After retiring from the U.S. Navy’s Special Forces Deep Sea Diving Unit in 1997, Tyrone Salazar dove right into designing and installing kitchens and bathrooms. A friend invited him along on a contracting job and Salazar loved it right away. He worked in the field in various capacities for several years before taking his talents to Ozone Park and opening AmeriPride Design Center in 2010.
Like deep sea diving, design and construction work requires one who is dedicated and detail-oriented.
“It’s one of the hardest jobs in the Navy,” Salazar said, as 80 percent of the people who try out for it don’t pass the tests. “It’s very physically demanding.”
Customers know they can trust Salazar to renovate their homes with precision and care. He has been more than 300 feet under water, where it is pitch dark, sometimes for 5 to 6 hours at a time, to repair ships, remove explosives and even attach two-ton pieces of metal to submarines. He was also part of a search and rescue team.
When he got into home improvement, “I tried it out and loved it,” Salazar said. “A project starts off so basic and then changes into something in your head. The fantasy becomes reality.”
Salazar believes that contracting is not about how you start the job, it’s how you finish. “If you take someone’s hard earned money, you have to come through.”
AmeriPride specializes in kitchens and bathrooms, providing installations and designing, including three-dimensional renderings for floor plans and layouts. According to Salazar, most contractors outsource some of these tasks or fumble toward the end.
“Kitchens and bathrooms are where people feel comfortable, so it’s a very stressful process. I have to be there holding their hands,” Salazar said. “I have to be a good listener because I was hired to work for the customer and give them advice.”
AmeriPride carries a variety of styles to accommodate customers with traditional tastes and those who favor contemporary designs. Most of the pieces are manufactured in America, though some are imported from China and some tiles are from Spain and Italy. AmeriPride also offers a range of options, including custom-made cabinets — and all wood products are real, not particle board.
Traditional kitchens are more popular because many people are afraid to try contemporary styles, said Salazar, who described his own taste as “traditional eclectic.”
AmeriPride does business all over New York City and even completed entire kitchens and bathrooms from the ground up in houses that were decimated by Hurricane Sandy.
AmeriPride is located at 95-01 103rd Avenue in Ozone Park, in a building that was vacant for three years. The store hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and by appointment only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Salazar can be reached by phone at (718) 473-0906.