The Story of the Pace Companies

More than the Statue of Liberty’s Plumber

From Humble Beginnings

The Pace Companies' headquarters' Brooklyn rooftop offers a stunning vista of the Manhattan skyline, towering landmarks, and memories of many of Pace's iconic projects. In 1968, Harold Block, the son of a plumber, called his small upstart plumbing business "Pace Plumbing" to be the first "P" in the Yellow Pages when a prospective client searched alphabetically for a plumber. Pace was the first call for many years not only because of its name but because of the reputation Harold created around it. "Our product is integrity, responsiveness, and the ability to solve problems. We complete a project on schedule and within budget." While competitors opened at 7:30 A.M., Pace began at 6:00 A.M.. He always worked to stay ahead of competitors, adapt with the market, and do business the right way. 

No Job Too Small

Pace found quick success in laundromats and restaurants but pivoted to take advantage of serving the daycare center construction boom and finally nursing homes. These early successes landed Pace on the City's approved list of credible, reliable plumbing contractors. "I was young, and business was terrific." Block recounts. Only six years after starting his business, the construction market crumbled. "I had a wife, three daughters, and a mortgage. I was in serious, serious trouble." Determined to succeed for his family and reputation, Harold took on several small jobs he had formerly eschewed. "I really thought my company was going to go down around me," he says, "but these guys helped me out, and because of that, I will not give up the small jobs today." Adam Levy, Pace's current President and grandson of Harold Block, states, "We never say a job is too little…no matter what the value is. We'll do a $5,000 job or a $5,000,000 job. We never forget where we came from.”

Reluctantly Becoming the Statue of Liberty's Plumber

One day in 1985, a Pace associate, William Grossberg, approached Harold about bidding on the plumbing contract for the Statue of Liberty. It wasn't worth the stress or the hassle to Harold, and he initially brushed off the idea. "It's only the beginning of many contracts," William stressed. And he was right. Harold reluctantly bid on and won the first contract to work on Liberty Island, a temporary building that housed workers constructing the new torch. Because of Pace's work, it would receive four more contracts for the Statute of Liberty and its surrounding buildings. To Harold, it wasn't about the money. "We feel a little more patriotic. Projects like this make us different. This kind of work gives us a chance to show our versatility, our expertise, our ideas, and our men. Besides, I want Pace Plumbing to be around in 100 years when the Statue needs to be restored again."

“Yes, we can. Yes, we have. Yes, we will.”

When you walk the halls of the Pace Companies' headquarters, you see news articles and photos of historical buildings lining the wall. While the mantra that "no job is too small for Pace" still stands, Pace is best known for its work on landmark projects like The United Nations Secretariat Building, Tower 4 of The World Trade Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Central Park Zoo, Carnegie Hall, and Madison Square Garden among others. "We aren’t afraid to go after the unusual jobs that not everyone is willing to undertake," Harold states. "Our company's attitude is to find a way to say 'yes we can,' instead of 'no we can not,'" a philosophy that has carried through to his son-in-law and Pace's former President, Andru Coren, and his grandson, current Pace President Adam Levy.

The Pace Companies: A Family Legacy

As Pace grew, Harold recruited his son-in-law, Andru Coren, to relocate from Florida to lead Pace into the next phase of its growth. It became evident to Andru that Pace could become more than just a plumbing company, but rather a one-stop-shop solution for customers with needs in all three MEP trades for any size project. Andru introduced new technology and cost tracking software to the company, new approaches in project management, and established an in-house engineering department with CAD and BIM systems. These advancements brought a whole new level of sophistication to the company and positioned Pace to grow exponentially over the next few years. Pace didn't stop with software and process; it began acquiring mechanical services companies to build its vision of a full-service MEPFS solution for its clients. As Harold transitioned day-to-day leadership to Andru, Andru continued to mentor his nephew Adam, at that time a VP, to lead the Pace Companies.

Establishing Pace Cares

Introduced to the idea by a business mentor, Andru recounts, "This is the thing that I'm personally most proud of that we've accomplished over the last 30 years." Pace Cares, a 501(c)(3) charity, has helped construct schools in Africa, awards scholarships to college students, gives to notable charitable causes, and currently mentors several underprivileged high school students. Pace Cares is funded through a joint effort between Pace and its vendors. For every purchase order, the participating vendor donates 1%. Pace matches the vendor’s amount, creating a 2% donation on behalf of both parties to a future charitable cause. "So little from so few can do so much for so many. It only takes 1 percent." is the mission of Pace Cares.

Tested by COVID-19

After the company decided to suspend its in-person operations due to COVID-19 late one Sunday evening in March 2020, Pace received the call from a longstanding client. The Army Corps of Engineers needed to build a 1,000-bed COVID-treatment facility in New York City to treat patients with the novel COVID-19 virus. They had selected a site—a field on the campus of SUNY Old Westbury—and an aggressive timeline of only six weeks. To most subcontractors, this would be an impossible task. If anyone could do the impossible, Pace could. "Yes, we can. Yes, we will," went the call, and Pace became one of the handpicked subcontractors for the project. In record speed, with no pre-existing drawings or plans, Pace's engineering team sprung into action designing the plumbing and sprinkler systems for six tents which would ultimately become the new treatment centers. Time was of the essence, hospitalization rates were skyrocketing, and virus cases were increasing. Pace's team worked in 24/7 shifts for the next six weeks, accomplishing the goal successfully and right on schedule.

Play COVID-19 Hospital Video

When You Call Pace, Pace is There

When clients speak about Pace, words like "dependability" and "partnership" are the common threads. For them, Pace is the total package, delivering forward-looking solutions with the ability to completely design, value-engineer, build, and successfully complete projects of every size and complexity. They can always count on Pace to be there when they need them. For three generations, Pace has been driven by a strong sense of integrity, dependability, and a spirit to "get it done right." Looking back now on lessons learned from two generations of Pace leaders, Adam recounts, "The biggest lesson I've learned from Andru and Harold is work ethic. Work hard, and everything else will fall into place. I hope I have and will continue to make my uncle and grandfather proud of the legacy they created.”

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