The Grassi Team

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Mark Grassi, Founder

Mark began in the construction trades while still in school. He honed his skills working in Chico and Napa until he decided to open his own company in 1989. He quickly found that he enjoyed the business end of things and put the same custom care into creating a company that he always put into his projects as a carpenter. He says, “Grassi & Associates is distinctive because our team is comprised of people who came up through the trades. They know building from the inside out and that experience is invaluable.” While Mark’s original intent was to specialize in custom residential projects, he and his team realized that “select commercial projects like boutique wineries have much in common with custom residential projects. The focus is on quality craftsmanship and design. That’s our native tongue.” A husband and father of two, Mark laughs when he says that his daughters and wife, “are cursed with the eye of a builder. They can walk into a place and see the signs of good craftsmanship. And they can definitely see the signs of bad work.” When Mark is not in the office or on the job site, you might find him riding his bike—often with others from Grassi & Associates— fishing, or working to perfect Grassi wine, a vineyard he started with his wife Jami.

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Paul Niles, Partner & Project Manager

Paul has been with Grassi & Associates since 2000 and he, like everyone at Grassi, brings a passion for custom building to each project. Paul says, “At Grassi, everything we do is purely custom, one-of-a-kind and never duplicated.” Having worked as a superintendent and project manager at other firms, Paul knows that working at Grassi is different. How? “The team approach runs through everything we do. From the way we work with our subcontractors to the way we engage with the architects and clients, it’s a team.” And from that distinctive relationship comes distinctive work. “I’m proud of the way our work reflects our clients and the vision they developed with their architect.” Like Mark, Paul and his wife also have two daughters who keep them on their toes. When Paul takes off his hard hat and leaves the job site or the office for the day, you might find him beating Mark up the hills on a road bike ride (unless he’s tired).

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Jeff Mihelish, Partner & Project Manager

You might think of Jeff as “old school” when you hear that he’s been with Grassi & Associates for 20 years. True, he’s backed by years of experience in the trades and managing projects, but he’s also committed to innovation. “It’s more than just construction.” Jeff says, “It’s more of an art project. Our clients are savvy and understand that achieving their vision takes commitment and innovative thinking.” In his tenure with Grassi & Associates, Jeff has seen “many clients come back to us a second or a third time to build another house or another commercial project.” He’s proud of their repeat clients and says, “The fact that our clients come back to us for their other projects is the best form of feedback. They liked the work we did and they liked the process.” Jeff loves working at Grassi because, “Every day brings new challenges. There is nothing cut and dry about what we do. I’ve always thought it’s a good day if you learn something new and we’re constantly learning.” Jeff is as serious about his golfing as he is about his building. While he doesn’t readily reveal his handicap, we suggest you don’t play for money unless you’re ready to part with some of yours.

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Laurie Daw, Partner & Office Manager

Laurie has worked with Grassi since the beginning and Mark admits, “Laurie is the real boss around here. She runs the show and makes the rest of us look good.” For her part, Laurie takes great pride in her work and the company. She says, “It’s been like watching a child grow up. I was there for the early stages, when we had three or four employees, and I’ve been able to be a part of growing this business. Nearly 25 years later, I’m so proud of what we’ve done.” Laurie praises the top-notch craftsmen and managers who approach each job with “a commitment to excellence.” Laurie says, “Because most of our employees have been with us for five years or more, they know our culture, and they appreciate that they each have a significant role in our success.” As the office manager Laurie sees every aspect of the business and she understands that the inspiration for excellence is, time and again, the client. “Our team takes enormous pride in what we accomplish. We take the ‘custom’ aspect of each project to heart. We want to make sure each client understands that what we do for him is one-of-a-kind.” Laurie is not just the office mom at Grassi, she is also the mother of two teenage daughters who have grown up around the business. Laurie says, “This business is a family business. We’ve watched each other’s kids grow up and we’ve been a part of each other’s lives for years—that’s part of what makes us such a great team.”

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Lee Winkeller

Lee’s credits his childhood as a military kid for his adaptability. Having moved frequently, Lee had to learn early on to adjust to new situations. “I was an easy going kid,” he says. “I could adapt, probably because I take the pancake approach—always look at both sides of a situation.” But he also credits his father—who worked his way up through the military ranks—for his attention to detail, a skill required for the types of projects he tackles at Grassi & Associates. With a long career working in a variety of construction jobs—from building schools and hospitals and working on the Alaskan pipeline to high-end wineries and homes, Lee has learned from each endeavor the value of hard and good work. “I love what we do at Grassi. Each project is a new challenge—whether it’s commercial or residential. I like seeing a project grow from the beginning through the end—seeing expectations met or surpassed and finishing a project to the highest standards.” And like any good Grassi team member, Lee has started road biking again. He says, “It’s sort of a job requirement!”

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Ralph Dahllof

Don’t expect to find Ralph Dahllof sitting still for long. Guided by a love of adventure developed during his years outdoors, Ralph headed to the mountains whenever he could. In fact, the call of the mountains was so strong that Ralph took a break from college to study the rivers and roads of the Rockies. Later Ralph sought adventures in unlikely places. He says, “I spent some time in Philadelphia and lived in L.A. for a couple of minutes.” After a decade or so building amazing estates around Lake Tahoe he met Mark Grassi. The team approach at Grassi appealed to Ralph, as well as Grassi & Associates’ unwavering commitment to excellence. Ralph says, “At Grassi, we build epic projects, and everything we do, we do it to the highest possible standards. The entire team buys into that, and we all trust each other to live up to those standards.” When he’s not on the job site, Ralph loves to bike, fish, ski and play golf. “Loving your job this much can be a problem,” says Ralph. “My friends get really sick of hearing me talk about what a great job I have!”

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