The goal is to create an environment that is happy and healthy. People want to be around healthy people.

Sacramento Business Journal, October 18, 2013
A+ Employers Award / Best Places to Work
Small Company Winner 2013: DesCor Builders

Rowland Fellows knew there was something different about DesCor Builders the day he interviewed for a job at the construction company. Fellows found himself facing a four-person interview pane, a situation that had made him uncomfortable during job interviews at other companies.

“In order to be a mature company, you have to give back to the community that’s giving to you.”

– Neal Cordeiro, Vice President & CFO

But rather than trying to intimidate him, the interviewers at DesCor seemed more interested in finding out if Fellows and DesCor would be a good fit for each other.

“It didn’t feel like I was being put on the spot or they were trying to trick me,” said Fellows, 31.

Fellows has worked as project engineer for DesCor since April 2012. It is his first job since going back to school to earn a degree in construction management.

DesCor, he said, has been supportive of his professional development through both personal encouragement and training. For instance, several of the company’s project managers are teaming up to offer a class for their co-workers on construction scheduling using Microsoft Project.

“You can tell they want me to succeed for me, not just for them.” Fellows said.

Brad Des Jardin and Neal Cordeiro founded DesCor Builders 8 years ago with the philosophy that employees’ families should come first. The goal is to create an environment that is “happy and healthy,” said Cordeiro, who is DesCor’s vice president and chief financial officer.

The good vibe, in turn, is noticed and appreciated by DesCor’s customers and associates.

“People want to be around healthy people,” Cordeiro said. “It’s fun to be at work. And customers want to be around us, too.”

DesCor’s vacation policy, which includes three weeks a year for a new worker, is one way the company makes it easy for employees to spend time with their families. Another way is the flexible work schedules that are available. Three of DesCor’s employees – two of whom have small children at home – take advantage of a four-day work week.

Construction work is deadline-driven, and there are times when an employee can’t make it home for dinner or needs to work on a weekend. In those cases, the worker gets to take the time off later, as a long weekend, for example, or as an extension to vacation time.

Employees and their families get to know each other through company gatherings, including holiday parties, picnics and outings to River Cats games.

The integrity of the owners and of the company as a whole, is another reason employees think DesCor is a great place to work.

Much of DesCor’s work is repeat business, an impressive feat in the construction industry, said project manager Joe Giger, who has worked at the company for seven years.

Giger, 32, said he appreciates that employees are entrusted to make decisions, such as approving change orders, without always needing to get approval from supervisors or the company’s owners. Employees, he added, who come to DesCor from other construction firms notice the open and collaborative atmosphere.

“It does separate us from other companies,” Giger said.

Adding to the sense of integrity at DesCor is an honorary job title bestowed on all workers: director of corporate ethics. That means everyone is responsible for safeguarding the company’s good reputation, Cordeiro said. An example would be quickly correcting a mistake in an agreement with a subcontractor, even if the sub didn’t catch it and the mistake would have benefited DesCor.

“It has become an absolutely self-policing thing for this business,” Cordeiro said.

Community service is another way DesCor brings its employees together. Each year the company organizes a service project that nearly all works are involved in. This year, DesCor is participating in PARKing Day, during which the company will convert a parking space at 20th and K Streets into a park-like environment. The project is part of a world-wide campaign to demonstrate what cities could look like if there were fewer cars and more open space.

Last year for community service, the company completed a major renovation of an elderly man’s home in Oak Park, during which employees donated $65,000 and 750 hours of labor. And the year before that, it managed and built – along with its subcontractors – a youth facility in midtown Sacramento.

“In order to be a mature company, you have to give back to the community that’s giving to you,” Cordeiro said.

Last week, DesCor hosted an Oktoberfest dinner to raise money for Sierra Forever Families. The event brings together DesCor workers and their families, along with clients, architects, subcontractors and the general community to raid money for the nonprofit adoption agency. With an admission price of $40 per person, this year’s goal was to raise $12,000 to $15,000, enough to cover costs of placing two to three children in adoptive homes.

DesCor employees organize the annual event, taking charge of everything from decorating and cooking to coordinating the music. Last year, Giger worked in the kitchen.

“It’s really rewarding to know we’re placing kids in homes.” Giger said.

Elaine Goodman | Correspondent | Sacramento Business Journal
October 18, 201