“We love our Komatsu machines”
Work doesn’t stop for the Zara family at
5:00 p.m. Even after the equipment is shut down
and the shop lights are turned off, this family’s
commitment to its craft continues.
“It doesn’t matter what time or what day it is,
we’re talking shop,” said Araz Industries Chief
of Field Operations Graz Zara. “If we go out to
dinner, we are planning tomorrow’s schedule or
we are talking about what happened during the
day. It’s a 24/7 passion with us.”
For the Zara family, this constant immersion in
construction is woven into its familial DNA. Graz
is the third generation of Zaras in the construction
business. His grandfather, Graziano, started Zara
Contracting in the 1940s and had a hand in some of
New York’s well-known endeavors, including the
World’s Fair site and the Long Island Expressway.
Graz’s father, Samuel, followed suit with
S. Zara and Sons and focused on heavy highway
and large sewer jobs.
Family remained an important ingredient when
it was Graz’s turn. He and his wife, Mirra, started
Araz Industries, Inc. – which is Zara in reverse – in
1992. Mirra is President, and their son, Sam, has
been with the company for seven years and is
currently a Project Manager.
“It’s who we are,” joked Sam. “We work
together during the day, then go home
and talk about it at night. This company is
everything to us.”
Doing it their way
Even with a long family history in the
construction industry around New York City, Graz
and Mirra were determined for Araz Industries to
succeed on its own merits. The couple went all-in
on the new venture.
“We borrowed money, took a second mortgage
on our house and used credit cards,” recalled
Mirra. “We didn’t start off with much, but it was
what we wanted to do.”
“We had an interest in this business and believed
in ourselves,” said Graz. “We are in it together.
We’re husband and wife – partners in life and
Araz Industries, a certified Women’s Business
Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business
Enterprise, focuses on utility installation and
handles grading and excavating as well. The
company depends on its efficiency and a
well-managed staff to complete roughly one
dozen jobs a year with a staff of only 15 people.
“Our goal from day one has been to be
successful, not big – there’s a difference,” stated
Graz. “I’ve seen companies grow for the sake of
growing, and they end up with a lot of headaches
and eventually struggle. I like our size now.
We can do our work, go home and sleep well
The strategy has paid off for the Zaras. After
completing approximately $350,000 of business
for its first years, it now routinely averages
$6 million annually.
Graz says that the secret to Araz Industries’
success is no secret at all. “Hard work. Period. We
do good work. We don’t have huge egos, and we
care. We just want to do the job correctly.”
Small staff, big projects
Araz Industries has built its reputation by
consistently delivering quality results for its
customers. That dedication resulted in what
Mirra calls the company’s big break.
“We were brought in for a job on Route 112
in 2010 by a general contractor who needed
help,” said Mirra. “There were some strict state
guidelines to meet. We performed 25-foot-deep
cuts and installed 12,000 feet of drainage pipe.
“It was an absolutely huge endeavor, but it
put us on the map,” she added. “It boosted our
reputation. People heard what Araz Industries
accomplished, and that earned us a lot of
credibility within the industry.”
After the assignment wrapped up, Araz
Industries became a sought-after subcontractor
for companies with big projects and short time
lines. Last summer, the organization completed a
high-profile contract on Long Island. It installed
all of the on-site/off-site sewer and drainage
at a new Interstate 495 rest stop, which totaled
7,000 feet of force main, and 1,500 feet of
drainage that was up to 15 feet deep in spots.
It also performed all of the erosion control at
The effort was also completed in just
three months and under the watchful eye of
Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“We put in 10 hours a day, six days a week to
get it done,” recalled Graz. “It was a big deal,
and it was fast-tracked. The governor was at
the site once a month. We had a tight deadline
and a lot to do, but we made it happen.”
The company is currently in the middle of
another specialty project, the expansion of the
Long Island Rail Road between Deer Park and
Farmingdale. Once again, Araz Industries is
tackling some unique issues in a short time.
“We’re trenching underneath and alongside
the railroad tracks to install a concrete trough,
conduits and pull boxes that will house specialty
signal and high-power cables,” Graz explained.
“This was another opportunity for us. This is the
second of a three-phase, $2 billion contract. It’s
great to be a part of it.”
Araz has performed work for major agencies
such as the New York State Department of
Transportation, Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey, Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, PSEG, New York Power Authority,
School Construction Authority and Dormitory
Authority of the State of New York.
Komatsu gets the work done
When Araz Industries needs to get tasks
done quickly and efficiently, it trusts Komatsu
equipment from Edward Ehrbar and Sales Rep
Daniel Stanton Jr.
“We love our Komatsu machines,” shared
Graz. “They are smooth, strong, efficient and
they last. We have a PC160LC-7 excavator that
we bought eight years ago, and it still performs
for us everyday. That’s what keeps us coming
back to Komatsu.”
The company’s latest addition to its fleet was a
PC88MR-8 excavator, obtained specifically for the
Long Island Rail Road expansion.
“It’s the perfect-sized machine for the job,” noted
Graz. “The zero-tail, offset boom makes it easy for
us to operate in this environment. It fits nicely in
the right-of-way and has excellent vision out of the
cab, so our operator doesn’t have to worry about
banging into anything. Plus, it can handle a lot for a
compact machine – we thought we would need to
use our PC160, but the PC88 is taking care of it.”
The company also owns a Komatsu PC350LC-8
excavator, three wheel loaders and two dozers.
When Araz Industries wants to add equipment, it
turns to Ehrbar and Stanton.
“We consider Ehrbar a partner in our business,
100 percent,” said Mirra. “We are committed to
them because they are committed to us. A perfect
example is how we got the PC88. We wanted a
small excavator, so we did our homework. Ehrbar
was able to accommodate our needs quickly.
Within a week, we had a deal in place, and they
helped have a custom 12-inch bucket shipped to us
overnight as well. They go above and beyond, and
we appreciate that.”
When Graz and Mirra think about the future of
Araz Industries, it looks very similar to the present.
With Sam in the business and their youngest
son, Alex, involved in the industry with plans to
become a Professional Engineer, it seems like a
fourth generation of Zaras will continue to carry on
the family tradition.
“We’re a construction family,” said Graz. “Both
construction and family are very important to us,
and I think that is something we have instilled in
Sam and Alex. We’re happy that they want careers
in this area. It’s a legacy we’re proud of.”