Rumors Swirl Around Status of Notorious Contractor
StructureTech, a New York City-based general contractor, folded without warning this fall. Industry personnel have an idea of what the company might be plotting.
In September, the notorious New York-based construction company StructureTech seemingly vanished overnight with hardly a warning.
StructureTech had long been known as a bad contractor in the Big Apple’s buildings industry. Over the past few years—but also, really, since its founding in 2008—StructureTech has been sued for myriad reasons, including racial discrimination and worker negligence on the job site. The contractor had also long been notorious for hiring bad subcontractors on the non-union side, often leading to a lack of fair wages for laborers.
StructureTech, according to the NYCDCC, abandoned its active job sites in New York on September 15, 2022, and that same week sent communications to clients vaguely stating that they were shutting down operations immediately. It turns out that this sudden shutdown included ceasing payments due to clients; multiple vendors have since filed lawsuits against the company for money owed or for breaching contracts. Concrete form and fabrication company Architectural Polymers, Inc. and an unnamed roofing product distributor were reportedly among those several vendors. Their cases are currently pending but not much information is available to the public. There does seem to be proof, though, of multiple active mechanics’ liens—legal documents that reserve rights to seek compensation in the face of nonpayment by a client—filed against StructureTech by various subcontractors and suppliers who did not receive wages for projects they completed or materials they provided.
One non-union contractor tactic for when the going gets tough — fold up shop and open up elsewhere under an assumed name, and walk away from your creditors. It seems to work.
A recent ad for StructureTechNY in ConnectedRE Magazine, offers "full life-cycle heavy construction services."
What happened to StructureTech?
“StructureTech, a pretty big player in the industry, was in business one day and then overnight, they sent letters to the general contractor saying they couldn’t fulfill their contracts,” said Jim Makin, a representative at the Area Standards Department of the New York City District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC).
But there’s more to it than the company simply shutting down. StructureTech has allegedly reopened operations—in New Jersey, where it can’t be followed by its financial problems due to jurisdiction.
“Their problems were in New York, so they went to New Jersey, seeming to kind of reform their company under another name,” Makin explained. “It’s all the same players. This happens a lot with contractors—when they run out of options, they simply reform.” A worker who was employed by StructureTech for about a decade was briefly in contact with the NYCDCC, and said that he was let go but then purportedly went back to work for the contractor in New Jersey the following month.
Of course, the company’s alleged move to New Jersey is currently surrounded by much conjecture, with not much documentation available to prove that StructureTech has actually reformed as of yet. But those at the NYCDCC familiar with the actions of unscrupulous construction contractors have seen countless situations like this before, so it’s pretty clear to them what might be going on. Makin predicts that StructureTech will probably “lay low” in the Garden State for a while, and then return to the city once their situation is less chaotic.
“This contractor knows that the jurisdictions don’t match up in New York and New Jersey, so if they’re in trouble in New York, someone has to dig over there to find out what’s going on,” Makin said, explaining why StructureTech made the move across state lines. “They might have assets to be moved, but also, these companies tend to burn everything to the ground and step away.”
The one-page StructureTechNY website offers no information, just an email entry form to receive "more information."
Not a rare occurrence
What has happened with this bad contractor is indeed unsurprising to those in the construction industry, who hardly consider the situation noteworthy since it is so commonplace.
As Ed McWilliams, former director of organizing for the NYCDCC, told Union-Built Matters, what happened with StructureTech is a pattern with a lot of non-union entities—they come up out of nowhere, gain ample work projects, and then seemingly go out of business overnight. Parkside Construction and Allstate Construction, he said, are a couple of contractors who have gone this route, even leaving big projects in the middle of production so that new contractors have to be found mid-job (something that never happens with union firms).
Sometimes, though, union contractors go the “alter-ego” route—as did Navillus, a union company that created the non-union company ACS in order to avoid obligations to union benefit funds (detailed further here). But companies like StructureTech, as Makin put it, “just go belly up, leave somebody else with the bill, and start over in a brand new way somewhere else.” Many contractors, Makin added, choose to opt for this once they are hit with lawsuits they know they can’t possibly recover from.
The company's LinkedIn profile remains out-of-date, and cites 100 employees.
Rumor has it…
As aforementioned, StructureTech has long been known for turning to non-union operations to cut corners. “They were definitely what you would call a bad contractor,” said Makin. “They didn’t pay people right—there was always issue with pay, but there was nothing gigantic that happened that we could ever get a class action lawsuit against.”
There was briefly buzz that StructureTech filed for Chapter 11, though a lawyer working on the case who reached out to the NYCDCC has since debunked those rumors.
Makin mentioned that there had been word within the industry that StructureTech “had some lien from the government for back taxes.” NYCDCC representatives believe that the contractor was audited and discrepancies were uncovered. For now, watchdog entities like the NYCDCC will be paying close attention to see what moves StructureTech might make next.
“We’ll watch them in New Jersey and see where they go, and if they rebuild, and then it’s just a matter of trying to keep a record of it if they come back to New York,” Makin said.
Jessica Beebe is a multimedia journalist living and working in New York City. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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