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A Conversation with Alberto Mordoki About Ambition and Overcoming Obstacles to Find Success

Alberto Mordoki started his construction company in 2012 when he wanted to involve his son and daughter in his business.  The company is involved in construction and drywall installation and taping as well as suspended ceilings for residential and commercial properties in Fullerton, California. In the past, he was the owner of another drywall company, but at […]

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Engineer and contractor shaking hands success of the project work together.
Engineer and contractor shaking hands success of the project work together.

Alberto Mordoki started his construction company in 2012 when he wanted to involve his son and daughter in his business.  The company is involved in construction and drywall installation and taping as well as suspended ceilings for residential and commercial properties in Fullerton, California.

In the past, he was the owner of another drywall company, but at a certain point due to economic changes during a recession he got out of the drywall business and worked solo with a few helpers and subcontractors, working on fixer uppers and working directly with home owners.

The work consisted in all aspects of construction, from framing, plumbing, electrical, roofing drywall, painting and finishes.

On several jobs we offered interior design helping home owners decide what type of furniture and colors would be best for their homes.

In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit, or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?

Working with my wife, son and daughter, the company changed to a family business where we learned from them and they learned from us. In the last couple of years, I have begun exercising and eating better.  I’m trying to keep up going to the gym at least 5 times a week.

I try to always eat fresh food, not frozen.  Preparing food at home is the best way to go. You buy groceries once a week for the whole week including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We also get snacks and desserts with low sugar.

When you feel unfocused, what do you do?

Since all of the gyms are closed due to COVID, I have set up a home gym.  I also had a heavy bag that my oldest son had used for Tae Kwon Do more than 10 years ago.  I hung the punching bag and bought boxing gloves and a speed bag, and I hit the heavy bag and the speed bag for exercise.  I just had a knee replacement, so I had to find a way to exercise and cardio work without running. The exercise helps me to let go of stress and focus better. 

I am not much of a reader but I try to read as much as I can. From sports and health magazines, to online news papers.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

For the person wanting to work in the construction business, I would recommend that they go slow and not to have too many employees at the beginning. There are to many labor laws in California and that takes some time to learn. Also take accounting and estimating classes as well as find a good accountant to take care of your books and taxes.

The daughter of a friend of mine got married and the husband came to me asking for help getting involved in the business.  He asked me to pass any jobs to him that were too small for our company to handle.  I advised him to keep things small starting out so that he would have fewer problems.  Of course, people want to grow their companies, but it can get more complicated when you have a lot of employees and responsibility. 

I have had employees for a long period of time and thought they were like family to me, but it does not always turn out that way.  If your company is large and you are working on big projects, former employees may sue you or file a false claim about Workers’ Compensation against you. 

The advice they should ignore is to take short cuts and not follow the construction and labor laws as well as the Federal Laws when it comes to file your taxes. Make sure to always do things by the book and follow the rules and regulations.

What is one lifestyle trend that excites you?

Getting at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep. Drink as much water as possible. Eat well and make time be with my family.

I really like to follow soccer.  I am from Argentina.  I have followed the national Argentine soccer team since I was a child.  It gives me a good feeling and means a lot to me.  It goes beyond just watching a game.  It’s a feeling.

I used to play soccer, but I am not playing now because I need to get my knee back in shape.  Once my knee improves, I would like to play again with people in my age range.  We play Sunday mornings and after playing we go to lunch and talk about the game.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

In my personal life, the biggest influence came from my parents. I learned that family is one of the most important, if not the most important thing in your life. Taking time every day to appreciate your loved ones for all that they do to connect as a family. My father has been my biggest influence in life. He was a Holocaust survivor from Greece and immigrated to Argentina after the war. He instilled in me my work ethic and always reminded me that I could overcome any storm. His story has always inspired me and allowed me to become resilient.

In my working life, I have learned a lot of different things from the different bosses I have had throughout the years.  I used to work for one drywall contractor who promoted me from being a journeyman to a foreman, and I learned the drywall business from him.  He taught me everything I know and how to work fast and to do a good job. Throughout the years I added the technology and social media that enabled us to complete more tasks in less time.

What’s one of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned?

Back in the day when I started my business, there were not cell phones, fax machines or internet to get work.  I would show up on a job that was in progress and talk to the person in charge and offer your services. They let you borrow the plans so you could put an estimate together. When the estimate/price was ready you would go back to the site and hand them the proposal and return the set of plans.

That is how my business got started.  But now we have learned to communicate and grow our business using all of the technology that is now readily available to us.

What do you think it is that makes you/someone successful?

Someone becomes successful by working hard, getting up early. Successful people are confident and can lead themselves, as well as others. They have their own vision and mission and seek to bring it to life on a daily basis. They also know who they aren’t and don’t waste time on things that they aren’t good at or they aren’t satisfied with.

How do you stay motivated?

I have been working in construction and drywall for almost 40 years. That this is pretty much my life.  It is what I know how to do and the way I have been able to provide for my family, so my work is a big motivation for me.  It is also the work that I enjoy.    

What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

I would like to leave behind a clean name and the construction company for my adult son and daughter to manage so they can make a living.  They are the officers of the corporation and so far it’s been a nice journey to get where we are.

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