ProQuality Demolition: Built by Tearing Down
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – When you’re driving east on Wilson Avenue from downtown Youngstown, you’ll see huge, slate-blue buildings rising among the older structures of the neighborhood. They are the home of ProQuality Demolition.
Owner Cosmo Iamurri built the business by tearing down buildings.
He moved ProQuality Demolition to 1630 Wilson Ave., Youngstown, last year. The property had been an industrial building that caught fire. Iamurri bought it, refurbished it and added on. He hopes his investment in the area prompts some of the neighboring property owners to follow his example.
ProQuality didn’t start with demolition.
Iamurri and his father, Tony Iamurri, bought a sitework, excavation and paving company and started ProQuality Land Development in 1999.
That business, located in Campbell, struggled. So, in 2005, they changed to demolition.
“We were driving down [U.S. Route] 224 one day and my uncle was reading the Construction Journal…,” Iamurri says. “It would tell you about upcoming projects.”
It listed 22 houses that were to be demolished in Youngstown.
“I said, ‘Huh, we can knock down houses.'”
“Why not?’” he says. “I went ahead and bid on the project to knock down the houses.”
The profit the first day was about $200, but he was excited. He decided to stick with demolition. The
company has since razed about 300 houses in Youngstown.
“From there, we started bidding on schools,” he says. “I got familiar with the OSFC [Ohio School Facility Commission] projects.”
The business grew.
“We’ve done over 80 schools and probably 20 hospitals and hundreds of buildings in the last 10 years,” Iamurri says.
His dad retired about eight years ago, so Iamurri now runs the business on his own. ProQuality is one of the top three demolition contractors in Cleveland, where it does most of its work, he says.
“The only big project we’ve done here was in Trumbull County: St. Joe’s Hospital,” he says. “In demolition, there’s not that many big buildings around here.”
The St. Joe’s property covered about 15 acres and the building spanned 400,000 square feet and six stories. That project started in 2022 and stretched into early this year.
While moving into the demolition business was the right move for the company, Iamurri encountered a learning curve early on. At first, he didn’t know anything about the need for dust control at a site. A city inspector told him he needed to use a hose to tamp down the fine powder.
He sent his cousin across the street to buy a garden hose at the dollar store and paid one of the neighbors to tap into their outside spigot. The city inspector returned, telling him he needed to get a permit from the fire department and use a two-inch hose.
Iamurri laughs thinking about that garden hose compared to the expensive equipment he uses now.
“Twenty years later, contractors are still using a two-inch hose and we have dust blowers…,” he says. “They’re like a snow machine. We shoot water in the air with this big machine and it controls dust. The EPA loves this machine.”
Iamurri loves his work.
“When you’re knocking down a building, your heart’s pounding if it’s in a tight situation,” he says. “You’ve got that energy when your heart is pounding. There’s excitement. People are watching.”
He wants his employees to share his love for the work. “The key thing is my employees and respecting them,” Iamurri says. “Without them, we probably wouldn’t make it. We’re a team.”
A team approach fosters growth, he believes, and he prefers a low profile.
The company employs about 20 people depending on the size of the projects it’s undertaking.
“The company has been successful for a lot of reasons. But I think the important reason is having a good team, the employees,” Iamurri says. “And making sure they’re happy and they’re enjoying what they’re doing.”
Most of his employees have been with him for at least five years.
Iamurri was born on the south side of Youngstown. The family later moved to Boardman, where he attended school. When he wanted to move his business from Campbell, he decided to return to his roots and invest in Youngstown. He also liked improvements underway in the city.
“I started in Youngstown,” he says. “That was what one of my biggest highlights. If it wasn’t for Youngstown, I probably never would have gotten into the demo business. I started with the 22 houses and it kind of changed my life.”
He declined to say how much he invested in the Wilson Avenue property but it stands out. His home does too.
Iamurri lives on Clingan Road in Poland and describes his home as modern and industrial. A big blue pond is adjacent to the road. The driveway leads to the house overlooking Lake Hamilton.
Iamurri wants to expand the ProQuality recycling division in the future. He started with recycling at the Wilson Avenue location, accepting clean hard fill but paused that operation a few months ago.
Rather than being dumped or added to a landfill, materials like concrete could be recycled. Iamurri would then sell the recycled material back to the community at a discounted rate.
“What happens is you have big slabs of concrete, blacktop, dirt — everything is mixed,” he said. “A developer comes here 20 years from now and tries to develop this 20 acres and whatever they dumped into a hole, it’s impossible.”
When he does a demolition project, he separates materials so they can be recycled more easily rather than ending up in a landfill. He’s talking with the city about purchasing some property near his company so he can start a recycling center.
The parking lot of his business is made from a stone base of recycled materials. The blacktop was installed by RT Vernal Paving and Excavating.
One thing that sets ProQuality Demolition apart from most other demolition companies is a high-reach excavator that allows his company to demolish taller buildings more safely.
“Safety is No. 1,” he says. “You’ve got to care about your employees.”
ProQuality’s equipment doesn’t bear the company name. Instead, they sport the company logo, a red-eyed shark baring its teeth.
It’s a nickname he acquired on the job. If he thought a job was moving slowly, he’d jump on a machine and knock it down quickly. Then he’d leave to go to the next meeting or site on his agenda.
“My team was like, ‘You’re like a shark. You attack and then you leave for us to clean it up,” he says.
Iamurri worked with his design team and developed the shark logo.
“Everyone loves the shark, even kids,” he says.
Pictured at top: ProQuality Demolition owner Cosmo Iamurri, center, stands with Liz Gaskins, executive assistant, and Gia Larney, administrative assistant, outside the business on Wilson Avenue.
Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.