Builders at our Core: Marlon Mendoza

Builders at Our Core
Having grown up on construction sites throughout Southern California, ACT Foreman Marlon Mendoza is now putting his skills to work on the largest beachfront development on the San Diego coastline in more than 20 years. Courtesy of Matt Pranzo

You could say construction is in Marlon Mendoza’s blood. He grew up working with his family on job sites in Southern California and points to this as the genesis of his love for the hands-on work of building. Six years after finding his way to DPR, his daily commute currently lands him on what is arguably one of the most beautiful job site locations in the country: the Oceanside Beachfront Resort (OBR) project in Oceanside, California. Mendoza and his team are working on the acoustic ceiling tile scope on this S.D. Malkin Properties development of two adjacent hotels that span two city blocks and overlook the Oceanside Pier, making it the largest beachfront development on the San Diego coastline in more than 20 years.

Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?

Mendoza: I’m a foreman in charge of an ACT (Acoustic Ceiling Tile) crew on the OBR project. I’ve been around construction all my life. My dad is a construction engineer and my uncle works in residential construction. Any time I wasn’t in school, I was helping him build condos and apartments in northern Los Angeles County. I was really hands-on; that’s how I developed my skills. Then, about 20 years ago, I started working for an ACT subcontractor that did a lot of work for DPR. I could tell DPR was a good company that took care of its people. I’d come onto a job site, see them stretching and flexing and think, “What are they doing?” Now I know that the morning “stretch and flex” is just one example of DPR taking care of us, helping us stretch our muscles before we start work.

Exterior in progress shot
Mendoza and his team are working on the acoustic ceiling tile at the Oceanside Beachfront Resort, an S.D. Malkin Properties development of two adjacent hotels spanning two city blocks. Courtesy of David Cox

Q: Tell us about your current project/your job.

Mendoza: This week, my crew will be doing acoustical tile installation and finishing up some ACT grid. Once those areas are complete, we can get started on the wood ceilings. It’s fast-paced work, but we’ve been on schedule the whole time. Since some spaces are tight, we’re paying close attention to trade stacking. We move in as soon the other trades are done, always making sure there’s enough space for us to maintain that six-foot distance between everybody. DPR is keeping close track of updates on regulations, and we understand that we have to follow those closely.

Two craft workers discussing
Mendoza likes the fast-paced nature of his work and credits his teammates at DPR with keeping close track of COVID related regulation updates to keep the project on schedule. Courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: Why do you think being a self-performing general contractor makes a difference on a project?

Mendoza: Since we’re internal, we go wherever we’re needed and we can get started working on a project sooner. That’s always a good thing. We know the work will be done consistently, according to DPR quality standards. DPR gives us the tools and training we need to be successful—and it’s not just building great things. I took a course called “Crucial Conversations” that has had a big impact on the way I approach people. It reinforced the need for me to always step back and take a moment before I react.

Q: Talk about a time in your career when you intervened to make the work on-site safer.

Mendoza: Safety is very important to all of us. Before we start, we have a morning meeting where we ask the team to fill out a pre-task plan and make sure work areas are free of obstacles or hazards. We work with Perry scaffolds and power tools, so it’s important to make sure everyone has the right tools and regular equipment inspections. By doing these simple steps, we try to eliminate any situation that might compromise a safe environment. You have to stay vigilant and be careful, even if it’s something you do all the time. You cannot get complacent.

Craft worker discussing
"Safety is very important to all of us,” says Mendoza. “We make sure everyone has the right tools and regular equipment inspections. You have to stay vigilant and be careful.”. Courtesy of Matt Pranzo

We do similar work on every project. Our philosophy is always to proceed with caution and to not cut any corners so we can go back home safe and sound. It only takes a fraction of a second to make the wrong decision. It’s just not worth it—it’s not fair to you or your family.

Q: To be successful in your role, what skills does a person need?

Mendoza: The first one that comes to mind is a positive attitude. That allows you to learn. It opens doors so you can learn the right way, and people will be happy and willing to teach you. A willingness to grow and to get along with people is important, especially as it relates to your team. That allows you to work well together and succeed.

Walking around the jobsite
Mendoza credits his success with having a positive attitude and an open mind, which have allowed him to learn, work well with teammates, and ultimately learn from others. Courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?

Mendoza: My advice is to just be honest—with yourself and everyone else. Be up-front about your skills, and if there is something you don’t know, we will give you the training you need to grow. Good craftsmen will teach you what they know. Having knowledgeable people doing the work is one of the ways we keep everyone safe.