D’Amato Builders & Advisors
Michael D’Amato founded D’Amato Builders & Advisors (DBA) in 2005 as a small, but fast-growing construction management firm. “I got into this industry by accident,” explains Michael, owner, founder and president of DBA. “I got my masters at Clemson University in architecture and worked for Greenville County. I went to work for my boss at an engineering firm, which eventually led into construction management.” With over 35 years of experience in the industry, Michael’s leadership is both capable and informed. His team of 42 fulltime employees offers similar expertise, allowing the team to offer diverse construction, management and consulting services.
“We do two major things,” Michael elaborates. “We are a general contractor and we do consulting. On the consulting side, we act as an owner’s representative or program manager for a variety of project types. Acting as an owner’s rep has become our niche. This provides us with the opportunity to advise and work with developers and architects on large projects. At the same time, when there are projects within projects, it gives us a leg up. We can go in and be the owner’s rep while there are general contractor opportunities as well.”
Opportunities Within Opportunities
DBA’s broad capabilities have allowed the firm to take on a number of complex and time-sensitive projects over the years. “We work with a lot of developers in the private sector doing affordable housing. We work with casino developers and small percent work is bid work. 90 percent is negotiated. Our third largest area is for major grocery stores. We do a lot of work for Shop Rite. They keep us pretty busy. Shop Rite has become a great customer, so we serve their needs wherever they need us.”
The team has no specific geographic footprint, working all over the United States and then some. “We have performed work in Michigan, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts and the Bahamas among other locations,” Michael elaborates. “Right now in New Britain, Conn., we are working as the owner’s representative on Pinnacle Heights, which is affordable housing. Working with the developer, we are taking an old public housing complex and converting it into newly renovated affordable housing. We recently completed a project in Manchester, Conn., called the Cheney Mill Project, taking a historic mill and converting it into 56 units of new affordable housing. We also just completed the renovation of a Shop Rite Store in Montgomery, N.Y.”
In the casino side of the business, DBA has been very busy. “Right now, for example, we are working as an owner’s rep on a project in N.Y. called Resorts World Casino. It’s a $550 million conversion of the old Aqueduct Raceway into a new casino. With that project and others like, it we have been able to complete 51 projects as a general contractor. We have done restaurants, conversions of slot areas, building offices and lounge space and we even did the Metropolitan Transit station there.
“We are also the owner’s rep on another Resorts World Casino on the island of Bimini in the Bahamas,” Michael adds. “There, we are currently doing the design for a hotel, cruise ship jetty, and airport. In Massachusetts, we are working with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Taunton Mass as their owner’s rep to develop another casino.”
Maintaining a Successful Niche
DBA has both the capabilities and the relationships to maintain stability in the long run. On the general contractor end, the team performs as much as possible in house. For everything else, the company has a growing network of subcontractors. In repeat service areas, the team works with the same contractors frequently. In new locations, however, Michael and the crew continue to seek out new strategic partners for involvement in current and future projects.
These relationships, along with those DBA maintains with clients, have helped keep the business afloat even throughout the recession. “In 2008, we had it rough just like everybody else,” Michael explains. “Fortunately we had some good projects that got us through. 2011 and 2012 were good years and I think 2013 is going to be even better. For us, we continue to focus on knowing the market and paying attention to customer needs. We like a challenge and we often have clients come to us with a project that other contractors say will take a year. We can turn it around faster and we have built a reputation for our fast track methods.
Our biggest performance indicators are customer satisfaction and employee tenure,” he continues. “Everyone who started with me is still here. When the owners are happy and my team is happy, I’m happy. Our people are a great source of pride for me. They make it possible for us to deliver on these diverse projects.” With his successful team, Michael is looking ahead to continued growth. “Our consulting side of the business is growing significantly,” he adds. “We have a lot of opportunities ahead to work with a number of sectors, especially affordable housing. We are proud to contribute to improving the standard of living for people in the U.S.” As the economy makes a slow but steady recovery, D’Amato Builders and Advisors will continue to make an impact on the affordable housing market as well as the construction industry for years to come.
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