Dairies, Digesters and Dreams
M-Mig Construction, Inc.’s Central Valley roots shine through on every build
There are no days off in a family-owned and -operated dairy operation.
It’s a truth that helped shape Matt Migliazzo’s work ethic and focus. He confirms, “I was raised on a dairy farm in Merced, California. My family worked seven days a week. There was no extracurricular activity until the cows were fed or milked.”
More significant to Matt, there was always something that needed to be built or fixed. That demand fostered a love for all things construction—particularly steel and concrete. He recalls, “My dad is extremely talented when it comes to building. He taught me how to weld in second grade, and electrical wiring soon followed.”
After high school, he would go on to work for and learn from some of the most successful agriculture and metal building contractors in the Central Valley. After five years, Matt returned to his family farm when they needed him—a move that also fostered his entrepreneurial spirit and the founding of M-Mig Construction, Inc. with a focus on dairy farm construction, steel buildings and specialty projects.
Farm to Fab
The dairy business has very defined hours of work. Typically, 4 a.m. to 11 a.m., and then 4 p.m. until dark. During his off hours, Matt worked with a local contractor to remodel houses, and took on some welding jobs while finishing his college education at night. He confirms, “I did that for two years straight. I had no personal life, but it paid off.”
In 2005, at the age of 25, he graduated with an environmental technology degree, got his contractor license and hit the ground running. “I borrowed $500 from my mom to buy a welder—and paid her back two days later. With that welder in the back of my S-10 pickup, I drove around welding and doing some concrete patch work,” he recalls.
Within a year, a local farmer approached Matt and said, “Hey boy, you’re going to build my free-stall metal barn.” Matt says, “I said OK, but I don’t know how to bid this project.” Unafraid of the challenge, Matt developed an estimate, hired a team and got to work. “That was my first six-figure job, which allowed me to hire a few guys to help and buy more equipment including a Bobcat and a forklift,” he recalls.
Critical to Matt’s business principles was to never borrow money. “If I didn’t have the money to afford something by paying cash, I waited. The first three years, I worked every night and day to build up the business,” he says.
The Right Team
While M-Mig Construction realized success almost immediately upon forming, the culture of the company took on a decidedly different look and feel by 2011—a shift that Matt credits to his wife and his team.
In 2011, he married his wife, Ashley. Their first child, Max, was born in 2012 and second, Evan, was born in 2014. “Before Ashley, I was a different Matt. Today, I’m a better business owner with a greater appreciation for family because of her. I don’t let my people miss their children’s activities,” he adds. That shift has also helped build a tighter bond among employees.
The second adjustment was internal to the company. He hired Jessica Saavedra as Office Manager that same year to take over payroll and data entry. “We’ve come a long way since those early days working in a home office to our current office/warehouse. The culture is much more focused on employees, which I think translates to our customers in the way of service,” Matt says.
He adds, “When Jessica came on, it changed the dynamic. She has the same passion, vision and overall appreciation for the company as I do. As well, she gave us more structure.”
A friend and colleague, Genaro Campos, joined the company in 2012 as the Dairy Project Manager. Matt recalls, “Genaro was my first job Superintendent when I worked for the metal building company. His knowledge and experience are integral to our ability to take on larger projects.”
Genaro especially appreciates the wide range of opportunities that he’s had in his time with the company. “I never thought I would be a part of something so important to our community. M-Mig Construction gives people the opportunity to work and grow as individuals. It’s an environment that revolves around equality, responsibility and teamwork,” Genaro says.
Then Matt’s father, Mark Migliazzo, retired from the family dairy operation and joined Matt’s company as a foreman to help oversee dairy construction as the Dairy/Commercial Project Manager—a job he says he loves. “I’ve always done most of the construction on the family dairy farm, which has made my transition from dairy farmer to dairy builder pretty smooth,” Mark shares. “I’m especially proud of the company culture that draws from the farming culture of community that Matt’s mother and I hoped to instill in all of our children.” Other members of the leadership team include Brandon Johnson, Project Supervisor; James Jantz, Operations Manager; and Alberto Perez, Assistant Office Manager, who also handles permits, a key task in project success.
Matt confirms, “These individuals make up my trusted office and field management team. They are critical to managing materials and resources, working with customers and keeping jobs on track.”
Today, M-Mig Construction employs about 40 people—and they’re very close. Matt says, “We’re a family. We look out for each other. It’s not a competition to see who has better skills; it’s about teamwork that comes with a family atmosphere.”
In 2014, Matt leased a new facility for his team in Atwater, California, with offices, parking and shop space to handle the company’s growing scope and scale of work for a range of commercial customers. The company has since expanded to add more office space and a conference room.
M-Mig Construction’s backlog is currently divided equally between new construction and renovation/repair jobs. The latter spans from dairy barns and digesters to specialty projects such as churches and barndominiums (metal barns converted to residential living space). One of the company’s many areas of expertise is the implementation of methane digesters—large processing systems that decompose organic waste (e.g., animal waste) and then use the resulting gas for heating and electricity. Matt believes methane digesters are the wave of the environmental future for the dairy industry. He adds, “We’ve been constructing methane digester systems since 2014.”
The company has also begun to take on turnkey design-build projects. Last year, M-Mig Construction designed and constructed a 60,000-square-foot sweet potato processing facility. “We did the design in-house and brought it to the owner’s architect and engineer for approval. Everything went well despite the excessive rain we had that year, which delayed the construction start. Every day counted to make the deadline and required extraordinary coordination between multiple subcontractors. That was one for the record books,” he says.
Matt sees more design-build projects down the road for his company, noting that he’s hearing that owners really want to hand their concepts over to someone they trust to get the work done. “They don’t want to deal with multiple entities, so design-build procurement really works,” he confirms.
And of course, dairy-sector construction will continue to be a vital component of the company’s portfolio. Matt adds, “It’s a niche market. Farmers have to milk a cow every day and they have to process the byproduct. The service and maintenance of the facilities will never go away and it’s a part of my heritage that will always be part of the work we do.”
“The service and maintenance of [dairy] facilities will never go away and it’s a part of my heritage that will always be part of the work we do.” Matt Migliazzo, Owner, M-Mig Construction, Inc.
On-the-job and professional training and certification are essential to M-Mig Construction’s continued success, and are why Matt emphasizes education.
“Our services vary day to day,” Matt explains. “As an example, one day we might pour a concrete structural slab, the next day put up fence at a dairy farm, then fix a roof the day after that, and the next day erect a metal building. Training these guys on the job and through education is very important. We can’t do what we do every day without training.”
Through quarterly evaluations, Matt and his leadership team are able to keep a finger on the pulse of their employees. “They provide self-evaluations, which sheds light on their work to date, and also gives them a vehicle to continuing education. One guy might want to get a welding certification while another might want a Class A driver’s license. I’m happy to help facilitate training,” he says.
That support mentality translates to community as well.
M-Mig Construction has a dedicated budget for community support, a commitment that stems from Matt’s upbringing. My parents always said, “If you have it, you share it,” he says.
One of the biggest annual events is the Santa Day Toy Drive in Merced, hosted by the California Highway Patrol Merced Area office; Jennifer Johnson, a Starbucks Manager in Merced; and M-Mig Construction. Jessica recalls, “We started this small event for a local elementary school to help low-income families in 2008. Now, it’s extended to families throughout Merced County.”
Matt and his company are also big supporters of 4-H and the National FFA Organization as well as every local youth sports team. And that generosity extends to his team. “When they need us, we’re there to help,” he says.
One of the most anticipated events is M-Mig Construction’s annual holiday party for employees, which started when the company moved to its new location in Atwater. The event includes gifts, food, a raffle and tables of prizes for employees and their families.
He concludes, “God has blessed me with great family, friends and employees as well as the vehicle to use my passion for construction. Together, I believe we can do anything. If there’s a seemingly impossible task, I want it and we’re going to find a way to do it.”