Gene DiSabatino’s Place in History: EDiS’ Very Own “Forrest Gump!” (Part Two)
Part 2: Gene DiSabatino: The Construction Manager
As Gene returned state side after a life changing experience during WWII, he married his sweetheart, Mary Clare, in September of 1945. They had met in Los Alamos, NM while working on the Manhattan Project. She had been an Executive Secretary to physicist Norman Ramsey. A year later they were honorably discharged and moved to Delaware, where they expanded their ever growing family with the addition of three beautiful girls.
The next 40 years Gene held many positions with Ernest DiSabatino & Sons, starting off as an estimator, working his way up to project manager, then vice president and eventually becoming the president of the company. During this time, Ernest DiSabatino & Sons was a general contractor firm running entire projects, while carrying their own concrete, masonry and carpentry divisions. With construction projects becoming increasingly more involved (with buildings being fabricated in pieces all over the country) Ernest DiSabatino & Sons recognized communication must be precise to bring everything to the site on time, to have the labor ready to do the installing and for all the pieces to fit properly.
Understanding this need, Ernest DiSabatino & Sons decided to try a revolutionary new idea–Construction Management (CM). The nation’s CM expert at the time that assisted Ernest DiSabatino & Sons through the infancy of this CM journey was CM Associates; a company that has gone through several transformations and today is known as Jacobs Engineering. This all began on one uneventful Friday while Gene was playing a leisurely round of golf. Out on the 13th hole, a young caddy came flying out to tell Mr. DiSabatino that he had an urgent call waiting for him back in the Pro Shop. Now, if this was today, all Gene would of had to do was answer his cell phone, but instead they raced back to receive the call. After being told that Gene would be found right away, Paul Weatherly of Delaware Technical and Community College (DTCC) was happy to hear Gene’s frantic voice just to tell him, “ Ernest DiSabatino & Sons will be selected as a joint venture partner with CM Associates to build a new school for DTCC, and we have a meeting on Monday.”
The construction industry recognized that more attention had to be given to the process of building especially with the unprecedented high inflation rates during this period. With Gene at the helm, the company embarked on their first CM joint venture project with CM Associates in August of 1972. DTCC, Stanton Campus was a new 138,000 sq. ft. classroom building that was completed in two phases. Due to competitors’ confusion about this new business model, Ernest DiSabatino & Sons testified in court on agency CM as it related to the State’s Title 29 Chapter 69 procurement laws. Gene recalls a funny moment during the proceeding when the competing attorney brilliantly laid out a defense against construction management by faulting the professional relationship between the Owner, Architect and Construction Manager. To the surprise of everyone in the courtroom that day, the Judge simply asked, “What is wrong with that?”
Needless to say, the company (and the delivery method!) came out on top and today construction management is considered a professional service. Ernest DiSabatino & Sons formed a new company EDiS (now you know how we came up with the name!) to provide construction management services and a new era in our history began.