Zale Contracting

Zale Contracting picZale Contracting constructs high-end residential woodworking renovations.

By Stephanie Crets

Improving quality while not raising the cost is Benny Zale’s motto and has been since he founded Zale Contracting in 1993. Thanks to his affinity for high-end design, he decided to strike out on his own and bring that love to residential renovations through woodworking. Zale built his business gradually from one client to the next.

Zale Contracting works as general contractor for designers and produces high-quality products in its woodworking shop in Ridgewood, N.Y. The company specializes in all manner of high-end renovation from townhouses and homes to apartments and lofts across the Tri-State area in New York. “Woodworkers are the most precise people,” Zale says.

 

Out of its 17,000-square-foot woodworking shop with state-of-the-art machinery, the company can construct and design any kind of custom millwork, including moldings, custom veneering, door veneering and curved woodworks. Zale Contracting employs a CNC machine to carve reliefs into millwork and a state-of-the-art heated spray booth.

Overcoming Challenges

Zale has never advertised his business, preferring to grow via word of mouth from previous clients, architects and designers. He says many designers and architects want to work exclusively with Zale Contracting because of its attention to detail, high-quality craftsmanship and on-time delivery. “Usually the designer or client sees my project, and I don’t have to sell myself,” Zale says. “People say, ‘Wow, this is beautiful!’ I don’t need to advertise myself.” Zale Contracting box

Despite the company’s success with building from the ground up, Zale says he won’t be growing the company further. “If I expand more, I will lose the control of quality,” he notes. “It’s not the same. There’s a limit to what you can do yourself.”

Zale Contracting prefers to take on jobs that are challenging and difficult, but that can create more challenges on the woodworking end because there never seems to be enough time. “Our challenge is to build big jobs in a short time,” Zale explains. “In the beginning, that was very busy time for us and general contracting in Manhattan is a very difficult process. Sometimes you have only six months to do the project from beginning to end, when a job should be a year. Because of this, you lose quality. That bothers me because it’s difficult to create quality and complete projects in a short period of time.”

The company combats this by allowing a lot of the subcontractors – such as marble or stonework subs – to make templates in the woodworking shop. “The template is a piece of plywood that’s perfectly fitted and then we are sending this to the marble guy and he doesn’t have to worry,” Zale says. “He’s cutting stone based on our template. That’s how we achieve the accuracy every time.”

Family Company

Zale Contracting’s many departments include drafting, project management, woodworking, general contracting, finishing, accounting, custom veneering and form-work. “We have a lot of very skilled people on our payroll, and we can multiply them depending on the size of the job,” Zale notes.

The company also fosters a family atmosphere, especially since Zale’s family works with him. His wife, Aneta, works as office manager and their son, David, is learning the business and the CNC machine after recently finishing design school. “My son has come over to the business, so I’m very excited,” Zale says. “We all eat lunch together at noon. We all help each other. We play together.

“I have one rule: no rules,” he continues. “It works very well for me. I don’t care about how long it takes to get something done, all I care about is the quality and that it does get done. Check your e-mails, do whatever you need, it’s freedom, as long as things get done. The spirit in the company is very important.”

This spirit carries over into the company’s jobs, how Zale Contracting works with its clients and the quality products it crafts. Zale says he wants to make life easier for everyone involved in the job and remind them that they’re not alone; it’s a team effort. “I’m proud of our successful jobs,” he says. “And I’m proud that I came by myself to this country and met a lot of good people with the same attitude to carry the good work and we’ve accomplished a lot together.”

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