Man With a Vision
Paladino Construction Enterprises’ leader took on Greater New York City—and succeeded
In 1940, Michael Paladino founded Paladino Construction Enterprises Inc., a small contracting business that served the local community, based in Brooklyn, New York. Michael, along with a couple of helpers, would take on small construction jobs—repairing or replacing stoops and sidewalks and installing new patios for his friends and neighbors.
Michael’s parents were Italian immigrants, and he raised his family with a strong sense of cultural values and traditions. More than anything, Michael was known for his generous nature. If his elderly neighbor asked for a discount, he wouldn’t hesitate to work for a reduced price. If the family down the road was struggling for money, he wouldn’t bother trying to collect after he finished a job.
In 1965, and while only in his mid-40s, Michael passed away. He left behind a wife, five children and a business heavily in debt.
A Son Steps In
Michael’s oldest son, Frank, first started working with his father after school at age 8. By 13, Frank could do anything a construction worker could do, mixing concrete, performing heavy labor and driving a truck. Frank was only 18 when his father passed away, and it was Frank who stepped in to take care of his mother and siblings.
Frank started by trying to collect on his father’s outstanding accounts, an effort that was largely unsuccessful. To finally pay off the family debt, Frank knew he would just have to find larger jobs than his father had worked. He hired one helper and went around the neighborhood, trying to win new work. Unable to afford new machinery or trucks, Frank worked by hand. Each week, he would hand his entire earnings over to his mother to support the family.
Frank knew he needed a major change of fortune in order to support a family of his own one day, while also taking care of his mother and siblings. He had a big vision for his business, and he decided to test it.
When his father was still alive, Frank would try to convince him to expand their business over the bridge to Manhattan. Frank was keen to take on bigger, more high-profile projects, but to his frustration, his father always refused because he didn’t want to deal with the traffic and the stress of working in the big city.
Now finding himself in charge of his own future and fate, Frank was ready to take the leap. He began to advertise his business in Manhattan, and he managed to win his first project there in 1966.
Over the course of a few short years, Frank won many more projects in Manhattan. To take on these large projects, he started buying the necessary equipment, several trucks and his own roll-off containers. In time, he created his own equipment rental company, with three store locations. He hired more men and specialized in large commercial projects, specifically plazas, distinctive sidewalks and sidewalk vault restorations.
Passion and Hard Work
In 1984, Frank met Maria Regina, fell in love and got engaged. Trained as an interior designer, Maria was eager to start her own business, but she agreed to work for Frank. For seven years she served as the company’s secretary and office manager.
These days, Maria works from home, running her own interior design business as well as still overseeing the company’s paperwork. She works hard, but she says that no one works harder than her husband, Frank.
“Frank’s the type of guy that when he comes home he’s as dirty as his men,” Maria says. “If he sees that they are shorthanded and they need something done on the job, he does it himself. He’s amazing at 72 years old. A real hands-on guy.”
Over the years, Frank has invested in and accumulated commercial and residential real estate, and he continues to develop properties. He bought a number of properties surrounding his childhood home in Brooklyn, and in 2006, he developed 20 new two-family homes on those properties. This improvement resulted in a broader revitalization of the neighborhood, with other builders purchasing older homes to rebuild them.
An Industry Leader
Under Frank’s leadership, Paladino Construction Enterprises became one of the biggest sidewalk contractors in all of New York City. The company, which focuses primarily on large commercial jobs, has installed some of the most traversed sidewalks in Manhattan, including those at Saks Fifth Avenue, Park Lane Hotel New York (formerly the Helmsley Hotel), Bloomingdale’s, multiple Marriott hotels and Lever House. His clients are some of the largest real estate companies and owners in the city. Examples include Fisher Brothers, Jack Resnick & Sons, The Durst Organization, Vornado Realty Trust and The Feil Organization.
After more than 60 years in the business, Frank Paladino is now known as an industry leader, with a reputation for providing quality materials with the latest techniques and excellent supervision, on time and on budget. He’s also known for his personal attention to customer service, a trait he learned from his father.
From the moment Frank’s men arrive on-site, to the moment they leave, he is there to oversee the operation and to ensure quality. Frank’s workers also know that he is a stickler for perfection. If he doesn’t like the work, his men know they will have to chop it out and start again until he is satisfied with the result.
“Frank acts like the sidewalk is an interior finished floor; he takes pride in his work,” Maria says. “He wants the curb and levels to be exact, and he wants the finish to be perfect.”
For many years, Paladino Construction Enterprises had several staff members to help run the administrative side of the business—until the company found Al Sugrim, who is now the Controller.
“Al is amazingly efficient,” Maria says. “He can do the work of three people. When he took over, we realized we didn’t need as many staff members.”
These days, the Paladino team includes 10 to 15 men on-site. Helping Frank oversee projects is Vito Caprio, who had an excellent background in construction and, with Frank’s training, has become an expert in concrete and sidewalk vault repair. In 2010, Vito was made Vice President of Paladino Construction Enterprises.
“Vito has accumulated vast knowledge and years of experience in all aspects of the construction field,” Maria says. “He has really added another dimension to the company; he’s a great asset.”
As for Frank, Maria thinks he will never stop working. Frank and Maria own a condominium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they live during the off-season winter months. Come April, when jobs start coming in, they fly back to New York City and Frank immediately begins to work at least six, and sometimes seven days a week.
“All of our friends are astounded that he still goes to work at 6 a.m. and comes home at 5 p.m., and may work at night if necessary. He’s a strong and dedicated guy,” Maria says. “And let’s not forget, a perfectionist.”