Concept to Occupancy
DeStefano & Associates, Inc. delivers adaptive planning, design and construction services with intrinsic value
The Music Hall, built in 1878, is an icon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. When the 900-seat theater was renovated in 2007, DeStefano & Associates, Inc. was called to action. Maintaining the historic integrity of the structure, finishing on a short timeline and staying within budget were a perfect fit for the planning, design and construction firm, also based in Portsmouth.
Working with the local designers at TMS Architects, DeStefano & Associates took on the project management for the construction of the box office, restroom renovation and creation of a lobby bar. One of the most critical elements was installation of a series of new columns and piers to shore up the balcony, which required the removal of 700 cubic yards of rock. All was completed on schedule in just five months, while business continued.
Adaptive Approach, Value Delivered
Whether a client brings in a construction project idea scribbled on a napkin or a detailed schematic, DeStefano & Associates helps them take it from concept to occupancy. Founder John DeStefano infused the firm with a passion for delivering and creating long-lasting value. With a passion for historic restoration, the firm seeks challenging projects that require critical problem-solving.
Serving clients throughout New Hampshire, Maine and Eastern Massachusetts, DeStefano & Associates advocates for its clients from start to finish, managing each project phase by working with all architects, engineers, permitting agencies and subcontractors. Using an adaptive business approach that fits the unique communication, scheduling and budgeting requirements of each client, DeStefano & Associates engages with the client’s work process.
John founded the company in early 1999 and serves as President. His son Eric joined in 2009 and now serves as Vice President and Project Manager. Both are degreed and licensed in civil engineering.
Before the founding, John spent five years in college and 20 years absorbing a variety of project management experiences involving commercial, industrial and institutional construction. After graduating with his Master of Science in Civil Engineering, John began working as a civil engineer with Metcalf & Eddy, Inc. in Boston. Then he became a branch manager for a Carlson Corporation subsidiary called DCM, and finally managed projects with GeoEnvironmental, Inc. (GZA) based in Norwood, Massachusetts, before going out on his own.
Eric spent five years after graduating from college in 2004 practicing civil engineering before joining DeStefano & Associates. He began at RJM Engineering, Inc. in Ellicott, Maryland, which specializes in transportation engineering, highways, bridges, rail and transit, along with water resources, civil site engineering, utilities and structural engineering. He then went to Sebago Technics, Inc. in Portland, Maine, which worked across many sites and civil engineering projects, offering Eric a spectrum of opportunity, including transportation and site engineering.
Concept to Occupancy
Providing comprehensive services means delivery begins with the germ of an idea and continues to the completion of construction and occupancy. DeStefano & Associates becomes a single point of contact and advocate for the client, executing the planning, design and project management, and selecting and managing fully vetted subcontractors. The firm’s team of project managers navigates the complex requirements of various financial, federal, regional, state and municipal authorities and monitors every project detail. The site managers are responsible for day-to-day safety, quality and scheduling. DeStefano & Associates’ project management and site management team works seamlessly with architects and design engineers while managing subcontractors to ensure the project is completed with minimal surprise, on budget and schedule.
With multiple projects underway simultaneously, the team relies on telecommunications and online project management tools to stay connected to real-time activity at a job site. Project managers create reports, available for review 24/7, to keep the client up to date.
“Technology is certainly a powerful tool to make communication easier and faster, and with information traveling so fast, clients often expect the project to move faster, much faster,” Eric says. “We all know what happens when emails fly back and forth. It is our job to keep things controlled, often requiring more time to untangle issues and help clients to understand the project impacts, including cost changes and materials availability, which have both been huge challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Over the years, client testimonials repeatedly comment on the team’s management skills, working with subcontractors and town authorities, and their calm and professional demeanor. Because every aspect of every project is transparent, Eric says that clients trust DeStefano & Associates to manage all aspects of a project, allowing them to stay focused on their core business.
“Our team of project managers stays current on the latest professional construction management practices so we can manage the diversity of project types by cross-utilizing our experience from a variety of projects,” John says. “Professionalism is at the core of our services as we maintain total transparency of our work progress, timelines and budgets, eliminating surprises.”
Long-term Client Relationships
According to John, almost 80% of DeStefano’s business is from repeat customers.
When asked if he had a most memorable client, John quickly references Stonewall Kitchen, DeStefano & Associates’ first client. Stonewall Kitchen is a specialty food and home goods producer headquartered in York, Maine.
“When we started with Stonewall Kitchen, our first project was to analyze various sites to locate a corporate office and manufacturing facility,” John says. “Twenty years later, we continue to be their planner/designer/builder of choice.”
Eric has a personal favorite client, too, a $20 million multifamily project with 95 apartments completed in 2017. It is still the single largest project that DeStefano & Associates has undertaken, and Eric took the reins, managing the project from start to finish. With multiple projects underway when this opportunity arose, the firm quickly added staff to meet the on-site needs of the new multifaceted apartment project.
“It is our existing relationships with the right subcontractors that make our projects successful,” Eric says. “Ultimately, our project management is only as good as the subs we bring to a project. It’s their high level of quality, integrity and professionalism that results in clients coming back to us with new projects, repeatedly.”
Culture of Professionalism
Eric says that everything about DeStefano & Associates speaks to the culture of a service business that delivers intrinsic value to its clients through a team of professionals. The on-staff team of project managers comes from academic backgrounds, while the site managers and subcontractors are all craftsmen, expert in their fields as electricians, plumbers, wood and metal workers and all other trades. From the project manager to the contractor installing the floor, if they are part of the DeStefano & Associates team, they are mandated to interact with each other and the client with unbridled respect and safety.
“When we need to add project managers and site managers, we look for people with the right mix of professional skills and who can communicate clearly,” John explains. “In this industry, we see 20-somethings working with 80-year-olds, each with their own generational experiences and personalities. With plenty of advice coming from some of our crusty contractors, we must stay calm and defuse heated situations. We want that “people person” who can fit into a diverse mix of work situations, able to work on-site and perhaps, most importantly of all, keep a positive attitude.”
What does DeStefano & Associates see ahead in the construction industry? Eric sums it up: “We are excited about upcoming opportunities with solar and battery applications. These are becoming more affordable with higher returns on investment for our clients. Our approach won’t change. We’ll always be adaptive to what our clients need and focus on delivering the highest level of value.”