Breeze Demolition

BreezeBreeze Demolition is a go-to demolition contractor for many of New York City’s most prominent developers and contractors.

By Jim Harris 

When talking about his company’s loyalty to New York City, Breeze Demolition President Toby Romano Jr. echoes the refrain of one of most popular songs ever written about the city, “New York, New York.”

“We feel if we can work here, we can work anywhere,” he says of the company, which works entirely within the five boroughs. “It’s a hard place to work, with all the regulations and codes companies have to follow, but as long as we can stay busy here, I don’t think we’ll go anywhere else.”Breeze info box

The company has had little trouble staying busy since Romano’s father, Toby Romano Sr., founded it in 1983. “We’ve done some of the biggest demolition projects in the city,” he says. “We’ve taken down every kind of building you could mention.”

Breeze specializes in the demolition of industrial, commercial and residential properties. The company’s jobs typically range in size from three to four stories all the way to 33 stories. Breeze’s notable past projects include the 2009 demolition of Shea Stadium, one of the first projects of its kind in the city; and the teardown of the Hotel Dorset and other buildings in 2000 to make way for the expansion of the New York Museum of Modern Art.

The company is a fully union-based contractor, giving it the credentials and training it needs to work for many of the city’s biggest contractors, including Turner Construction, Lend Lease and Plaza Construction. Breeze’s teardown projects are often at the behest of notable developers and owners including Two Trees Management Company, Extell Development, Vornado Realty and Fisher Brothers. “We work for pretty much the cream of the crop,” Romano says.

Breeze also works with subcontractors and service providers including land assessors and asbestos removal companies. Subcontractors play an important role in helping the company secure negotiated contracts for private sector work. “They help us find way to save money, so I can quote a price to the owner that will get us the job,” he adds. “Our subs are loyal to us and give us good prices, and we pay them well, so they continue doing business with us.”

The Right Equipment

The company owns, operates and maintains its own fleet of equipment, which includes vibro hammers, Komatsu excavators, shears and grapples. The fleet also includes 30 Caterpillar mini-excavators and more than 50 Bobcat loaders and excavators. “We own machines for every aspect of demolition,” Romano says.

Breeze regularly invests in new equipment, and the company also trades in or converts old equipment. Mini-excavator machines are typically purchased six times a year. “We use our small machines to do a lot of big work,” he adds. “Sometimes we can only really get a year or two of life out of them.”

The company’s equipment fleet also includes a high-reach excavator capable of reaching 135 feet in the air, which makes Breeze “very competitive on bidding high buildings,” Romano notes.

Project Experience

Breeze used the high-reach excavator on several of its recent projects, including the demolition of three 12-story buildings on behalf of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

The company also used the piece of machinery, among others, to tear down the former Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Work on the removal of the multi-building factory complex – initially built in the 1850s, and at one point the largest sugar factory in the world – commenced in 2014. Interior work including industrial tank removal is still ongoing on the site, though its structural exterior has been removed.

Two Trees Management Company has plans to redevelop the site into office space, market rate and affordable housing, neighborhood retail and community spaces.

The company is also in the last stages of tearing down three aircraft hangars at John F. Kennedy Airport for the New York Port Authority.

Breeze’s other ongoing projects include the demolition of a campus building at Barnard College on behalf on Turner Construction, which is building a new academic building there.

The project is one of several the company has underway on college campuses. The company last year began tearing down the Coles gymnasium building on the New York University campus to make way for a new athletic facility. The company is also demolishing a 30-story building for Trinity Church, which has plans to replace the apartment complex.

Safe and Sustainable

Breeze’s demolition projects involve intensive labor, as the company takes a piece-by-piece, top-down approach to teardowns.

The company maintains extensive training and safety programs to ensure its projects run smoothly. Breeze’s safety manual includes guidelines regarding program administration and individual safety responsibilities, monitoring and inspection of field operations, accident and illness prevention, hazard communication and documentation.

Job foremen hold toolbox talks and huddles on a daily basis to relay information including the proper use of safety harnesses and other equipment. “Our foremen are constantly walking our job sites and making sure our work is being done properly,” Romano says.

The company’s education and training program complies with OSHA standards and includes orientation for new hires, OSHA training and annual retraining, specific job skill training and on-site training.

Breeze is also dedicated to environmentally friendly practices. The company partners with recycling facilities to meet its goals of recycling more than 90 percent of the scrap metal, concrete and other materials generated from its jobs. “Just about everything we’re tearing down is getting recycled in some way,” Romano says.

The company’s safety and recycling policies are carried out by an experienced staff, which includes people who have worked for Breeze for more than 15 years. “We have a lot of experience behind us,” Romano says.

Breeze’s staff has helped the company gain a positive reputation among owners and contractors. “Our reputation means everything to us,” Romano says. “Whether we lose or make money, we never want to compromise safety or our reputation; that’s what keeps us going.”

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