Pinnacle Environmental

Pinnacle EnvironmentalPinnacle Environmental succeeds because it understands each project requires something different.

By Chris Petersen

No two projects are alike, and understanding that fact has been one of the biggest keys to the success of Pinnacle Environmental in the New York City market. The environmental services contractor has been serving the Tri-State area for nearly 20 years, and President Paul O’Brien says in that time the company has built up a diversified client base as well as a reputation for doing things right and for a fair price.

Pinnacle Environmental offers clients in the private and public sectors a full array of environmental services, including asbestos removal, lead abatement, mold remediation, water restoration, flood damage repair, drying, document retrieval and smoke damage restoration. O’Brien says the company’s diverse services have made it a valued partner for clients ranging from the New York Power Authority to the Scholl Construction Authority to virtually every type of private business. “We actually have a very diversified client base,” he says. “We deal with developers, commercial real estate investors, commercial property owners, all the large general contractors and construction managers. We service the public utilities, higher-end residential buildings as well as all sectors of the public and private markets. Pinnacle box

“Servicing almost every sector of the market, is great for us because if there’s a downturn in any of the sectors, we have the other sectors that are keeping us busy,” O’Brien adds.

The combination of diverse services and a diverse client base means Pinnacle Environmental tackles a wide variety of challenges on any given job. What distinguishes the company from the myriad of competitors working in and around New York is its willingness to approach each project as a unique problem-solving opportunity. Not only does this result in projects being done right, but it also translates to significant cost-savings for the client. All of that adds up to Pinnacle Environmental holding a solid position as one of the New York market’s best.

Different Approaches

What sets Pinnacle Environmental apart from its competition is the fact that the company doesn’t apply a cookie-cutter approach to any of its projects, which O’Brien says makes sense for the environmental services industry. “We are in a “service” industry, so it’s really all about servicing the client and making sure the client gets what they need,” he says.

By thinking outside the box and looking at the best way to meet the client’s needs Pinnacle Environmental is able to leverage its engineering capabilities to provide clients with a plan that satisfies all of their needs. “We go with the old philosophy of Prior Proper Planning, and that seems to work well for us,” he says. “Each project is different, but the No. 1 thing is to look at the project as an individual project and develop the best means and methods for it.”

For example, the company recently completed a project on Governors Island in New York Harbor for which it needed to remove materials from the roof of a building. The company utilized a truck crane to remove the materials easily and cost-effectively, but O’Brien says what worked there would not have been as feasible in the middle of Manhattan. (SEE PHOTO)“Whether it’s using an abrasive blasting technology or water jetting or a crane or a cherry picker or other specific types of equipment, you really have to look at each job to see what lends itself best to getting the job done right,” he says.

O’Brien cites several projects, such as the UN, where a traditional hanging scaffold system was not appropriate for the façade replacement. Pinnacle lobbied for Greg Beeche Logistics be used to engineer a scaffold system that hung from the building but was anchored as a fixed scaffold. This scaffold system allowed Pinnacle and other trades to work on multiple floors simultaneously and without the wind issues of a traditional suspended scaffold.

When the NYC Department of Environmental Protection needed an Environmental Contractor to clean the vast sand beaches of Breezy Point after Hurricane Sandy they reached out to Pinnacle. Asbestos debris littered the sand. The cleaning process would need to be effective and timely. O’Brien says some ingenuity was required to establish a protocol whereby the sand could be temporarily relocated on site and sifted through screens to remove pieces of asbestos transite siding and roofing from the sand and then redistribute the clean sand back around the houses and onto the beach. Pinnacle developed a working procedure that when implemented allowed Pinnacle to meet the cleanliness standards and the tight time frame for completion.

Proper planning and engineering on the front end of a project also means Pinnacle Environmental is able to keep its pricing competitive. However, O’Brien says the company is adamant that it will never cut corners when it comes to regulatory compliance or the safety of its personnel on the jobsite. “There are ways you can make things less expensive without having to compromise those two things,” he says. “When you concern yourself with providing quality work at a reasonable price and meeting the project schedule you can still maximize  safety, and it comes back to you because clients appreciate that.

“Competition is always an issue, but staying true to our philosophy and making the clients happy with the work that we perform is probably our best defense against our competition,” O’Brien adds.

“Another key to our success is our management team,” he continues. “All of our principals and managers have a hands-on approach and are actively involved in the day-to-day operations. Following up with our clients throughout the project as well as when it is complete to ensure client satisfaction is paramount.”

Keeping Up

Pinnacle Environmental’s ability to be diverse and innovate has served it well as the environmental services industry has changed over the years. “The days of fireproofing and pipe insulation as the two main categories of asbestos materials has passed its heyday because a lot of those materials have been removed already,” O’Brien says.

In their place, different types of hazardous materials such as roofing materials and other tar-based materials as well as Vinyl Asbestos Tiles (VAT) and various mastics have become an increasingly larger segment of the company’s asbestos work. O’Brien says the company has been on the leading-edge of developing new techniques for remediating those materials, thanks to its willingness to try new things.

Working hand-in-hand with the regulatory agencies is also something that Pinnacle prides itself on. The regulatory agencies should not be viewed as advesraries but as partners. When there are reasons that a project cannot be accomplished using generic protocols specified in the regulations it is best to engineer a solution to the problem and apply for a variance from the standard procedures.

The continued success of Pinnacle Environmental will require the company to remain true to its core philosophy while also expanding into new areas, O’Brien says. “We’re looking for anything that’s synergistic to what we’re doing now,” he says. 

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