Josh Wiener grew up helping his parents restore the Manhattan townhouse they bought in 1963, but his time for sorting nails has long come and gone, replaced by loftier goals.
Now he is president of SilverLining Inc. and, with his Partner Joel Arencibia and support from a tightknit group of managers, restores high-end luxury apartments and townhouses throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Hamptons and Westchester for the metro area’s most discerning clients.
When completed, those projects regularly go for $500 to upwards of $1,000 a square foot, and have included such features as a spiraling metal slide in a four-story Manhattan penthouse, a motorized bed and dresser that rise from a loft floor and swimming pools dug beneath early 20th century townhouses.
Thirty years in, SilverLining shows no signs of slowing, and Wiener and Arencibia are very much involved in the day-to-day.
On the thirtieth floor of a prewar Manhattan apartment building, the company plans to convert old attic and building maintenance space—where elevator machinery and a water tank were housed—into living space. Then, it will cut windows into the mansard roof, creating unobstructed views of the city.
“We’re very thrilled about the project because it’s formerly mechanical space and it’s all being converted into residential space,” says Wiener. “It’s amazing.”
Pearls of wisdom
That undertaking speaks to the complex projects that SilverLining Inc., formerly SilverLining Interiors Inc., can take on.
“The brain power that we can bring to a project is exciting,” says SilverLining Partner and Director of operations, Joel Arencibia. “That’s what we love; we love to build challenging projects. It’s great to build beautiful ones, but the more challenging, the better.”
Yet, it also belies an attention to detail that harkens back to Wiener’s past.
Honing in on perfection
When he was a kid, his parents—both dance instructors—bought a fixer upper in what was then a bad neighborhood: 91st Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.
Wiener had a gradual but constant immersion in lending a hand to his parents. At 6 years old, he was sorting nails. At 11, he was mixing plaster and rebuilding walls. Fifty three years later, Wiener’s company completes as much as $85 million worth of work annually and manages as many as 22 projects at a time.
But SilverLining wasn’t always in that position, and Wiener didn’t go from remodeling with his parents, to CEO, overnight.
Back when he was a college student, Wiener spent his summer breaks painting his parents’ townhouse and their friends’ apartments to earn money for school. After college, Wiener, a psychology and theater major, realized he wasn’t going to become a famous actor in a year, like his high school classmate Ben Stiller.
He decided, instead, to dedicate himself to his painting business, which he incorporated as SilverLining Interiors in 1987.
As the size of projects grew, so too did their complexity. SilverLining has entirely rebuilt townhouses when only the façade was kept intact. SilverLining has installed rooftop greenhouses imported from England and made many additions to homes.
Over the years, it has fine-tuned the pool of craftsman it works with, both in- and out-of-house. For specialty features like staircases, SilverLining works with subcontractors throughout the U.S. and the world.
For glass shower doors and mirrors, it works with the New Jersey-based subcontractor, Empire Mirror & Glass. The two companies have partnered for 20 years, and this allows SilverLining to incorporate high-end and custom shower glass and mirrors into its projects.
SilverLining may have perfected its material selection, too, opting in some cases to use windows from Germany or wood, metal and glass from Italy. In addition, it owns a 14,000-square-foot cabinet shop, which allows it to produce millwork in-house.
Choosing with care
SilverLining owes much of its growth to word of mouth and references. Over the years, that has allowed SilverLining to be more selective about who and what it devotes time too. The company looks at approximately $200-million worth of work annually, some of which it takes on, some it turns down.
“There’s a little more selectivity in the kinds of projects we think are well-suited for us,” says Wiener, who prefers clients who plan to live in their homes for a long time.
“We want to make sure that clients have an enjoyable experience working with the company and that SilverLining provides top notch quality. We want clients to be super delighted with every detail,” Wiener says, adding, “there’s no such thing as an unimportant detail.”
Of course, clients do eventually sell their apartments, and Wiener is proud of the fact that many include “Built by SilverLining Inc.” in the real estate sales material, proof that the work SilverLining executes holds up over time.
In fact, when Wiener tours prospective clients’ homes to see completed jobs, he often shows them projects SilverLining finished recently and others it finished five or more years ago.
“They always say, ‘I can’t believe you finished this so long ago. It’s perfect,’ or ‘It’s beautiful,’” Wiener says. “I love that because I feel like they understand that paying a couple percent more lasts so much longer … I want to build projects that in 20 years looks basically like the day we walked out.”
The concept, he says, is not to cut corners, not to do things that are “okay.”
Seeing clients through life changes
To keep projects in top shape, SilverLining launched a service department about 10 years ago. That allows clients to sign up for service contracts, which include quarterly visits to do things like reseal stone, touch up paint, replace shower gaskets before they yellow, clean door hinges, and so on.
The service department is on call for “life damage.” It will, for instance, refinish stained countertops or fix floors scratched during a party. Of course, if SilverLining feels it didn’t build something correctly, it will take care of the issue for free.
When properties do change hands, clients often connect the new homeowners to SilverLining.
“We build for people forever,” Wiener says. “And sometimes there’s a life change and they need to sell, but then the new people call us, both because of the service department or because they want to make some tweaks.”
As clients’ children move out, SilverLining is often called in to convert kids’ rooms into exercise rooms. Or as grandchildren are born, SilverLining will come in to add a nursery and grandkid-proof a home. When clients downsize or upsize, they tend to stick with SilverLining, too.
“That’s a wonderful feeling, that they’re having us back in, and that’s happened a lot,” Wiener says. “It’s great that we’ve kept the relationship.”
It’s that repeat business that makes Wiener most proud; and those relationships that have stood the test of time bode well for another 30 years.
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