Jezowski & Markel Contractors

Jezowski & Markel (J&M) Contractors Inc. hasn’t had much use for slick marketing gimmicks for most of its 58-year history. Instead, the specialty concrete subcontractor has benefitted from the word-of-mouth referrals from general contractors throughout Southern California. “We have excellent relationships with general contractors, and it’s represented by the repeat business we get,” says Joseph Dean, vice president of construction.

“They enjoy Jezowski & Markel because we offer quality construction and we’re easy to work with and stay up to date with paperwork, certifications and insurance as things get more and more complicated.

”Jezowksi & Markel Inc., started by John Jezowski & Al Markel, started in 1953. Paving driveways with wheelbarrows, it then became the first company in the region with its own curb machine and focused its specialty on curb gutter and sidewalks until the early ’90s. Around the early ’60s, Al Markel retired and Charlie Markel formed Markel Cement. John Jezowski ran Jezowski Inc. and passed it on to members of his family.

In the late ‘80s, Mike Barth, current president of J&M, bought Markel Cement from his boss and mentor Charlie Markel. A few years later, he purchased Jezowski Inc. and reformed the original Jezowski & Markel Contractors Inc.

Curb and gutter work remains a portion of J&M’s capabilities, but the company has moved into high-end decorative concrete, as well as pervious concrete. Dean says the company’s contracts range from freeway barriers and minor structures to complete turnkey delivery of decorative concrete for hotels, schools, theme parks and malls.

A New Era

With today’s emphasis on collaboration, Dean says even specialty contractors like J&M get involved early in the design phase of a project to offer expertise. J&M’s ability to educate owners, architects and general contractors on specific advantages and disadvantages of each type of concrete makes additional costs worthwhile and upfront problem-solving possible.“

It has definitely become a low-bid atmosphere; it takes some convincing that the owner is getting a better deal with the quality of construction, less change orders and a guaranteed hassle-free, on-time opening if our number is not the low one,” Dean says. “General contractors can explain to ownership that it is smarter to use them with their pool of subcontractors that they know can perform and show up through the entirety of a job. It will be a great product done ahead of schedule.”

When applying for a contract, J&M typically lets its portfolio do the talking. Because of its longevity in the competitive Southern California construction market, J&M has delivered concrete work for a variety of high-profile projects, including the LAX Thomas Bradley Terminal, Inner City Arts School, Americana at Brand in Glendale and the newly opened JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton at L.A. Live.

“They don’t just give those projects to anybody,” Dean says. “They are entrusting their building to us. Beside the architecture and the landscape, the hardscape is one of first impressions. I think we do a very good job carrying forth the landscape architects’ vision for the building while satisfying owner and customer [needs] throughout the building process.”

Along with delivering decorative concrete, J&M also is adept at working with sustainable materials. The company has been on the cutting-edge with its use of pervious concrete. The concrete’s high porosity allows water to pass directly through it, eliminating runoff.

When this product first hit the construction market about 10 years ago, the knock against it was a lack of aesthetic appeal. In the past six years or so, J&M has worked with others in the industry – including David Akers, senior engineer with the California Nevada Cement Association – to create mixes and designs that catch the attention of architects, officials and the general public.

“It was initially unattractive to most architects,” Dean says. “More color options have increased the decorative aspect; we can also add aggregates and anything else to make it look more high-end and attractive to the builder population. The mix is tighter now  [and] looking more like a flat surface; there are no longer issues for women who are wearing high heels.”

Building on History

One project currently under construction that exemplifies what J&M can deliver is The Little Mermaid ride at Disneyland’s California Adventure in Anaheim, Calif. The ride will feature blue concrete seeded with beaded glass and sand. There are decorative walls and decorative hardscape featuring hand-seeded shells simulating the ocean shore.

“We were among only a few contractors that can install this quality and work,” Dean says. “The pool of bidders was a lot smaller than usual.”

J&M’s heritage with Disney dates back to the original Main Street paving and the decorative hardscape for Autotopia when it was originally designed and then again when it was remodeled. “Back then, Disney would call us up when they needed something done and we’d go do it – working for them was consistent and we were their preferred contractor,” Dean says. “Now we have to compete with some other qualified contractors to get the work there, but it is great decorative work that adds a lot to our portfolio.”

J&M is excited for the opening of The Little Mermaid and has had a good time designing mixes for the Walt Disney Imagineering Team. “It is our goal to give them something better than they imagined, and that is very hard with this team of professionals,” Dean states. “They are up to date on the latest decorative concrete innovations. We were able to utilize some of the newest products that we stand behind and believe will be the future of concrete construction.” 

The Little Mermaid is scheduled to open at Disneyland’s California Adventure in Anaheim in 2011. The date is yet to be announced.

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