Prior to launching DesCor Builders in February 2005, founders Brad DesJardin and Neal Cordeiro asked themselves, “How do we create a business that is truly built to last and that can sustain its culture for multiple generations into the future?”
That single question enabled DesJardin and Cordeiro to define their vision for the company, and it started with their values, purpose and mission.
- Values (PACE): Passion, Accountability, Commitment and Excellence
- Purpose: To Build a Lasting Legacy of Great Buildings and Even Greater Relationships
- Mission, 2005: To Be One of the Most Respected General Contractors in Northern California by 2010
- Mission, 2010: To Be a Model of Success and a Leader in our Community
- Mission, 2020: To Empower People and Create a Meaningful Impact on Those We Serve
To build a lasting legacy, they understood that they must start with a vision of the future and create a robust succession plan for internal transfer of ownership to future leaders. They also wanted to create a quality of life that addressed the present and future goals of their people.
Two founding principles that have guided DesCor to and through succession are: 1) Create a long-term model of success to ensure the business’s sustainability for future owners, and 2) Develop the company’s people through empowerment, improvement and entrepreneurial opportunity.
DesCor Builders started with DesJardin, Cordeiro and two other employees, including Senior Commercial Superintendent Jeff Deming, a member of the leadership team today. The company’s first project was a $4,000 remodel and they finished that first year with an $8M dollar volume.
The diligence to build the culture translated into attracting talented people and delivering outstanding results for clients. From 2005 to 2006, DesCor’s work volume increased from that $8M to $28M and they added eight new employees, including Brandon Schroer in 2005 and Joe Giger and Tyler Ganyo in 2006. These three would eventually become the new corporate officers.
DesCor is now one of the most respected companies in the region, employing 95 people and completing more than 1,300 projects totaling nearly $1.3B in revenue. Always true to their values, purpose and missions, DesCor has been recognized as Region Builders’ Business of the Year, Sacramento Business Journal’s Best Places to Work (earning that award nine times in the last 11 years), a top-20 charitable giving organization and Sacramento’s Corporate Citizen of the Year.
“Of all our accomplishments over the last 18 years, the transition of leadership is our most important. Our culture is in great hands with our successors.” Brad DesJardin, President
Through its substantial growth, DesCor remained focused on succession. As early as 2008, DesJardin and Cordeiro created a detailed curriculum for ownership training, including the concept of thinking like an owner, maintaining a culture of discipline and viewing a leadership role as being the caretaker of the business for future owners. They also developed a creative stock purchase program modeled to allow future succession groups the ability to buy ownership without undue hardship.
For more than a decade, DesJardin and Cordeiro met regularly with the succession group to focus on training the “hard skills” of running the business and the “soft skills” of fostering a strong culture. Four of the new leaders even completed a University of Notre Dame business program focused on applied business strategies.
“We had to get this right,” says Cordeiro. “This is much more than a financial transaction. We are transitioning leadership to those that can maintain a thriving culture.”
As of today, DesJardin and Cordeiro have divested nearly 60 percent of ownership to the next generation of leaders. DesJardin will transition to retired president on the advisory board, supporting the corporate management team and leaders for the next three years. Cordeiro will continue as vice president and director of finance.
“Of all our accomplishments over the last 18 years, the transition of leadership is our most important,” says DesJardin. “Our culture is in great hands with our successors. Neal and I are so fortunate to be able to see our legacy continue and to support our leaders to ensure that DesCor’s mission and vision are fully realized.”