GROW

The Business of a New York City Street

A look at the companies that provide traffic-light maintenance, newspaper boxes, and pedestrian signal boxes for one of the trendiest neighborhoods in New York City
Intersection of Prince and Mercer Streets, SoHo, New York City | 01.16.11 2:49 P.M.
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Traffic-light maintenance

Last fall, Hellman Electric stripped the stickers off every traffic-light pole in the SoHo neighborhood and gave the poles a fresh coat of paint. In addition to installing and maintaining traffic-light systems, Hellman, based in the Bronx, installs closed-circuit cameras and lays fiber-optic cable for the city. John G. Hellman founded the company in 1931. Current CEO Steven Lazzaro bought the business with two partners in 1991. It has 150 employees and also provides services to New York State and the city's John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

Newspaper box

Most New Yorkers would probably recognize this iconic red box as a place to grab a copy of The Village Voice. Go Plastics in Canton, Georgia, has made more than 3,000 boxes for the Voice in the past two decades, including the one shown here. Ed Gollob founded Go Plastics in 1987. Today, the $5 million company has 70 employees and makes street boxes for the Learning Annex and Gotham Writers' Workshop in New York City and for other clients nationwide.

Pedestrian signal boxes

To accommodate non-English-speaking residents and visitors, in 2001 the NYC Department of Transportation replaced its Walk/Don't Walk signals with signals featuring the easily recognizable symbols of a red hand and a person walking. This box, which was made by General Traffic Equipment in Newburgh, New York, uses LEDs, which are more energy efficient than the incandescent bulbs in older versions. President Ray Staffon founded the company in 1981. It has 20 employees, $4 million in annual revenue, and customers around the country.

IMAGE: Kevin Cooley
Last updated: Mar 1, 2011




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