Words: MASONRY Magazine
Photos: Arch Masonry & Restoration
A collaborative team committed to integrity, value, education, and continuous improvement.
In 2010, Christian Stein and Joe Bonifate partnered together and started Arch Masonry Inc. Christian always had an interest in real estate and construction, working as a consultant with Coopers & Lybrand in New York City, as well as working in the gas station industry in 2000.
“I have made great friends in this industry and have been fortunate to meet so many good people,” Christian says. He appreciates the honesty, integrity, instinct, and risks that mason contractors endure daily. Most of all, he enjoys hearing their success stories, and their ability to get back up after failure happens, and that is an impressive motivator in this industry.
Similarly, Joe always had an interest in construction and would spend most of his weekends as a young boy helping out his father on projects. He entered a masonry program at a vocational school in the last two years of high school and was a hod carrier during his summer breaks. Following Joe’s graduation, he began his four-year apprenticeship, during which he started his family, and shortly after completing his apprenticeship, Joe was promoted to foreman.
A few years as a foreman, the small projects on the weekends became larger and an opportunity presented itself to Joe, changing weekend projects into working full time. Joe started Bonifate Masonry and grew his business to 25 employees. Then, Joe and Christian were introduced by a mutual general contractor that Joe was working for at the time.
When they started Arch Masonry Inc. in 2010, there were about 20 employees who collectively voted and came up with the name of the business. After a few years, the growth within the company came with restoration projects of all sizes and scope. They had decided to expand its restoration presence and create a division within the company that was solely dedicated to restoration.
This division has estimators, crew leaders, and trade workers. With this major change came the change of the company’s name to better reflect the immense dedication they have to masonry and restoration. In 2016, the company began operating under the name Arch Masonry & Restoration. Today, there are just over 100 works in the field and about 20 million dollars in combined annual sales in all of their departments — masonry, restoration, and concrete.
Arch Masonry & Restoration averages around 260 jobs annually, due to the wide variety of projects they work on. “We have a wide range of tradespeople on our team and can bid on projects across many sectors,” states Christian and Joe. They take on everything from projects that can take over a year to complete, to some that can be completed in a day. Projects include old schools, churches, and more in need of restoration work. “Each project has its own story, a unique history, or something that makes it stand out,” Joe explains.
One project that stands out as a good example of their projects is The Pennsylvanian, an old train station and apartment building in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. Not only is this the location of a large landmark, but it was also the first project where they used a drone extensively to complete the initial survey to provide a proposal.
Recently, Arch Masonry & Restoration completed a new unit masonry project that stands out is the Aquatic Center At Mylan Park. The building houses an Olympic-size swimming pool along with several other pools, as well as stadium seating and locker facilities. This project took just over a year to complete from the first unit laid on a footing to the last washing of veneer, according to Joe and Christian.
Involvement in the Industry
Arch Masonry & Restoration have been members of the MCAA since 2012, and both Joe and Christian have been active in some way. Christian is on the Masonry Foundation Board and Joe was a Regional VP. Before that, Joe was also an active member of the Legislative Committee as a Co-Chair.
“Our company has been an advocate for local high school trade programs. We typically visit each local masonry program once or twice a year and have hired graduates the last few summers,” Christian shares. “We need to do better introducing young people to the trade, educating and retaining them, and as a whole, we need to do more collectively to increase market share.”
“When I meet young people whose core values align with our own and show an interest in learning the trade, I get excited,” Joe says. While he no longer works with masonry tools, he lives vicariously through their apprentices. “When someone has integrity, passion, and work ethic, it makes teaching the job and technical skills easier and a lot more enjoyable.”