Tri-Line Contracting Corp.

The construction industry comes down to one thing: deadlines. If a contractor cannot meet a project’s deadlines, the schedule is pushed back, tenants are not able to occupy, budgets become engorged and owners lose money.

José Velazquez, president of New York general contracting/construction management firm Tri-Line Contracting Corp., understands that in construction, everything is about deadlines. “People need to move in by certain deadlines, commitments need to be made to owners, and those commitments need to be met up and down the line,” he states.

Velazquez makes sure his company is on top of every project by utilizing the SureTrak scheduling software system. “That really keeps us on our toes and show us where we’re at,” he says. “It allows us to identify the needs of our clients and the materials needed immediately. 

“Without having materials, you can’t build anything,” he continues. “Through SureTrak, we make sure we have the materials before we start. It gives us an all-access data center, where we’re always updating progress on a daily basis and creating weekly reports.”

At Tri-Line, the company wants all members of the construction team to understand the importance of finishing a project on time, and it starts from the top. “We have weekly meetings to check the progress of a project, and sometimes meet twice a week on a project,” he explains. “Everyone is involved, it’s all hands-on, and we look at everything at our jobs. Myself and our executives are on jobs every day, looking to see the problems and progress, and communicate with our superintendents and clients.”

Listening Up

This ability to nail down commitments and meet deadlines has made Tri-Line the go-to-guy for many clients, Velazquez asserts. The company receives 70 percent of its work from repeat clients, which Velazquez notes is based on the company’s ability to perform. 

“To do jobs, [but] clients [are] not happy with you, that speaks volumes,” he says. “If you were a construction company, or any business, and you’re continuously getting new clients, it’s good, but it means your existing clients are not coming back. Repeat business just reflects your performance. 

“Not that we’re perfect – no one is – but we try and give it our best shot,” Velazquez adds. 

Tri-Line specializes in the construction of interior corporate structures. It has worked on projects in several different sectors and says every project requires a different approach and strategy from preconstruction to closeout. 

The company says it understands the importance of listening to its clients and goes to great lengths to understand what the client’s specific needs and goals are. It remains conscious of its role on a project, which it says has three main facets:

  • Quality control
  • Schedule control
  • Cost control

Velazquez explains that the best possible way to deliver on a client’s project is to listen to what the client wants. “Every client has a goal, and that is what they want to do,” he informs. “Once you’re really, really listening – and I don’t mean hearing … but I mean listening – you really need to listen to know what exactly the client wants to achieve. Once you understand that, then you figure out a plan to achieve that, and together as a team you will accomplish [the project’s goals.]” For Velazquez, the point of Tri-Line is not for the company to perform as many projects as possible, or grow as large as it can, but to help its clients bring their ideas to fruition. “I have always said every client has a goal, has a dream, and our job is to fulfill that dream,” Velazquez states. “I always tell our guys, 

‘Don’t put our dream in front of our client’s.’”   

Distinguished Characteristics

Tri-Line’s hands-on executive approach is what Velazquez believes distinguishes the company from that of its competitors. Although Tri-Line reports that it is one of the largest minority-owned businesses in its region, it still has the size for its executives to get to know clients and visit job sites. “Sometimes, bigger isn’t always better,” Velazquez states.

“We always have an executive assigned to each job, other than the project manager, that has a direct link with me,” he explains. “I think that is what separates us. Some firms do 

something similar – and their executives get involved – and those firms are successful. I take my hat off to them. [However], most of them don’t. We want to give [clients] an honest day’s work for an honest dollar. We out-work [our competitors]. If you out-work somebody, you will be on the top.”

To “out-work” the competition, Tri-Line offers preconstruction expertise to potential clients. The company says the importance of preconstruction cannot be overstated because decisions made during preconstruction will affect the outcome of the project.

At Tri-Line, Velazquez says the company prefers to start as early as possible on a project, but that depends on the size of the scope of a job. “Sometimes, it doesn’t require much and it’s a straightforward job,” he says.

“The more complicated jobs is when preconstruction kicks-in – where jobs are bigger and there are a lot of unknowns,” he adds. If Tri-Line is hired to perform a simple job, such as demolishing a floor, Velazquez says there is no need for preconstruction work. 

However, when the company performs as construction manager on a project, he insists preconstruction is imperative to a successful outcome. “It’s probably the key to construction work,” he states. 

“From there, you can start to execute a plan – working with the client to meet budgetary issues and identify conflicts.” 

In addition, Velazquez mentions that Tri-Line ensures it consults with a project’s architects and engineers to fully understand the design. Also, this is important to know what equipment and materials are needed for a specific project. “It’s key to making a project successful,” Velazquez says. 

Looking Forward

Velazquez acknowledges it has been challenging for the company over the last year, but the company has reached its 10th anniversary. “Ten years in the business gives us the experience for staying power,” he says. “It’s a turning point in business. I am very proud of the people here. Many people have been with me for at least 10 years.”

Despite the recent difficulties, Velazquez pictures a bright future for Tri-Line. “I am so optimistic for the future, I sometimes pinch myself,” he exclaims. “I just see so much opportunity and see it in the third quarter and fourth quarter of this year. 

“This economy is ready to turn,” he continues. “Everything is cyclical. You have good times and bad times. When it’s bad, it’s doom and gloom, but you need to remember good times. When you’re in business long enough, you learn to prepare. You’ve got to just keep working, you’ve got to keep working and work through it. I’m very optimistic and enthusiastic, basically looking forward to next year, and looking forward to employing people.” 

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