The next time you see Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park museum illuminated during a night game, think of Nellie Torres. She was responsible for managing center field electrical work at the stadium, which opened in 2009. “It was a really cool job,” Torres recalls.
The project is just one of many significant developments in Torres’ varied career, which includes starting her own company in 2003, returning to work for other construction firms and ultimately deciding to resume operation of her firm.
Torres’ company, ProjectSpan Services, is a construction services firm that works directly for agencies, engineering firms, contractors, subcontractors, building owners and developers. The bulk of the company’s work is performed in the transit industry including numerous projects for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York. “We do a lot of work for the Port Authority as well,” Vice President Garen Artinian adds.
Additionally, the company specializes in the design, implementation, construction and management of infrastructure projects throughout the United States. Clients have included transit systems, airports, bridges, tunnels, water treatment and state department of transportation jobs.
Change of Plans
Construction company ownership was not initially in Torres’ career plans. She was an accounting intern for a construction company during high school and was hired to work in the accounting department after graduation. She later moved to a similar position for an electrical contractor. “I started to get bored with accounting,” she says.
Eventually, she moved into the field to work as a project accountant, which piqued her interest in construction. “I started becoming interested in project management,” she says. A decade and several positions later, Torres was working as an operations controller for national transit for a construction company.
“I was all over the place,” she says of the early part of career. “Each move was a completely different role.” It was that diverse background that qualified her to start ProjectSpan Services, but it didn’t make the decision any easier. “It was hard,” she says of launching the company. “It was really hard. It’s not for the faint of heart.”
“It was a logical step,” Artinian says. “There is a strong need for women-owned and disadvantaged businesses that offer real value and service.”
A few years after launching ProjectSpan Services, Torres took a step back. She stopped short of closing her business, but did not seek new work during a time of uncertainty in the industry. Instead, she went to work for other companies and was involved in projects for Amtrak and the Yankee Stadium lighting work.
But the desire to re-establish ProjectSpan Services remained strong, and she returned to the company fulltime in 2011. “I was getting calls,” she says. “It seems the tide in the industry was turning. The demand was there.”
Services and Supplies
Today, ProjectSpan Services is well positioned in the civil construction industry, providing both services and supplies to contractors on a variety of civil jobs.
The company’s key differentiator is the background and experience Torres and Artinian possess. The duo met in 2010 at about the same time that Torres was strongly considering resuming her company’s operations. “Nellie is a construction professional,” says Artinian, who brings a strong background in construction supplies to the company.
Much of the company’s recent success came as a result of robust vendor relationships. “We have very strong vendors relationships,” Artinian says. “We have fortified them over the past five years.” The partnerships – many with Fortune 500 companies – have allowed ProjectSpan Services to become a materials supply leader. “That was a major game-changer,” Artinian says. “Our vendor partners are vital to our business and to our clients.”
But ProjectSpan Services does not limit itself to providing supplies to civil projects. “We don’t just buy and sell materials,” Artinian says. Rather, the company offers safety and quality control services that set it apart from the competition, Artinian says. “There’s a big need for safety engineers,” he says.
ProjectSpan Services’ engineers understand the issues associated with civil projects performed in public spaces, such as subways or bridges. “In any project that serves the public, the requirements are remarkably robust,” Artinian says. Those requirements could be related to the environment, vibration or temperature, he says. “Our staff can advise based on their experience,” he says. “It’s a highly competitive market. We’re always looking to differentiate ourselves. Our unique blend of services and products is what has allowed us to grow in the market.”
Artinian says the company has plans for continued growth including additional Port Authority work, contracts with the federal government and work at the Coney Island Aquarium. “We’re all over the place,” he says. “It’s kind of niche work, but we know our work and we love it.”
Artinian adds that he and Torres share the philosophy of offering more services to help the company expand. “We want to go farther down the line,” he says. To that end, the company offers testing services and configures communications and signal relay systems for transit authorities. “It’s been a natural progression.”