Disney Development Company
Celebrating MATT Construction’s 25th Anniversary
Twenty-five years ago this summer, Paul, Steve, and Al Matt struck out on their own with no jobs lined up and $5,000 in the bank. What they did have was a deep respect for the craft of building and the belief that that respect and hard work would earn their client’s trust and loyalty.
“We never did spend that $5,000,” muses Steve Matt, MATT Construction’s CEO. “We started in challenging economic times, but we took on unique and very demanding projects and really trying to focus on what each architect was trying to accomplish.” “Complex building is what excites me,” says Chairman Paul Matt. “Let’s do something that’s challenging. We don’t ever say, ‘You can’t do something.’ That’s number one.”
Working without limits
A curiosity about building challenging design was just one part of the founders’ original philosophy. Another core value was collaboration – a belief that a commitment to working together yields the best project.
“If any one person thinks just about how they would do something themselves, they are limited in their capacity as to what they can accomplish,” says Paul. “There is no limit to what you can do if you are willing to learn from others, and if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
This faith in collaboration manifests as a spirit of positivity in an environment that welcomes discourse, encourages making decisions and moving forward, and understands that some of the greatest learnings come from the occasional mistake. “In our company, we want people to be free to do and say what they think is right,” says Paul. “We’re gonna have disagreements. And that’s good. That’s healthy. It makes an organization strong to do that.” He goes on to explain that valuing respectful discourse is an important part of teamwork in service to a project.
The Matts developed this commitment to teamwork early on. “Paul and I came from a family of nine children,” says Executive Vice President Al Matt. “You had to learn teamwork or you wouldn’t survive.”
“The construction business is a small community,” says Al. “We wanted to be seen as upstanding characters in our community.’” Al goes on to speak about how MATT worked to become a leader in the industry, explaining that all leadership starts with communication: communicating clearly, following up, and creating an environment where self-motivated people can thrive.
People took to the idea, and the company grew. “We had a brand new business and everybody responded to the idea of where we wanted to go,” says Paul. “There’s an energy you get when others resonate with your concept.”
Since 1991, MATT Construction has been feeding off that encouragement from the marketplace. “There were buildings that were instrumental in shaping the company because they allowed us to apply the company culture and build a reputation through operational excellence,” explains Steve. He goes on to cite MATT’s first job – a technically demanding cooling system for Disney studios – and then recalls the Harvard-Westlake science center, Disney Ice, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, the LACMA transformation, the Petersen Automotive Museum and the Broad among others. However, “we could just as easily do a timeline of the people that made the difference,” he states. “The people we hire are just as important as those projects. Now those people are growing the company.”
Looking to the future
As they look to the next 25 years, “We want people to think in terms of sustainability beyond our time as founders: master the formula, make it sustainable and encourage what we see in others,” says Paul.
Al Matt also has faith in the formula, and further, in MATT Construction’s people, “One surprise to me has been our recruiting out of college. We have an extremely good group of young people coming up that are not even at the management level yet. I find their poise impressive.”
Steve agrees. “As we look to the future and move into new areas like research labs and creative office space for tech companies, we look for valuable ways to integrate technology into the construction process. I’m proud that over half of our Project Engineers are Revit trained and can lead the BIM coordination process, and that over half of our project management team is LEED accredited.”
Looking to the future, the founders of MATT Construction believe the best is yet to come.