It’s great to meet a master of his craft, who yet remains humble. Josh Wiener, the visionary founder of SilverLining Inc. is one such person. Josh shares his company’s story with humor and humility, revealing how he forged a unique reputation in New York City’s competitive construction market.
If you could typify the work of this remarkable construction company, headquartered on the Upper West Side of New York City, you’d say that SilverLining Inc. re-constructs, reshapes, and renovates residences to last a lifetime.
SilverLining is particularly popular with the most seasoned property owners, architects, and designers throughout the city, the Hamptons and the tri-state area – the ones who most appreciate unrelenting attention to detail and a no-nonsense take on getting the job done. SiverLining’s philosophy is simple. With its own large team of tradespeople on call, SilverLining, Inc. isn’t dictated to by other contractors’ schedules. This means it can complete anything from the smallest job to $65 million projects on time and to the highest standards.
Time has shown that SilverLining’s quality is especially evident in the elevated selling prices of properties that it has worked its magic on. Real estate agents have realized record-level sale prices thanks to the company’s well-built, aesthetically and historically aware renovations and the quality of the finishes.
Light after the storm
As its name suggests, SilverLining would like to be seen as providing the light after the storm that some people unfortunately experience during major renovations and construction. Its reliability and skill have made SilverLining the trusted supplier of construction and renovation to some of the city’s most renowned properties. These discerning clients hire this team because they know that they will be getting top quality, sophisticated craftsmanship without surprises.
With the principle of “quality first” guiding everything it does, the company’s primary strategy is to build long-term relationships with clients, architects, designers, and others involved in property development. Known for its superb finishing skills, the company is best defined by customers’ appreciation of its project teams. Clients and industry partners often remark on what a pleasure it is working with SilverLining’s project management teams. And as one could have guessed, as the company of a down-to-earth man, SilverLining is often praised for its teams’ down-to-earth dedication to excellence.
Like one of the world’s premier bespoke hotels, SilverLining Inc. prioritizes its customers’ service preferences, providing them with a superb construction experience throughout their relationship. Joel Arencibia, Josh’s business partner and Director of Operations, nurtures these customer relationships, ensuring that clients’ preferences are met consistently and that everyone feels at home working with SilverLining. But the construction experience is only one of the features of SilverLining’s service that have secured the company its considerable repeat customer base.
Taking its customer-care focus further, a robust Service Department offers maintenance and repair services for SilverLining’s clients for many years afterwards. Unlike many contractors in the field, SilverLining can still be found performing service work for apartments it completed 20 years ago. Clients can always count on SilverLining’s service team being a phone call away.
“Clients should never feel ashamed to call if they need a new shelf in a coat closet. They can call our service department and we’ll build a new shelf. I don’t want people to feel that we don’t care about them after we complete their major renovation,” Josh adds. Of course, this is something clients truly appreciate.
SilverLining is built on solid relationships. It has an office team of around 45 and its craftsmen include around 60 carpenters and 70 plasterers and painters who specialize in complex applications like Venetian stucco, a luxurious type of plaster and wax finish that covers walls in rich, smooth limestone hues. In addition, SilverLining runs a world-class, 14,000 square-foot cabinet shop in the Bronx.
Josh also upholds a rule of only employing subcontractors who are willing to do small jobs alongside the big projects. “If I send out a contractor who balks at completing a powder room, I will not give him a multi-million-dollar project,” says Josh. By keeping away subcontractors who deem smaller jobs inferior, the company supports service providers who share the same work and service principles as its own, and who are in the trade to excel at quality craftsmanship and client care at every level.
The company’s refreshing lack of a superiority complex trickles down from its President, Josh, who firmly believes that no job is beneath him – from picking up trash to replenishing paper cups at the water cooler, he leads by example. There is no doubt that this sincere, caring approach to customers is part of what has taken SilverLining to the pinnacle of New York contracting success.
An appreciation for beauty
Josh grew up in a 19th century New York brownstone that his parents bought in 1964, and Josh helped his father renovate it. It’s quite possible that this experience, and the fact that both his father, a dance instructor, and his mother, a teacher, had a singular passion for their disciplines, kindled a love of beauty and appreciation of order in the young Josh. Not to mention his cultivated eye for detail.
Josh quickly soaked up the principles of the decorating trades by closely watching the tradesmen hired by his father. From there, Josh started taking on painting and plastering work in his free time. Advertising his services on lamp posts, he quickly built up a customer base and began to make a name for himself. These early jobs helped pay for his degree at Vassar.
After graduating, he lived in Europe for a year before starting a business in earnest in 1986. He incorporated SilverLining in 1987, growing the business from a single employee to over 250 today. The going has been tough at times, but quality work and commitment to customer relationships have always carried the day.
In 1992, the company got its first $1 million contract. It was a summer-only building project, one that required contractors to complete noisy work between Memorial and Labor Day. Josh and his team went at the contract with gusto, completing it on time to the delight of the client. This set the company on a new trajectory and big jobs began to roll in.
About this time, Josh recalls a defining moment of his career, when a mirror installer proved hard to get in touch with. After Josh explained to his client his many attempts to contact the supplier, the client reminded Josh that he was not paid to make phone calls, but to get the job done. Josh, seeing the truth of this, jumped on the subway to visit the man’s workshop – learning that sometimes, an in-person visit gets results that phone calls do not. Later, thinking about the incident, Josh made sure to remember that lesson for the rest of his career. He applies that principle in his business to this day.
Great to be chosen
Consistency builds success and one of the greatest compliments the company was paid came in 2018, from Interior Design Magazine, who listed SilverLining as one of its three favorite New York City construction companies, as chosen by the magazine’s survey of top New York architects and designers. SilverLining was listed along with much larger, nationwide construction companies, making it a true honor to be recognized by industry partners as the only smaller, local construction firm on the list.
SilverLining’s project with Pembooke & Ives won the 2018 NYCxDESIGN Award for Best Small Apartment, and SilverLining’s most-buzzed about achievement to date is its SkyHouse project, completed with architect David Hotson and interior designer Ghislaine Viñas. SkyHouse is a four-story penthouse which boasts soaring interior spaces, stunning views of Manhattan on all sides, and a three-story, 80-foot stainless steel slide. SkyHouse was awarded the Jury Prize in the Residential Interiors Category in the 2013 Architizer A+ Awards and won Interior Design magazine’s 2012’s “Best of Year” Award.
While SilverLining’s success did not come easily, one of Josh’s most unusual but certainly effective approaches to business is not to set goals – except in terms of growth and learning from his mistakes. “Setting goals makes life stressful and I don’t like that. I set a goal for 10 percent growth every year, establishing a consistent foundation for annual improvement, but I am careful not to create overly ambitious, unsustainable goals,” he says. Apart from avoiding disappointment, the wisdom in his approach is that his life and his thoughts are invested in quality and enjoyment instead of in quantity and competition. For this CEO, unachievable goals take the joy out of doing what he loves.
There’s no doubt that this unshakable confidence in having nothing to prove to anybody has shaped SilverLining’s outlook into a healthy, holistic, and unique approach to business.