Construction and carpentry are in my blood. My work ethic comes from my father, who owns his own closet installation and flooring business. These days he concentrates on commercial work, but he used to do residential also, and I started out in high school helping with carpet installation. I also ran my own business, providing gardening and landscaping for local families.
In high school, I always liked shop and almost went to tech school. Instead I went to college for hotel and restaurant management. I tried cooking and worked in a restaurant, but I came back to carpentry. I love it.
For a couple of years, I worked for other people in construction. I really paid attention, and maybe drove them a little crazy. They taught me so much about how to use tools; it’s really cool to know all those secrets about construction and high end finishes. I remember one boss who always started a job by telling us, “Let’s go!”—and I’ve been moving fast ever since. I’ve instilled that “let’s go” attitude in everyone who works for me.
I was working at a construction company when my wife Emily and I went on our honeymoon. I told her I wanted to go out on my own, and when we came back I let my boss know. He fired me right then. He said: “Sink or swim.”
So in my career, I’ve listened to 5 or 6 people really well, never forgot their lessons, and then kept learning. Even today, as a general contractor and a leader, I have to be constantly creative and on my toes. There are many ways to handle a project and satisfy a customer. I’ve built a team at WORKS by Jesse DeBenedictis that understands how to think creatively, is ready for the unexpected and always considers the best interests of the customer.
I love challenges and still feel challenged. If you know the materials, if you like creating, everything just flows. I think people forget that it’s so much fun to do what you love.
Emily and I have two boys now. The younger one built a small bench by himself and I told him he’d be really good at carpentry. I have time now to be with my family because I’m not working alone—I have a great team supporting the business and we work as a team. They understand the importance of family, too, and most of them live in this area; that gives us an extra bond with homeowners.
The team is so important. I’m building a business, I’m building a rocket ship and I want to take everyone along with me and show people what this industry can be. I didn’t even realize how talented we are until I started adding on people and we needed to teach them the right way to do construction and carpentry.
The “right way” begins with careful preparation and it ends with meticulous cleanup. In between, it focuses on a professional work ethic—you show up when you say you will, you work hard when you’re there and you communicate constantly with the customer. That’s the way my father runs his business and that’s the way he taught me to run my business.
You’re part of a team. That means you support each other, stay open to learning new things and pitch in where you are needed. That teamwork is something I learned from my bosses along the way. Finally and most important, you take the time to understand what the customer really wants and do your best to give them exactly that within their budget and schedule.
The WORKS team remodels entire homes, builds additions and decks, renovates kitchens, baths and master bedrooms, maintains public buildings and handles all sorts of painting and repair projects. We handle everything from the chimney to the foundation. To do that, you have to respect the buildings you work on, both to preserve their unique character and to improve their comfort, structural integrity and flow for the people who live there. You treat the customer’s home with the same care you would give to your own home.
We’re not like everyone else. When people understand who we are and why we do this work, they see the passion and drive. I never want our work to be just okay. I want to create relationships for a lifetime with my family, my team, and my customers.