- Written by: Ivy Carter
- Produced by: Joe Atwood
- Estimated reading time: 3 mins
Cynthia Jonasson runs her full-service general contracting company Denco Inc. (Denco) with honesty and integrity. In these difficult economic times some unscrupulous contractors are resorting to tricks to bring in new projects. A common method is underbidding a project to where they can’t realistically cover the project costs, let alone a margin of any sort, and then submitting a series of change order requests during construction to build the margins back into the project. Cynthia, however, is proud that the company she founded with her husband, Dennis Jonasson, has never submitted a change order request that wasn’t requested by the client.
“One of the things that set us apart from our competitors is that we’re not out building projects,” says Cynthia. “We’re in the business of building relationships. We know we’re not the cheapest contractor out there, but our clients get well-built projects, customer service and a relationship that we have developed so that we can earn their business on their next project.”
The Las Cruces, N.M.-based contractor originally started in 1997 as a construction and welding shop, but reinvented itself as an SBA-certified 8(a) small disadvantaged woman-owned small business two years later. As an 8(a) contractor Denco has been able to successfully bid on a large number of federal projects that have fueled the company’s growth in spite of the economy. Denco counts the Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), Northrop Grumman, Toltest Inc., New Mexico State University and MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory amongst its satisfied clients.
Denco is a true one-stop construction contractor. The company offers its clients the full range of general contracting services, including preconstruction, design-build and construction management, fabrication and welding, facilities maintenance, site work, targets, mission support and mechanical contracting.
What an Honor
Denco has grown to 65 employees and Cynthia estimates that the company grossed nearly $22 million in revenue in 2011. Denco has worked on some distinctive projects for the agencies that operate on the nearby army base of White Sands Missile Range.
“We’ve designed and built targets for some Department of Defense customers where they test fire on our project and we’re required to rebuild or demonstrate it for them,” says Cynthia. “There aren’t a lot of contractors who see their projects getting blown up on a regular basis.”
A crew from Denco also completed the launch complex for the Orion Project, NASA’s evolution of its space exploration program. “There were a lot of specs for the LC- 32 Orion Project complex,” adds Cynthia. “It’s a pretty significant facility on White Sands Missile Range.”
Denco has also successfully completed projects as esoteric as the construction of a lake and a bridge in the middle of the desert for a federal agency to train upon. In addition, the company has built a maintenance and test support facility for Northrop Grumman to determine if they could incorporate laser technology with ships and airplanes.
Denco built the west gate entrance and an extremely complex and rule-specific dog kennel for Holloman Air Force Base. The company worked as a subcontractor for Toltest Inc., which later won a blue ribbon award for its construction.
Cynthia indicates that she would like to change the direction of the company to include a more diverse client base in order to maintain revenues through the slowing economy. “Right now we’re the prime contractor on a lot of our projects and it doesn’t need to be that way,” she says. “I can see us expanding if we take on more subcontracting projects. We’ve developed an outstanding reputation for our work, and it will balance our client base.”
Cynthia is also setting up the company to be one of the region’s pre-eminent environmental contractors. “We’re currently getting certified for environmental work,” she continues. “The president issued a mandate that bases are going to be going green, so I’ve set the plans in motion to make us unique for when those changes are fully implemented.”
A reputation once sullied is extremely hard to rebuild, or, as is said more commonly in the construction industry, “You’re only as good as your last project.” Cynthia and Dennis Jonasson wisely grew their general contracting company on the principal that it is more important to develop a relationship with a client than to look for a short-term gain with sloppy construction practices and sneaky change order requests. That honest approach has allowed Denco Inc. to grow quickly into one of the region’s most respected contracting companies.
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