Wayne Bellet, of Manhattan-based exterior maintenance firm Bellet Construction, is getting a dose of his own medicine. At the time of this interview, it’s his own office that’s under construction, he explains over the racket of dueling hammers in the background. The commercial condo building that houses his company is currently experiencing gas line issues, and the repair efforts have made Bellet acutely aware of the inconvenience such work can impose on the tenants of the building, the majority of whom are medical professionals.
“I can’t imagine not having hot water as a physician,” exclaims Bellet. “You’ve got to wash your hands!”
This statement is reflective of Bellet’s disposition when it comes to his work. His days are typically dedicated to solving other people’s problems—which he readily admits is his favorite part of the job. “I love when my customers come to me with a problem, I love a phone call that starts out ‘Wayne, I’ve got a problem!’ and I yell back, ‘Tell it to Bellet!’ It’s kind of hokey, but it always works because people remember that I’m the guy who fixes the exterior of their properties.”
The exterior maintenance industry is far-reaching, especially in a vertical metropolis like New York City, which is a sea of structures—new, old, commercial and residential—that are constantly in need of maintenance. The upkeep of building facades is not something that is done for purely aesthetic reasons; it is a part of an ongoing process that keeps the city evolving and reinventing itself through repair and replacement.
An Outside Job
So what does an exterior contractor like Bellet do, and what kind of problems do they work to resolve on a typical job? According to Bellet, the work of a contractor can be compared to that of a dentist. “I hate to use that analogy, but it’s very similar—you come to me with a pain or a problem and you want it fixed. You don’t want to dilly-dally, you don’t want to think about it, you just want it to go away.”