When Mike Brascia is presented with a problem, he doesn’t see failure; he sees opportunity.
Whether it’s in the everyday operation of running his general contracting business, finding work in his field or staying involved in the community, Brascia has molded his life and career around overcoming adversities and seeking chances for prosperity.
Starting his own business as a general contractor in the middle of the recession wasn’t easy, he said. Especially after moving to Southern California with his wife and three daughters in 2009 from Las Vegas, the city that had been home for more than a decade. But Brascia and his wife did start the business, and he often had to take on several jobs himself, becoming his own architect and estimator at times.
Mike Brascia is the owner of Brascia Builders, Inc., located at 2801 E. Anaheim St. in Long Beach, and a member of the East Anaheim Street Business Alliance. (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Larry Duncan)
“It was challenging,” Brascia said. “Within two weeks of me getting down here, I had my first job in an economy where there was no work . . . General contractors were shutting their doors down. I didn’t let that stop me. I just kept moving forward.”
Making it through the economic downturn has paid off, as his company, Brascia Builders, Inc., now employs 25 people, has done work for major hospitals and universities throughout Southern California and has completed corporate office tenant improvements for Live Nation Entertainment in Los Angeles and Fenty Corp., the brand of famous R&B singer Rihanna.
After first operating out of the City of Monrovia, Brascia moved his business to Long Beach about three and a half years ago, lured to the city by its close proximity and easy access to many areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties. Located next to well-known and longtime pub Joe Jost’s in the East Anaheim Street business improvement district, Brascia Builders today focuses primarily on projects in the health care, hospitality and commercial sectors, he said.
As a design/build contractor, Brascia learned early on about the importance of establishing a reputation through word-of-mouth and exceeding a client’s expectations.
In 2014, Brascia Builders, Inc. completed tenant improvements on 24,000 square feet of office space for Live Nation Entertainment in Los Angeles. The project included completely demolishing the existing space and building a new open work area, restrooms, a kitchen, conference rooms, private offices, a reception area and new finishes throughout. (Photograph provided by Brascia Builders)
His first job involved an office remodel project in Huntington Beach in which a building inspector required a building permit. To remedy the situation, he quickly drew up plans himself to obtain the permit, and finished the job on time. His ultimate reward has been that the client has given him additional projects.
“You can never be afraid to go to work,” he said. “I put my boots on every morning, whether they’re the shiny black ones or the dusty ones to walk the job sites. I’m prepared for whatever is thrown at me every day. You can’t be too big to get ready and get dirty.”
Brascia, who today subcontracts out work with local architects and engineers, said his prior experience working for Kaiser Permanente, after moving up the ranks into management in the building and construction trades in his early 20s, also helped him develop relationships with clients, providing opportunities in the health care industry, which now represents 75 percent of his business clientele.
After completing his first major project for City of Hope hospital in Los Angeles, Brascia went on to complete projects for the University of Southern California’s medical campus, University of California, Irvine, Hoag Hospital and skilled nursing facilities, he said.
In the hospitality industry, Brascia completed a project about three years ago for the Long Beach Marriott at the Long Beach Airport Business Park that involved completely renovating the hotel’s existing lobby, bar, restaurant, board rooms, buffet and restrooms. Brascia also modified the hotel’s sports bar to include a new exterior patio and signage.
Brascia completed a project for Long Beach Marriott at the Long Beach Airport Business Park in 2013 that included completely renovating the hotel’s existing lobby, bar, restaurant, board rooms, buffet and restrooms. The general contractor also modified the hotel’s sports bar to include a new exterior patio and signage. (Photograph provided by Brascia Builders)
One of the challenges in today’s business climate, he said, is finding the right staff, noting that there continues to be a shortage of qualified workers in the construction trade. Brascia added that another issue is managing overhead costs that can add up to about $100,000 a month on projects that may take 30 to 90 days to complete.
While he has yet to do work for the City of Long Beach, Brascia remains involved in the community, serving on the board of directors for the Community Hospital of Long Beach Foundation, recently participating in the Walk for Kids 2016 fundraiser for the Long Beach Ronald McDonald House in Long Beach and supporting California State University, Long Beach, the Boys & Girls Club and Our Lady of Refuge.
He said Long Beach is a “working man’s city” that has much potential for economic growth moving forward. As a member of the East Anaheim Street Business Alliance (EASBA), Brascia said he would like to see the business corridor flourish with more professional services-related businesses and new development, such as added parking, which would help boost business.
“I hope there are more architects, builders and professionals that go to Anaheim Street and help rebuild the street,” Brascia said. “I see foot traffic on that street but there could be more.”