Boro Park Snapshot: Silvercup Scaffolding
By Yehudit Garmaise
Everywhere we look, we see scaffolding. Everywhere we turn we see more and more beams, platforms, and metal frames. Who constructs all this scaffolding? From where does it come, and when will it go away?
In a city that is constantly building new buildings and improving old ones, Silvercup Scaffolding, a leader in the installation of sidewalk sheds and scaffolding, constructs much of the safety equipment for the plentiful construction that we see in our neighborhood. Silvercup Scaffolding installs its safety material at the request of building owners and contractors, for the protection of both the workers and pedestrians.
From his garage 20 years ago, Avrumi Liebermann, started a scaffolding business that he called A-1 Scaffolding. As the company grew, he partnered with Isaac Adler and changed the name of the company to Silvercup Scaffolding. Together, the two businessmen rolled up their sleeves to set their sights on scaffolding not only standard buildings, but high-rise buildings as well. Ten years later, Silvercup Scaffolding has grown to become one of the largest scaffolding businesses in the tri-state area, with safety being their number one priority.
Sidewalk sheds are temporary structures that construction safety companies, such as Silvercup Scaffolding, build to protect people. Property owners must install sidewalk sheds when they are constructing buildings that are more than 40 feet high, demolishing buildings more than 25 feet high, and when any other potential danger necessitates extra protection. While we are most accustomed to the typical green sidewalk sheds under which we walk every day, Silvercup Scaffolding provides many more types of safety equipment as well.
For instance, Silvercup Scaffolding chooses appropriate scaffolding frames, which are stored in their large warehouse in Far Rockaway, to build temporary platforms that elevate and support workers who work high above the ground level. So that elevated workers can safely move around buildings in any direction they need to complete their tasks, scaffolding platforms provide safe and stable support for jobs that involve the construction, the repair, and the cleaning of buildings.
In addition to the many sidewalk sheds and scaffolding that Silvercup Scaffolding has constructed around New York City, the company provides many other safety features. For instance, horizontal netting, which is a construction safety netting that the company installs horizontally to catch any falling building materials. Horizontal netting prevents dangerous building materials from falling down from higher places and, G-d forbid, hurting either the workers working below and the pedestrians who are passing by on street, explained Chaim Nuchem Neuhaus, who is one Silvercup Scaffolding’s eight project managers.
Another crucial piece of safety equipment the scaffolding company provides are hoists that are temporary elevators that lift and lower heavy loads, which construction workers can operate electrically in-lieu of actual elevators inside buildings. The Fire Department of New York requires all buildings higher than 75 feet to have operating hoists or elevators in case, G-d forbid, accidents happen on site. In the case of emergencies, firemen often must easily access higher floors. Every 90 days, the Department of Buildings regulates and tests all the city’s hoists.
Additionally, workers who replace and repair roofs risk permanent injury or death from falling, G-d forbid, while they demolish old roofs and install new roofing material, such as shingles, tiles, or slate. Even experienced roofers are sometimes exposed to unpredictable hazards that can cause falls caused by such mishaps such as, uneven sheathing, sudden gusts of wind, loose roofing materials, or surfaces that become slick when wet. Roof protection reduces the many falling risks, prevents damage to roofs and saves lives.
“We want the construction companies, contractors, and workers to have everything they need to work safely” Neuhaus told Heshy Rubinstein of BoroPark24.
Neuhaus, who attended the Tiferes Eliezer Yeshiva on 47th Street, sets up the company’s projects first by determining clients’ safety needs, then by directing the company’s in-house engineers to file for the necessary permits, and finally, by arranging the necessary equipment and manpower each construction site requires for maximum safety.
In addition to the many workmen who install, and later remove, the company’s safety equipment, Silvercup Scaffolding employs a team of office workers to do paperwork that includes drawing up plans, pulling building permits, and arranging for insurance, which is a major expense of any construction project.
While plentiful sidewalk sheds and scaffolding may be constant eyesores and slight inconveniences, pedestrians should remember that all the platforms and protective structures exist to protect both workers and passersby alike.
Liebermann, who grew up in Manhattan fondly remembered the first building on which he installed scaffolding, 20 years ago, in Central Park West: a client he secured through a family friend.
“I knew a lot of people in real estate, and I thought with my knowledge of scaffolding, I could help with all the safety work that needs to be done to protect people,” Liebermann explained.
Silvercup Scaffolding prides itself on having top of the line insurance that protects both themselves and the building owners. Silvercup Scaffolding, the only 100% Jewish-owned scaffolding company, remains available to their clients 24/6 : even in the middle of the night, for emergency calls and service.
Although Silvercup Scaffolding has grown to be quite a large company, it gives customers a mom and pop, warm, and personalized feel, For instance, all customers are assigned dedicated project managers whom they can call at any time.
In addition to running their business and contributing to many charities, Lieberman and Adler have occasionally repurposed their extensive scaffolding materials for creative projects, such as building their own sukkahs in their own backyards, sukkahs in the community, and additional seating galleries in shuls for Yom Tov.