If we provide an opportunity to have a work-life balance, you are surrounding yourself with happy, healthy people.

Sacramento Business Journal, October 30, 2015
A+ Employers Award / Best Places to Work
Small Company Winner 2015: DesCor Builders

People who want a job at DesCor Builders are required to write their own eulogies. If they mention DesCor, they have to start over. “We tell them that DesCor shouldn’t enter into any of this, because your purpose in life should not be to work at DesCor,” said Neal Cordeiro, co-founder of the general contracting firm.

The Rancho Cordova company wants employees to have a meaningful life outside of the office. “We don’t want workaholics. We want people who can bring their best selves home every night. We don’t want families to get leftovers,” Cordeiro said.

DesCor’s owners have even passed up opportunities for projects in the Bay Area because they don’t want their employees to be commuting or working remotely.

“People are our bottom line. If we take care of them, our bottom line will be just fine.”

– Brad Des Jardin, President & CEO

“We are the only contractor we know who has made a specific focus to not leave town,” Cordeiro said. “We want our guys home for dinner. We want them to be coaching.

That doesn’t mean Cordeiro and cofounder Brad Des Jardin let their employees coast.

“They don’t demand less from you at work. We all work at a very high level. But we are able to work efficiently,” said Rob Albertsen, a preconstruction estimator who joined the company about eight months ago. “There’s always a steep learning curve when you transition as an employee, but I’ve learned a lot. They are able to support and teach what you need to be a well-rounded builder. We hold each other to high standards. We have a clear mission.”

The learning curve starts right at the job interview. When estimator Andy Laughton interviewed, he met with all of the project managers and estimators, and a superintendent.

“They each got an opportunity to interview me, and I had the opportunity to interview them. We talked about the position, the environment, also activities outside of work,” Laughton said. “Basically, the conversation went on and we determined how well we could work with each other.”

Once they’re hired, new employees go through a seminar that sets out the purpose of DesCor. The hiring and orientation results in a team spirit right out of the gate, but also helps promote a work-life balance.

“If we need to take a couple of days off, we can. There are other people who can step in and watch our jobs for us,” said superintendent Mark Atencio. “We are not forced to stay on the job.”

The pay is at the higher end for the industry. Atencio said, noting that Sacramento’s commercial construction industry is small enough that people get to know how well different companies compensate their employees. DesCor covers 100 per cent of employee medical insurance and 50 percent for the rest of the family.

The main office is one large room, so communication is very transparent, Laughton said.

“If you need help, if you need to bounce an idea off someone, all you need to do is look left or right and someone is there,” he said.

That includes Des Jardin and Cordeiro.

“They are always available. I can call them by phone, 1 can go into the office, we can have lunch,” Atencio said. “The people are all willing to help you out if you have questions and concerns.”

When DesCor employees have fun, families are included. In the summer there’s a family picnic, and in the fall an Oktoberfest that doubles as a fundraiser for the Sierra Forever Families adoption agency. Contractors and the community at large buy tickets to attend, too. DesCor has been averaging about $20,000 a year for the nonprofit, enough to place four children into permanent homes.

This past summer, DesCor put together a team for the Wipeout Run, a 5k course with larger than-life obstacles. The company paid the entry fee for every employee and family members who wanted to go.

At the company holiday party, the bosses specifically address each employee.

Loyalty also plays a big part. DesCor stood by its employees through the recession and didn’t lay off anyone.

“We adapted our business dramatically and quickly to make sure that would occur,” Cordeiro said. “Our volume dropped a lot, but we kept every one of our employees. And we kept our essential perks.”

“If we provide an opportunity to have a work-life balance, you are surrounding yourself with happy, healthy people,” he said. “People (and clients) want to work with happy healthy people.”

Robert Celaschi |Correspondent | Sacramento Business Journal
October 30, 2015