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Queens Chronicle

Good fences make excellent neighbors

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Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 12:00 am

Aldo Sibeni is a sinewy, soft-spoken sportsman who would not look out of place cycling the perimeter of the Champs-Élysées. His saffron T-shirt reads “Le Tour France” and the cautionary color matches his bicycle, his preferred daily means of transportation from Boundary Fence and Railing Systems, Inc., the Richmond Hill business he owns, to his home in New Hyde Park, L.I.

Blinding yellow may be a smart choice for the biking businessman. Judging by Boundary’s successes, the entrepreneur is likely no stranger to hitting the bike path long after the sun has set. He has held court at 131-02 Jamaica Ave. for 27 years — no small feat in a neighborhood that has seen its share of failing businesses. He also employs 120 workers in a time of rampant lay-offs and plans to purchase the 47,500-square-foot property he currently leases from the city’s Economic Development Corp.

“When I first started, there were three of us: a counterperson, truck driver and myself,” Sibeni said. “Because of the Home Depot effect, when they came in the late 70s, the entire business changed. If you didn’t make it, you couldn’t sell it. Little by little, we started making everything.”

Aluminum, steel and wire are found in every crevice of Boundary’s industrial space — a silver serpentine coil here, a heaving slab of light-wood bamboo there — they’re all testaments to the business’ success. But, perhaps the best indicator of its future growth potential has more in common with Sibeni’s bicycle and passion for health and well-being — he has worked out a deal with the gym down the block to offer all his employees free memberships — then it does razor coil.

Boundary has recently received preliminary approval from the New York City Industrial Development Agency for up to $1.4 million in sales and real estate tax benfits. Because of its location in the South Jamaica Empire Zone, the company also qualifies for $425,235 in Empire Zone wage tax credits. Thank to the benefits, the company can continue on its path to using only eco-friendly green building materials. Between 30 and 50 percent of its electrical usage is through solar energy and Boundary is in the process of installing cogeneration systems that will burn natural gas to supply 100 percent of electrical usage at New York Vinyl Extrusion facility.

“When the first solar panels came, I said ‘that’s the way we should go,’” Sibeni recalled. “I wasn’t aware of the incentives and rebates, I was going to do it anyway. It’s still very expensive, but it pays off because you’re cutting back in burning coal and diesel fuel.”

The incentive package, part of the city’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan designed to help business owners thrive in the poor economy, has also encouraged Sibeni to stay put in the neighborhood, instead of moving the entire operation to one of four other locations in New Jersey, Long Island and Upstate New York, all of which cost less to operate, he said.

When the recession hit last September, Sibeni said he was forced to lay off 20 of his workers, almost all of whom live in Richmond Hill. What began as a nightmare scenario ended more like an extendedvacation. Sibeni was able to rehire all his workers thanks to the city’s package.

“We’ve become such a big part of the local West Indian community in Richmond Hill,” said Sibeni’s son Chris, 27, who works as the general manager at Boundary. “I think it’s so important that all the money made here is spent in the local community.”

As part of the program, Boundary has agreed to help the city beautify the surrounding area. Architects are in the process of dreaming up a new decorative sign for the front of the establishment and Sibeni seems more than willing to pitch in any way he can.

“Some people think this is a bad area, but it isn’t,” he said. “This is a good neighborhood with families who keep their homes neat and clean. And everyone knows us here.”

For more information, visit the website at Boundary-Fences.com.

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