Reputation for Excellence Demolishes the Status Quo
R. Baker & Son Builds Legacy of Trust and Safety
Whom do you trust to move priceless historical artifacts, or to dismantle parts of a building that stands as a global symbol for peace and cooperation? Look no further than R. Baker & Son All Industrial Services Inc. (R. Baker & Son), a dismantling, decommissioning and demolition contractor based in Marlboro, N.J., that caters to a diverse array of clients throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Europe.
Founded in 1935, R. Baker & Son defied the odds of most Great Depression-era start-ups. It has thrived now for 82 years despite multiple wars, and economic depressions and recessions. Founder Robert “Ruby” Baker led the company by himself until 1954, at which point he invited his son, Walter, to partner with him. Now Walter, President, and his sons David and Mark, co-Vice Presidents, run the certified service-disabled veteran-owned operation.
An Impressive Project Portfolio
R. Baker & Son has established a reputation of diversified experience with its extensive portfolio of projects, which includes very complex, demanding work. Director of Business Development Arthur Sferlazzo has been with R. Baker & Son for more than 20 years and has seen his fair share of these remarkable undertakings. He proudly shares that the dismantling of stairwells in the Statue of Liberty, the rigging of precious artifacts in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and the restoration of the United Nations Headquarters are among the most noteworthy projects the firm has ever completed.
Another iconic project is the demolition of the East Hudson and Manhattan transportation hub wall for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub Project in New York City. The work was completed in multiple phases over several years. It involved demolishing and removing approximately 25,000 square feet of foundation wall of varying thickness up to eight feet, and replacing approximately 1,500 square feet of street paving.
At the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, the contractor was tasked with the rigging of some of the nation’s most historic military aircraft and artifacts. Careful planning and coordination were necessary to ensure that each pick was performed without damaging the priceless items, examples of which included an F11 Phantom Ex. Navy Blue Angel Jet No. 5, an A4F Skyhawk Simulator, and a UH-1B Vietnam-era helicopter. The rigging crew used a 120-ton hydraulic crane and spreader bars to transfer objects to the USS Intrepid—one of the most iconic U.S. ships in maritime history. Even some of the original pilots and aircraft crew members stopped by to watch the work being performed.
It is this same level of expertise that landed the company its contract to participate in the extensive renovation of the United Nations Headquarters, part of a $2.2 billion Capital Master Plan project.
Renovation of a Global Icon
Located in East Manhattan and overlooking the East River, the United Nations complex is among New York City’s most easily identifiable landmarks. The development sits on 18 acres and contains several different structures. The 39-story Secretariat building, in particular, stands out as a global symbol of unity, housing administrative offices belonging to U.N. representatives and to the Secretary General. In addition, the campus contains an expansive collection of important works of art and historic objects donated by countries around the world.
In 2008, extensive renovations commenced to modernize and preserve the complex’s three main buildings. R. Baker & Son’s work began with rigging and moving large sculptures, such as a section of the Berlin Wall donated in 2002, from the North Lawn to an onsite staging area. At the project’s end, eight years later, crew members helped to reinstall these artifacts throughout the newly restored grounds.
A significant part of the renovation effort revolved around making the headquarters, originally constructed in 1952, safe for modern-day use. R. Baker & Son played a large role in the demolition and hazardous materials abatement of the campus’ General Assembly Hall. The company also replaced the outdated exterior glass curtain wall of the Secretariat tower with new state-of-the-art glass panels. This monumental job required extremely precise coordination in the incremental removal and replacement of 5,040 glass panes. “As we took down four pieces of glass, the glaziers were right behind us. Before we took down the next four pieces they had to first finish installing the four new pieces,” says Sferlazzo.
He also notes that work on the Secretariat building held obstacles outside of the team’s control. “New York has adverse weather conditions, which naturally posed multiple safety challenges. Setting the scaffolding and ensuring that the men were tied off properly was paramount,” says Sferlazzo.
There is Trust in Safety
Why entrust a company with such complex and important projects? Sferlazzo says the key to his organization’s ability to win these types of contracts is based on safety and trust. He emphasizes that the bedrock of R. Baker & Son’s reputation is tethered to its unwavering commitment to safety. “Safety is our hallmark. In fact, that is why we have employees who are 2nd- and 3rd-generation workers.”
Employees know that R. Baker & Son makes safety a top priority, a vitally important consideration when working in one of the world’s most dangerous professions. The firm employs over 100 individuals, including several full-time, in-house safety and project managers—each of whom has an average 20 years of industry experience. Every employee has undergone intensive OSHA and hazardous waste operations and emergency response training, and is required to maintain annual refresher course requirements. Furthermore, team members have comprehensive training in rigging, scaffolding, lifts and heavy equipment, confined space entry, respiratory protection, emergency response and first aid.
In an industry rife with inherent yet preventable dangers, R. Baker & Son is more than willing to dedicate the time and financial commitment needed to ensure safety for all.
“We never compromise costs at the expense of safety. We invest significantly into our safety and training programs throughout the year to ensure the health and welfare of our personnel, as well as that of our clients’ employees. It is this singular emphasis on safety that sets us apart from many of our competitors,” says Sferlazzo. The company’s outstanding safety record of zero incidents over the last 16 years can be credited to these superior safety standards.
A COMMITMENT TO Excellence
When discussing what motivates R. Baker and Son to be a top performer in the industry, Sferlazzo gives a nod to his competition. “Other companies do a good job, which pushes us to be better and to set ourselves apart,” he explains. The company’s in-house publication, the Outrigger, is one innovative tool used to educate others about its projects and services, and to acknowledge employees’ accomplishments. Since R. Baker & Son views all employees as family, this is one way to ensure that their dedication and exemplary work performance are recognized.
R. Baker & Son is no stranger to excellence. The firm has been named multiple times as one of the top 25 demolition companies in North America by Demolition & Recycling International magazine, based upon revenue from demolition operations. In 2010, Engineering News-Record magazine ranked it as the top demolition and wrecking contractor in the tri-state area.
It is obvious that R. Baker & Son has set itself apart as a top-notch contractor in the dismantling, decommissioning and demolition industry. In the days ahead, the contractor plans to continue demolishing the status quo by anchoring all of its services in excellence.