Banding together for a common cause served as the motivation for the creation of the HIC of Staten Island, Inc. (the Home Improvement Contractors of Staten Island) almost 40 years ago.
The non-profit professional organization was created by a group of Staten Island contractors who were frustrated by the influx of unlicensed contractors in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“If you were a licensed contractor back then, you were competing for projects against unlicensed individuals who were underbidding the project because they were working without insurance, working without a contract and not performing the services promised, or taking a deposit and not returning to do the work as there was no accountability on their part to uphold licensing requirements,” said Mike Veneziale, past President of the HIC of Staten Island and Manager at Statwood Home Improvements in Grasmere. “This group banded together to ensure homeowners were provided access and made aware of the importance of hiring licensed, insured, and bonded contractors for their home improvement projects.”
Over the years, the association expanded and attracted other types of contractors and local businesses.
“The organization started attracting framers, roofers, plumbers, and other supportive trades. Although these were not General Contractors that managed or secured permits for the projects, they were important contributors to the projects and found themselves in the same competition with their unlicensed counterparts,” said current HIC of Staten Island President Ronald D. Victorio, of Ronald Victorio Architect in West Brighton. “The organization further evolved as it added local retail businesses like banks, suppliers, legal professionals, insurance companies, and other supportive members. Now, all these contributory trades and businesses could help support the contractors and Staten Island homeowners when putting together projects.”
“You want to work with people who have the same moral and business standards as you. You want to associate yourself with a group of peers you can rely on,” he added.
Since he joined the group over a decade ago, Victorio routinely updates the membership on policy changes and new developments at the Department of Buildings, such as new building codes that are being enforced.
The group’s focus has also shifted as the HIC of Staten Island has found ways to assist the community.
In 2014 the group came to aid Historic Richmond Town by creating a temporary roof structure over the fire damaged, landmarked Kruser-Finley House when it fell victim to arson. This allowed the historic restoration of the building to continue through inclement weather and the harsh winter season.
Since 2015, the members of HIC have engaged the community and promoted consumer education by offering answers to homeowner questions related to the home improvement industry. The Ask the Expert column, in the Home Section of the Staten Island Advance, has become a great resource for information about hiring licensed contractors and the ins and outs of home improvement projects.
Currently, the group is assisting the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation repairing homes for Staten Islanders in need.
The HIC of Staten Island also teams with the Staten Island Chapter of the American Institute of Architects to present the Allen Hauber Scholarship Award Program. The program salutes high school seniors who have demonstrated exceptional scholastic achievement, community service, and an interest in pursuing careers in the Engineering, Architectural, Mechanical and Construction Trades by offering scholarships toward their continued education in those industries.
“Allen was very emphatic about the importance of the HIC and its mission. His drive to expand the reach of the organization into the community and within the trades was equal to the kindness and care he offered his customers at Bob Mims Heating & Air Conditioning,” said Victorio, about the former HIC of Staten Island President who passed away in 2014. “This scholarship program recognizes Allen and his efforts in the community, as well as his drive to connect with the younger generation of students who were interested in the trade industries, to inspire and offer assistance.”
The HIC of Staten Island takes pride in being members of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce for the past 25 years. The HIC, like the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, is a resource for the Staten Island Community and local businesses interested in expanding their reach.
“We’re faithful to the Chamber. The organization has always supported us and given us the platform to collaborate with a unified purpose. Over the years, the Chamber has referred us to consumers and has included us in many events and opportunities. It’s been a really great relationship that we intend on maintaining for years to come,” said Veneziale.
A unified purpose also embodies the goal of the HIC of Staten Island, Inc. – which has served the Staten Island community since 1982 – as the organization remains dedicated to the education and professional development of the Residential Home Improvement & Remodeling Industry.
The association is comprised of General Member contractors and sub-contractors who are licensed, insured and bonded to conduct business in New York City, with an Associate Membership base that supports the local community and the General Member businesses.
Through an extensive screening process and the requirement of their members to follow a strict Code of Ethics, homeowners can be assured that any time they hire a HIC member, they are hiring an individual who has made a strong commitment to professionalism in the remodeling industry. HIC members must be licensed by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (or the appropriate agency for specialized trades) for a minimum of three years before joining the organization. Prior to acceptance into the organization, potential members undergo a rigorous screening process to insure they have no complaints against the business and an upstanding customer service record.