Since Thomas Edison first lit the streets of Menlo Park, New Jersey in 1879, most of the developed world has embraced electricity as a modern necessity in daily life. Today, the vast majority of us take the simple act of flipping on and off a light or plugging in our smartphone for granted.
But not our world’s electrical contractors. The job of these trade contractors is to install, maintain, and repair electrical, lighting, and communications systems – a high-risk career working on complex projects.
Recently, we found ourselves just over 30 miles from where Thomas Edison first publicly displayed electricity – now appropriately named Edison, NJ. We had the opportunity to dive behind-the-scenes at a jobsite with a New York City specialty contractor, Polo Electric. Since 1979, the company has been delivering an array of projects across the always-on New York City market, building a strong reputation for quality and efficiency.
During our visit, we learned about a day in the life of five professionals at the electrical contracting company: Daniel Castellano, Assistant Vice President; Joseph White, Senior Project Manager; Rich Feroni, General Foreman; Robert Cavazzin, Foreman; and Gene Borgioli, Supervisor. These Polo Electric employees gave us a snapshot of what it’s like providing electrical systems for an American powerhouse – Amazon – in addition to how they use leading construction technology solutions to manage complex coordination activities. Read about and watch clips from the day, below.
If you live and work in NYC, chances are, you’ve heard wind of the Amazon’s massive presence in New York. The 360,000 square-feet Manhattan office on West 33rd Street will serve as the New York JFK distribution center occupying the sixth and seventh floors.
For such a large and high profile megaproject, the team at Polo Electric is prepared. The veteran team has worked with Amazon for past projects. Having completed the seventh-floor last year, the team is currently working on the sixth-floor – totally around 120,000 square-feet. “This is actually the third Amazon project that I've been working on,” said Gene.
The construction industry is incredibly fast-paced. A highly competitive New York market and the hustle and bustle of city life have construction teams feeling the pressure. On a daily basis, the Polo Electric team is well-versed on the need to work at optimal productivity rates – but as long as it does not impact safety. As mentioned, electrical contractors work in high-risk scenarios and need to prioritize safety above all else.
“Probably one of the biggest challenges in the construction industry is trying to have everyone work together safely in the most efficient way possible,” explained Robert. “Of course, every contractor wants to make a profit. But you need to ensure you can get teams home safely at the end of the day.”
“Coordination is one of the biggest challenges in the construction industry,” Joseph noted.
While coordination is important in all construction activities, it’s all the more essential when teams are dealing with the complex nature of electrical systems. As a senior project manager, Joseph’s role is to remove barriers to coordination, “My job is to coordinate with other trades correctly to ensure that everybody has a good workflow and the project gets finished on time,” he said.
Nonetheless, the team adopts a robust technology toolkit to keep the team aligned and on-track.
Since its early days, innovation has shaped the roles of electrical contractors. Today, forward-thinking contractors utilize a range of technology tools to help them work smarter and more efficiently. “Technology nowadays makes things a lot easier and faster,” said Gene. “You used to wait a week to receive drawings on a job. Now, it's an hour.”
One of the tools that Polo Electric uses daily includes PlanGrid. Gene added, “PlanGrid has made a major impact in the way that the whole construction industry is done nowadays, you can reference anything right there.”
For instance, as an Assistant Vice President at the company, Dan needs to stay on top of a variety of Polo Electric projects.
“Years ago, I'd constantly have to go back to the office, fax or email changes, then talk on the phone or meet in person to manage project changes.”
Beyond the Amazon job, Dan uses PlanGrid on all his projects for project communication, change order management, and review of design renderings and design budgets. He noted, “If there are change orders, instead of going back to office, I can just pull up the drawing and have all the information right there to discuss the scope and price. Also if there is a need to review a particular design issue on site, we can use PlanGrid to review and resolve right there. Plangrid pretty much eliminates the back and forth. It’s a great time saver and I can’t stress that enough!”
For Joseph, immediate access to information is critical to enabling fast coordination for his crew. “Construction schedules don't stop, and they don't get extended. The real-time information that PlanGrid provides us is pretty much invaluable. If something is generated from an engineer and brought to our attention, I can get that to the field within seconds.”
However, PlanGrid is not the only game-changing tool the team at Polo Electric uses. “Other technology tools that we use that make an impact on my daily life would be AutoCAD. It helps us design our conduit runs, where fixtures are going to lay out, all different types of dimensions,” Joseph explained.
But no matter the tools that Polo Electric deploys, at the end of the day, it’s about creating a safe and supportive environment for their people to thrive. Gene concluded, “What I love most about the construction industry is that I come into work every day and have a good time. We work very hard, but we also have fun.”
We love connecting with construction professionals in the field and seeing the amazing projects they are helping to build. We would love to hear your thoughts on these types of jobsite spotlights for future content. Share your thoughts in our comments section below!