Article Printed in The Blue Book's "Who's Who" Written By Dom Calabrese
It all began in 2003 in Massachusetts with a man and his son. They used a pickup truck with two ladders to perform a variety of small side jobs in residential and commercial construction.
Today, that modest effort has blossomed into a full-scale general contracting firm, Down to Earth Construction (DTE), which boasts annual revenues of about $1.5 million. Headquartered in Dracut, Massachusetts, the firm has six full-time employees and also employs several subcontractors, including carpenters.
“I was eager to work and get my hands on any project I could,” recalls Founder and Owner Cisco Borges. “I had just left a construction firm that paid me well but didn’t offer the respect or appreciation I felt I deserved, so I decided to launch my own business.”
Cisco and his son, Westley, started in commercial work right off the bat. “We began doing finish carpentry, from trim work to door frames and hardware, then started doing metal framing and drywall,” Cisco says.
He chose the name Down to Earth Construction because it embodies everything his business is about.
“Our name reflects what we are and the values we hold dear—a down-to-earth, people-orientated company that prides itself on offering its customers outstanding service while treating its employees like family,” Cisco says.
At the heart of DTE are Cisco and two family members—Westley, who serves as Foreman, and daughter-in-law Stephanie Borges, who serves as Office Manager—plus another top-gun Foreman, Al Chaves.
DTE serves clients in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The company specializes in renovating banks, retail outlets, hotels, apartments and private offices to accommodate both current and future occupants.
“We work closely with design firms, property management, architectural firms and larger general contracting companies,” Cisco says. Recent projects include complete remodels for Avidia Bank in Leominster, Massachusetts, and Athol Savings Bank in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. “We are in the process of remodeling Athol’s second-floor offices while also completing work at the VCA South Shore (Weymouth) Animal Hospital,” Cisco says.
Additional projects include remodeling Winchester Savings Bank in Winchester, Massachusetts, and a doctor’s office in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Focus on Customer Satisfaction
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Cisco had hopes of significantly increasing the company’s 2020 revenue. However, those hopes have been dashed. “With what is happening to our country now, we will be lucky if we can match what we did last year,” he acknowledges.
Despite the gloomy times, Cisco remains confident, touting his company’s top qualities: longevity in the business, a proven track record for providing excellent service and a hard-earned reputation for getting the job done.
That reputation is built on a foundation of extensive partnerships in the community that DTE has developed and nurtured over the years. “We have many friends in the industry that we partner with and a large pool of talented people to pull from who can assist with our projects,” Cisco says.
Cisco and his top managers take a hands-on approach to guarantee that each project the firm undertakes is successful. To him, a successful effort is one that is done on time and with a minor punch list. He emphasizes that if there are any problems or if something is installed incorrectly, his team will take care of it immediately.
“We place a lot of responsibility on our foremen,” he says. “We prefer to lead by example, contributing and fine-tuning our best practices and work processes to ensure quality results that everyone at our company can take great pride in.”
The result is a high level of customer satisfaction, Cisco says. “Our customers appreciate that we are able to complete projects in a timely fashion. They all say, ‘Give it to Cisco and it will get done!’ This way, our builders, customers, everyone is happy.”
Cisco believes the key to his firm’s longevity and prosperity is having a great team of people in place that is always willing to share knowledge with others and can accept constructive criticism to enhance their performance on the job.
“All our people get along well and have respect for one another,” he says, adding that the willingness to be a team player is a crucial factor in getting hired at DTE.
That ability to get along and work as a team carries over to Cisco and members of his own family. Father and son have built the company together, and they understand one another.
“Dad taught me everything I know,” Westley says, “and then we get out of each other’s way.”
The entire DTE team is treated like family, Cisco says, with a strong sense of family values embedded in the company’s day-to-day operations. Those values include hard work, treating people the way you would like to be treated and being thankful for blessings. To help foster that sense of family, employees participate in cookouts, camping, parties and other social activities. “This helps build morale and, in turn, productivity and performance,” he says. He notes that treating workers like family bolsters employee retention and longevity. Additionally, Cisco believes in treating his employees well, offering bonuses, personal days off and paid vacations.
The team at DTE takes pride in supporting the community. Cisco and his employees donate time, money, construction supplies and even blood on occasion to such organizations as the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, St. Joseph’s Indian School, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and local veteran causes.
Cisco has big plans for the company to continue to evolve. “We started out as a subcontractor, then become a general contractor that self- performs framing, carpentry and construction management. My hope is we will evolve into a construction management company only,” he says. “To help us achieve our goals, we need to do a better job of getting our name out there and connecting with owners in architecture, real estate and other areas.”
The self-described workaholic is optimistic about the future, relying on his philosophy for success: “No job is too small, and we aim to please.”