprint and become a national general contractor, that presents other issues,” he concedes. “We’re basically set up so if there’s a major issue, a project manager can jump into a car and get there in four to five hours. If you’re a national general contractor, you have to get on a plane if you don’t have an office in the area.”
Zysman adds that regional contractors can react more quickly to changing business conditions. “You can adjust easier than the national general contractors who have 100-plus superintendents,” he asserts.