Case Studies

Desarollos Metropolitanos LLC

Contributing to Puerto Rico's urban growth for more than 40 years

In 1970 engineers Julio E. Vizcarrondo Jr., Milton Miro and Jose A. Vizcarrondo founded general contracting firm Desarollos Metropolitanos LLC (DM). Based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the business has grown significantly over the years.

The business is now in its third generation of family ownership, with Jose R. “Joe” Vizcarrondo, president and CEO, alongside his uncle, Jose A., treasurer and secretary, as well as his father, Julio, chairman of the board. The company employs approximately 100 full-time employees and works with subsidiaries, VMV Enterprises Corporation and SMPC LLC. With combined capabilities, resources and technology, the group of companies has completed a broad range of commercial, industrial and residential projects.

“Our company has been working in different niches of the construction industry, mostly private work,” Joe explains. “We don’t do any infrastructure or utility work contracting. In the last few years, we have done high-rises and single-family residential projects. In the commercial sector we have built over 2 million square feet of office buildings in the past 10 years and two major warehouse projects. Our institutional work includes six schools modernizations and some prison work.”

A growing portfolio

DM performs roughly 30 percent of work in-house, including concrete, some of the masonry, skin coat plaster finishes and carpentry finishes, among other tasks. Joe and his team subcontract the rest to a network of reliable subcontractors, many of which the business has been working with for many years.

“We do tend to repeat a lot of subs,” Joe notes. “We try to combine mechanical and electrical. In general we will mix it up a bit, but we tend to use the same groups of people we know can perform well for our repeat clients.”

Working with qualified strategic partners, DM has been able to pull together a number of unique and challenging projects in recent years. “We have worked in six different new schools for the Department of Education in Puerto Rico, the most significant was in the city of Ponce,” Joe notes. “This recently completed school is a LEED Silver certified project. The school was delivered in December and classes begun in January 2014.”

The company also recently completed a new complex for a local food distributor, V. Suarez & Co. “It’s a brand new complex,” Joe elaborates. “This was a $50 million project for one of our best clients. Our biggest project to-date has been Gallery Plaza Condominium, a $75 million job in the heart of San Juan. The structure has 214 units in a two-tower condo building that has about 60,000 square feet of retail space in the ground level.”

Teamwork makes the dream work

Joe takes great pride in his team, including his partners, employees and strategic partners. Together, DM and its partners are able to foster relationships with clients. “Our greatest indicator of performance is having repeat clients,” Joe explains. “Our customers are our biggest asset. We are really proud of that. To succeed in this business, you have to love it and I do. I have been involved with the company since I was very young and I have always had a passion for construction. This passion is shared by all the members of our team. We don’t hesitate to go the extra mile for any client or any challenging project.”

The company has been a member of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) since the local chapter was incorporated 50 years ago. “My grandfather was one of the chapters’ founders, and he, my father and I have presided the local chapter,” Joe details. “Our team participates in chapter activities, working committees and seminars for continuous education in our field of work.” DM is also a member of the Puerto Rico Homebuilders Association and has received awards for quality from both organizations.

Like most contractors, DM faced obstacles throughout the recession that are finally beginning to subside. Late or missing payments from completed projects before and during the economic downturn have put financial pressure on the business. Fortunately, good relationships with banks and financers have helped DM remain stable as the recovery gradually takes hold. “Finances are our greatest worry,” Joe explains. “When a project goes unpaid, we have to assure we can fulfill our obligations with our employees and suppliers.”

Now, DM is on an adjustment mode. “Competition is fierce, but we have been lucky to be awarded some good projects in the pipeline,” Joe explains. “Our experience throughout the recession has given us insight on how to run the operations leaner. We have been changing the way we do business, shrinking overhead so we can take on smaller projects.”

Joe’s goal is to keep the company’s size and scope manageable, a task that will allow him and his team to continue doing what they love. “All of our projects are rewarding,” he notes. “We like that when the project is done, we can see all our hard work in physical form. We have never defaulted on a project and we never leave a project unfinished.” With passion, experience and the strength of a good team, Desarollos Metropolitanos LLC is headed toward growth in the coming years, continuing to provide leading construction services on the island of Puerto Rico.

Published on: June 18, 2014

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