DE’s Daisy Construction Still Growing After 30 Years

Thu May 29, 2003 - Northeast Edition

Daisy Construction Company has been “Paving the Way since 1973” when 20-year-old Leonard Iacono finished his active duty in the Air Force and founded his business as Daisy Concrete.

On May 1, Daisy celebrated its 30th anniversary in grand style at the Riverfront Arts Center in Wilmington, DE. Many friends, colleagues, employees and public officials, including Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and Mayor James Baker of Wilmington, came by to congratulate Iacono on his company’s milestone.

“I came out to recognize this company; they have been a very active, solid company in this area for a long while,” Baker said. “We use them in the city quite a bit and they do a good job for us. What Daisy does is a hard job because you disrupt people; they get upset because they can’t do what they’re used to doing; businesses can lose business because construction is taking place in front of their places — it’s a hard thing because everyone wants the job done as quick as possible. But Daisy is very good at minimizing all the potential disruption.”

Gov. Minner agreed. “I’ve known Daisy a good long time,” she began. “My first husband was in construction and, of course, we’ve [the administration] been involved, and I understand asphalt paving and all the work that gets done whether it’s catch basins or whatever. And I’ve had the occasion over my career in government to see some of the projects Daisy has done — they do outstanding work, very conscientious and it makes a difference. We’re blessed in Delaware — we have good contractors who look out for the best interest of the city at the same time they’re doing a project.

“When a road is under construction, I’ll be the one who’ll get the complaints. There are some companies that aren’t as conscientious as others, but this is one that makes sure they don’t leave any problems behind. That makes a big difference,” Gov. Minner concluded.

Reaching 30 years in business doesn’t surprise Iacono, who from a very early age knew that construction was the only thing he ever wanted to do.

Iacono grew up working for his father, who owned a small concrete and landscaping business, and his brother, who is a builder. He attributed his basic knowledge and background in the industry to them, both whom he considers his mentors.

“I always knew — ever since I was a kid — that I wanted to be a contractor,” Iacono began. “A lot of kids, no matter how old they are, will ponder what they want to do; but I always knew. It was in my blood. In fact my father, even though he was a contractor, tried to talk me out of it — he wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, but I said, ’no Dad, I love construction, I love the work, I love the outdoors, I love everything about it.’

“To me it’s the passion as much as it’s a career. That’s why I knew Daisy Construction would survive, because of the dedication, not only of myself, but people in our organization and the hard work,” he said.

Iacono started out by doing patios and sidewalks. “We were a concrete contractor, literally going door-knocking to solicit work from homeowners,” he said. “Then, after awhile, we started getting involved in doing work for private customers and developers and then municipality work and state work. And it just grew from that. It was a slow but steady pace.”

When asked about his company’s unusual name, Iacono said that he chose the name “Daisy Concrete” because he knew that it would make an impression on his clients. He also liked the paradox between the softness of a flower and the strength of concrete. Later, given the diversity of his company, he changed the name to Daisy Construction.

But it wasn’t easy at the beginning. Iacono explained, “The largest problem I had was that I started this business when I was 20 years old. People looked at me like, ’what do you know?’ It’s sort of a mark against you. You don’t get credit for experience. I worked with my father when I was old enough to walk and even though I was young, I had a lot of background as a contractor. But I still had something to prove.

“We overcame that by just going out there and doing quality work and having people see you do that,” Iacono said, who credits the Market Street Mall project as Daisy’s turning point.

“When we got that project back in 1974 and 1975, that was the first significant jump for us. Back then it was a half-million dollar project, which was very significant then, and that sort of leap-frogged into other projects,” he said.

The project involved reconstruction of the Market Street Mall, a couple of blocks, and installing concrete planters, while doing some road reconstruction in downtown Wilmington.

“It was unique because you had to maintain traffic and pedestrian traffic, so there was a lot of coordination,” Iacono noted.

Daisy has been growing ever since. From renovating the Market Street Mall to paving the I-95 corridor, the business has expanded dramatically. Its annual gross of more than $30 million and the employment of 200 people place Daisy Construction as a leader in the heavy highway and site development construction industry. The company maintains its own trucks along with an extensive fleet of construction equipment. Daisy also is well noted for its expertise in managing all aspects of large-scale construction highway and site projects, which includes site planning and development, asphalt and concrete paving, storm water management, underground utilities and structural concrete construction.

The business also is closely affiliated with two asphalt material and concrete transit manufacturing plant operations, which ensures a reliable and high-caliber quality supply of materials for all its construction projects. In addition, Daisy Construction has excellent bonding capability with unlimited pre-qualification in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, providing a business with the financial resources and the ability to handle any size or type of project.

The employees of Daisy Construction Company deliver complex projects on schedule and on budget. They work closely in the planning stages with their clients.

As a result of this teamwork, Daisy Construction was awarded a 2000 Excellence in Construction Award by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Delaware for the Cauffiel Connector Road Project. This job presented numerous challenges, which included a fast-track design, public information communication and construction scheduling necessitated by the closing of I-95. The schedule then was compressed from the original 322 calendar days to 155 calendar days. Daisy overcame other obstacles during this project, such as the removal of excessive rock, which did not delay the project. The company also was recognized for the 2001 Outstanding Highway Project by the Delaware Department of Transportation — the SR7, SR72 to Pennsylvania state line.

Safety is extremely important to Daisy, which employs a full-time safety director who conducts hazard analysis for each job site. This effort has been rewarded with a Gold Level Safety Award by the ABC of Delaware.

High-grade quality construction, along with its sense of streetscape aesthetics, place Daisy in the forefront of the industry. The Market Street Mall renovation and Wilmington Riverfront project are prime examples of Daisy’s craftsmanship. The Wilmington Riverfront was formerly an abandoned warehouse Brownfield site that was transformed into a beautiful shopping and walking destination. Here the artisans of Daisy used varied construction media of colored concrete, colored concrete pavers, various polished stone pavers and brass panels and inlay to create unusual design elements.

Daisy Construction’s current endeavors include Streetscape projects in Rehoboth Beach, DE, Rising Sun, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace, MD, as well as road resurfacing of Route 40, and new highway construction along I-95 and Route 22 in Maryland. In addition, Daisy is near completion of site development work for The Bluff at Bethany Bay in Bethany Beach, DE.

So what’s next on the agenda for Daisy Construction Company? Over the past 18 months Daisy has been seriously committed to marketing its services to several counties in Maryland, all counties in Delaware as well as southeastern Pennsylvania. Iacono said he sees a tremendous potential for growth in the projects involving the private sector. By targeting and servicing the private sector, Iacono said he’s expanding his business opportunities to the next level.

“After you build the roads, communities have the opportunity to expand and with that growth comes the need for creation of a larger infrastructure — better roads, schools, hospitals, shopping centers and traffic control to accommodate this growth. We have been addressing this potential and will be emphasizing this in our strategic planning for the future,” he explained.

“We’ll be moving forward. We’re a growing business, so we’re always changing our philosophy to keep up with the changing times. We don’t stagnate because we’re always thinking of ways to do the job better. As long as the fire is burning, it will be there. When the fire goes out, we’ll stop,” he said.

Daisy currently has offices in New Castle, DE, and West Grove, PA. Future plans include the opening of a Maryland satellite office to better service the clientele located in that state.