Man of steel; Weehawken native, son of former mayor, leads iron works company to new heights
Although the Arrow Iron Works company has been a part of the Iacono family tradition since 1928, there was a time when Guy Iacono didn't want any part of the family business, which had been started by his grandfather and carried on by his father, Stanley, the former mayor of Weehawken. "My brother (Anthony, the township administrator of Secaucus) opted to pursue a life in politics," Guy Iacono said. "And I either wanted to be a baseball player or wanted a life in theater. I really didn't have any desire to be in the steel business. It was either baseball or acting, but then reality hit, and I had to make money." So the 43-year-old Iacono decided to carry on with the family business, which is housed in a Kearny warehouse. The Weehawken High School graduate (Class of '75) got himself accustomed to the steel industry, taking over from his father as the company president in 1990, but somehow always dealing with the smaller, local projects. "I'm not saying we weren't a real player in the business," Iacono said. "But I feel that we've recently made some major strides and finally making a statement in the steel business." You can say that again. In just the past two years, Arrow Iron Works has constructed the steel and metal fixtures in the luxury suites at Giants Stadium, has been involved in the renovation of the PNC Arts Bank in Holmdel, and has put together the railings and iron structures at the Deutsch Bank of New York City and the new Riverfront Stadium in Newark. "We've been pretty busy," Iacono laughed. And last week, perhaps the company's biggest job to date was officially revealed, when the new TriBeCa Grand Hotel opened in lower Manhattan, a $62 million, 203-room masterpiece located on the 10,000-square foot triangle where the Avenue of the Americas meets White, Church and Walker streets. Arrow Iron Works supplied all the miscellaneous steel and ornamental iron for the project, including elevator cages, the atrium railings, the canopy for the bars and the main entrance canopy, plus 10,000 feet of precise steel trim in the lobby. "This is easiest the largest contract we've had to date," Iacono said. "And we had to complete it in such a short time, only seven months. So we worked 25 hours a day, with six men there. There were several intense field installations. It was very detailed work. It was a complete dedication to the client." Ironically, the client is Hartz Mountain Industries, the Secaucus-based mega-company that owns the new TriBeCa Hotel. But Iacono assures that neither his or his father's association with the company, which owns several of properties in Weehawken, had anything to do with Iacono getting the contract. "It was all based on our service and the quality of our workmanship," Iacono said. "We put in a bid to do the work and we were able to sit down and discuss the value engineering. We wanted to save them money and were willing to work with them." According to Hartz Mountain architect John Prince, it was Iacono's eagerness to do anything and everything that enabled Arrow Iron Works to secure the bid. "We had a lot of faith in Guy," Prince said. "He might have been a small business, but he was able to do what he said. And he put every ounce of energy he had into the job. He personalizes what he does and makes sure it works. And honestly, in this business, it's not easy to find these days. He's different from the norm. "And the work turned out phenomenal," Prince said. "It's fantastic, even better than what we expected. And that's why we'll use him again for future projects. There are no gifts here. He earned it." The work even impressed Hartz Mountain chairman and TriBeCa Hotel owner Leonard Stern. "It's got this one killer design feature," Stern said. "The steel atrium. I used to travel 200,000 miles a year and I've never seen anything like this." "Mr. Stern said it was fantastic," Iacono said. "That was important to me. If I wasn't competent, there was no way that they were taking a chance. I think they were a little concerned at first, because we're a small business. But once they got to see the detailed work, they loved it. "And it was the most unique project for any steel fabricator," Iacono said. "There was a ton of artwork from day one until the end, very precise detailed steel work. And there were some changes that had to be done overnight, as opposed to four to six weeks. So the time frame made it very intense work. It was our largest contract and we had to complete it in a short time. It was absolutely a new challenge for us." But the successful completion of the project has led to other contracts, including deals with American Express, Merck Pharmaceuticals, Pershing Financial Center, the South Waterfront Project for the Applied Companies, and Richard Miller Developers' extensive mixed-use Pegasus Project in Central Jersey. "We're working with international companies now," Iacono said. "It appears as if we'll be doing more work in Manhattan now as well. We were struggling a little for a while, but now, things are really beginning to make sense. We're able to turn a quick proposal into a finished product while meeting our deadlines. That's our expertise." Iacono has also been the director of the Weehawken Cultural Affairs Committee since 1991, producing more than 25 different theatrical offerings during that time. He is married to Jamie, and the couple has two children, Guy Jude and Joiana. "I still want to be there for the local contractor," Iacono said. "I'm still a Weehawken guy, a Hudson County guy. It's just that our jobs have become a little more high-profile." Certainly, like the latest that was featured across the front page of the Sunday New York Times
Styles Section recently, namely the TriBeCa Hotel, a grand hotel that definitely has a Hudson County touch to it.