Tutor's financial backing helps, allowing GreenStar affiliates to get project bonding and to mobilize for big contracts before initial payments arrive. Roman says assembling experienced project teams and relying on what he calls “the best field labor in New York” also help GreenStar bid competitively and navigate tough conditions. The shops rely on union labor, including Electricians Local 3, Plumbers Local 1 and Steamfitters 638.

The firm does work in both public and private sectors, on civil and building jobs alike—particularly in the commercial and residential high-rise, transit, school and environmental markets. “That kind of diversification has really helped us during the economic downturn,” Segal says.

The WTC site provides a snapshot of GreenStar's range. On the 3.5-million-sq-ft 1 WTC, Five Star has a $230-million electrical contract and WDF an $80-million plumbing contract from Tishman Construction, construction manager for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Other WTC contracts for WDF include heating work on the 1,270-ft-tall 2 WTC for Turner Construction, construction manager for Silverstein Properties; plumbing and heating on the 80-story 3 WTC for Tishman and Silverstein; heating for Tishman and Silverstein on the 2.3-million-sq-ft 4 WTC; and plumbing on the Port Authority's $3.4-billion WTC Transportation Hub for Tishman and Turner.

Five Star's WTC work includes electrical services on a $200-million chiller plant under a joint venture with Long Island City, N.Y.-based KSW; the $700-million National September 11 Memorial & Museum under construction manager Lend Lease; and several contracts on the new transportation hub.

On an early hub contract, Skanska's Cavallaro observed firsthand Five Star's work on a demanding effort to open temporary pedestrian access. “That one showed Five Star's ability to deliver on a really tough job,” he says. “It was a very compressed schedule, but [Segal] got a lot of men in there, and got it done on time.”

Meanwhile, over at MSG, Five Star is handling electrical work and WDF is doing the heating under a Turner contract to refurbish the arena. “Even at midnight, there are hundreds of people working around the clock,” Roman says.

Both affiliates are also working on the $1.3-billion, 600,000-sq-ft Resorts World New York casino project at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Parent firm Tutor is the contractor for the owner Malaysia-based Genting.

Parallel Roots

GreenStar's core units share more than just project work, however. They also have parallel roots.

Segal's father, Bernard, started Five Star the year Gary was born in 1959. It was a seven-person shop in 1979, when it began hiring Local 3 labor, sparking an expansion to its 1,400-employee size today, Segal says. Similarly, Roman's father, Eric, started R&C Plumbing, a predecessor to WDF. Back then, the fathers' companies often worked side-by-side on New York projects, especially public schools.

After the sons took over their respective family businesses, they began restructuring each firm with key moves such as acquiring rivals and expanding into new markets.

“Both of our fathers were excellent at what they did, but both were conservative,” Roman says. “They stayed in their fields and watched cash grow in the bank. Both Gary and I believed you had to invest that money back in the business and expand.”

Entering the last decade, Five Star and WDF had become market leaders, often working together on projects just as their fathers' firms had. When the opportunity arose to formally partner, it was a logical next step to form GreenStar—a name the organization chose due to the budding trend of green construction.

“Not only are the firms dependable, but leaders like Larry and Gary know their jobs,” says Charlie Murphy, the senior vice president heading Turner's New York business unit. “They'll pick up the phone and respond.” Those qualities are crucial in subcontractors, he says. “We don't really have bulldozers or cranes,” he says. “We're only as good as our teams.”