A Code, a Craft …and Community
Cannatelli Builders thrives with people-first ethos
Some tools, a van and lessons learned at his father’s side was all Edward Cannatelli needed to turn a home-based business into a multimillion-dollar design-build and construction management company…with a personal touch.
In today’s environment, few companies can match Cannatelli’s balance of old-fashioned values and unique skill set for construction with his focus on providing every employee with an opportunity for growth.
Originally from Connecticut, Cannatelli learned all about the fine elements of carpentry from his father, a homebuilder, from the time he was 9 years old. While he loved the homebuilding business, he has always been an entrepreneur at heart. After his father died in 1991, Cannatelli moved to Florida to build his own legacy. He got his start in the construction space and later moved into a real estate developer role and business entrepreneur, with shared ownership in call centers, coffee shops and even an online business that sells specialty retail products.
But he missed the craft of building. In 2002, he took out an ad in the Pompano Beach newspaper offering carpentry and construction services. When he got a call about a remodeling job and set up an appointment, Cannatelli recalls, “The owner first couldn’t believe that we were on time…and later that we got the job done on time. From there, the company took off with one referral after another.”
And Cannatelli Builders Inc. was born.
Quest for Excellence
In its first year, Cannatelli and his team focused on remodeling and additions to residential homes. Within two years, the company was generating $1 million a year in revenue. Today, it does about $10 million in business annually.
The firm specializes in large and complex tenant improvements, custom homes, restaurants, retail and buildouts. A few of the current projects include the construction of a 16,000-square-foot French Victorian home, a 15,000-square-foot transitional home, a 14,000-square-foot contemporary waterfront home, as well as a number of Five Guys restaurants. In addition, Cannatelli Builders just entered a strategic partnership with Gapway Partners LLC and Cannatelli Developers to jointly develop 2,300 acres of commercial and residential property in Central Florida.
To this day, Cannatelli does not competitively bid work—every job is referral based. Of note, Cannatelli Builders is part of the Cannatelli Companies group, which also includes Cannatelli Developers, Cannatelli Capital fund, Cannatelli Asset Management and the Frankie Beans Brand.
Cannatelli prides himself and his team on always responding to current and past clients. He adds, “Our work is never out of warranty. If our clients have a problem that we can help with, even if it’s not directly connected to our work, we’ll do our best to help.”
He feels the same about his employees, all of whom are hired by him personally. In his mind, it’s his job to provide every individual an opportunity for professional growth.
Growing from Within
Cannatelli Builders is relatively small, with a staff of 12, mostly superintendents and project managers.
Cannatelli says, “The building side of the operation has grown organically. I’m very demanding when it comes to service, so once we’ve hired and trained someone who has our values, we hang on to them.”
When Cannatelli Builders need to fill a position, rather than go outside the company to find someone, the firm trains from within and fills positions from the bottom up—and it only hires and retains those who have a good work ethic, integrity and are, of course, on time.
Cannatelli confirms, “It’s easy to train smart people who are willing to work hard, are courteous and have integrity—and we want to cultivate those characteristics.”
The company still has three employees who have been with the company since its earliest days. One individual, Carina Lake, started as a receptionist, then moved up to be a personal assistant, and is now training to be a project coordinator.
“I began working as an administrative assistant at Cannatelli Builders in October 2016 with no prior experience in the construction industry,” Lake says. “Everyone here took me under their wing and taught me everything I would need to know, especially Ed and Frank Pesce [CEO and development managing partner for Cannatelli]. When they needed to appoint a new project coordinator, they put their trust in me. Due to their tutelage, I have learned and grown immensely since my start here. I look forward to continued growth for the company and for myself personally.”
When asked about his people-first business strategy, Cannatelli adds, “I believe that growing from within is part of building a strong work family—and that’s what we are, family, both personally and professionally. When one succeeds, we all succeed.”
“I believe that growing from within is part of building a strong work family—and that’s what we are, family, both personally and professionally. When one succeeds, we all succeed.” Edward Cannatelli, Founder and Chairman, Cannatelli Builders Inc.
Making a Difference
Considering Cannatelli’s compassion and care for his people, it’s not surprising that he has the same care for those in the community.
Personally, Cannatelli has been involved in community activities, like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Wounded Warrior Project as well as other charitable entities, since the founding of the company. “We have experienced firsthand that South Florida can be a community of two extremes: wealth and poverty,” he notes. “We recognize that a significant portion of the population is unable to access or afford the opportunities resulting from economic development. We are passionate about narrowing that gap through a variety of philanthropic roles.”
Cannatelli’s key causes include 1) positive social change and impact development, 2) social justice and 3) education and empowerment.
The firm’s philanthropic commitments are largely focused on the following organizations: the Frankie Beans initiatives, Wounded Warrior Project, Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Habitat for Humanity, and many other groups.
Whether working on a job or giving back to the community, Cannatelli can still hear his father’s words about the importance of excellent workmanship, completed on time.
“I’m meticulous in everything I do, and much of that is because that’s how my father taught me,” he says. “Even though he’s not here anymore, if I even think of cutting a corner, I can hear him in my head saying, ‘I taught you better.’ In everything I do, I strive to meet my own high expectations, while creating opportunities for others inside and outside the company.”
It’s the Cannatelli way.