“Earn respect by doing a job well, treat employees with courtesy and respect and do good work for the community in which you live and work.”—James Ghilotti, founder
This year’s winner of Best Company to do Business With in Marin County is Ghilotti Bros., Inc (GBI), a construction company that was started more than 100 years ago by an Italian immigrant.
James Ghilotti immigrated to the Bay Area shortly after the 1906 Earthquake, having worked in the Kimberly Diamond Mines in South Africa for four years at the age of 18, eventually setting up shop in San Rafael, carting rocks from the hills of Marin and Sonoma counties in a horse-drawn sled.
The founding Ghilotti had four sons who grew up to take over the business and changed the company’s name to James Ghilotti and Sons. Sons Willie, Dino, Babe and Mario returned safely from World War II and began increasing their knowledge and capabilities. As noted on the companies website: “As their knowledge expanded, so did the business, and soon the small jobs became larger, and the company’s services expanded.”
From 1967 through the 1980s, Ghilotti Bros, Inc’s gross sales increased from $20 million annually to $100 million annually. In 1992, the last surviving brother, Mario, passed the company down to his sons, Michael and Dante, a transition that took eight years.
The company, now in its third generation and headed by Michael “Mike” Ghilotti, changed to its current name in 2000, when Mario and wife Eva sold it to their sons. More than 100 years later, Ghilotti Bros., Inc. continues to live by James’ philosophy, “Earn respect by doing a job well, treat employees with courtesy and respect and do good work for the community in which you live and work.”
Over the past century, Ghilotti Bros’ capabilities have vastly expanded, and now include: residential, commercial, public works, concrete, excavating, paving, underground and emergency work, recycling, earthwork and heavy highway work.
Some notable projects include including the Great Highway Emergency Stabilization project for the City and County of San Francisco in response to winter erosion. Ghilotti Bros constructed a 2-ton Rock Armor revetment slope approximately 1,000 feet in length “to reduce the direct impact of wave action on the existing bluff and to protect the roadway from sloughing into the ocean,” according to the website.
Residential projects include building driveways, retaining walls, patios, stairs, drainage and grading, curbs and gutters and sports courts, and public works projects including improvements to the iconic Mission Dolores Park.
But the majority of the company’s work remains true to its stone masonry foundations: concrete. Also noted on the company website, “Quality craftsmanship has served the community’s needs since 1914. Maintaining a highly skilled work force supported by state of the art tools and machinery allows us to satisfy all-site concrete needs. We install everything from sidewalks to retaining walls, offering a complete construction package.”
And staying true to James Ghilotti’s philosophy on giving back, Ghilotti Bros has, through its Giving Back Program, participated in dozens of charity programs, such as Catholic Charities, The Miracle League and the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco and Marin and Sonoma counties. The company believes that, “giving back to the community is an obligation and a privilege.”
[Lead photo courtesy of Ghilotti Bros., Inc.]