Mark began in the construction trades while still in school. Working in Chico and Napa, he honed his skills opening his firm in 1989. The attention he put into carpentry transferred to the business side of creating a company. Mark says, “Grassi & Associates is distinctive because our team is comprised of people who came up through the trades. They know construction from the inside out, and that experience is invaluable.” While the company initially specialized in bespoke residences, he and his team found they could use their building expertise on select commercial projects like boutique wineries. “The focus is on quality craftsmanship and design. That’s our native tongue,” he explains.
A husband and father of two, Mark laughs when he says that his wife and daughters, “are cursed with the eye of a builder. They can walk into a place and see the signs of good craftsmanship. And they can see the signs of bad work.” When Mark is not in the office or on a job site, you might find him riding his bike, often with others from Grassi & Associates. He also enjoys catching fish to pair with the perfect glass of Grassi Ribolla Gialla, a vineyard he started with his wife, Jami.
Paul has been with Grassi & Associates since 2000 and he, like everyone at Grassi, brings a passion for custom building to each project.”At Grassi, everything we do is purely custom, one-of-a-kind and never duplicated,” he says. For one of these unique projects, an agrarian compound located on Howell Mountain, Paul collaborated with Field Architecture. The three buildings, grounded on subterranean rock, feature reclaimed old-growth Douglas Fir siding supported by a timber and steel frame. “I’m proud of the way our work reflects the clients’ vision they develop with their architect,” Paul says. Having worked as a superintendent and project manager at other firms, he 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 our engagement with the architects and clients, it’s a team.”
Like Mark, Paul and his wife also have two daughters who keep them on their toes. When he takes off his hard hat and leaves the job site or the office for the day, you might find him fishing or beating Mark up the hills on a road bike ride.
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!” Laurie takes great pride in her work and the company. “I was there in the early stages when we had three or four employees – over 30 years ago – I am so proud of what we’ve done.” As the office manager, Laurie sees every aspect of the business. She readily points out that the client’s enthusiasm becomes our inspiration for excellence.
Laurie praises the top-notch craftsmen and managers who approach each job with passion and a real ‘commitment to excellence.’ “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. Our team of skilled craftsmen takes enormous pride in what we accomplish, and the ‘custom’ aspect of every project to heart. We make sure that every client understands that what we do for them is one-of-a-kind.”
Laurie says, “Grassi & Associates is a ‘family’ business. We’ve watched each other’s kids grow up alongside our business, and have been a part of each other’s lives – that’s part of what makes a great team.”
Growing up in the Bay Area, Ralph headed to the mountains whenever he could. The call of the wilderness was so strong he chose to follow his dreams in the mountains. He later sought adventures in unlikely places. He says, “I spent some time racing bikes in Philadelphia and lived in L.A. for a couple of minutes.” After returning Northern California, he built custom estates around Lake Tahoe for a decade or so. Soon after coming down from the Sierras he met Mark Grassi. The team approach at Grassi & Associates was appealing to Ralph along with the firm’s unwavering commitment to excellence: “At Grassi, we build pretty epic projects. Everything we do, we do it to the highest possible standards. The entire team buys into that. We all trust each other and try every day to live up to those marks.”
Ralph does his best to balance work with his love for adventure and the outdoors. Don’t expect to find him sitting still for long. He bikes, fishes, skis, paddles, golfs and hangs out at the lake with his wife Jodi as much as he possibly can.
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!”
Texas native Steven was drawn to California by an early childhood memory, “My father was in the Army, stationed at the Presidio. There was no housing on the base at first. We spent the summer in the WW2 barracks just north of Sausalito. Roaming those hills, left an indelible impression on me.” Steven returned to Northern California after twenty-one years of building custom homes in Texas. As project manager for Grassi, he brings an unusual perspective, having a degree in Art History and Studio Art along with Architectural studies. While appreciative of Modernist art and traditional Japanese architecture, construction has always been a passion for him. “I have built things all of my life. I have always been fascinated with bringing abstract ideas into the reality of our three-dimensional world. Also, there is the satisfaction of looking back at something you helped physically create,” he explains.
Grassi provides the perfect venue for Steven to combine creativity with craft, “We develop great relationships with creative architects and clients who value craft. It is a relatively small group of contractors who appreciate this niche,” he says. When not working for Grassi, Steven is building his family’s dream home on an acre of land in the hills of Sonoma.
Mike grew up in construction with his father building bridges and hydroelectric dams. While his father’s career took the family to Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, the 4th generation Californian spent most of his youth in the Golden State. After doing odd jobs on building sites as a kid, Mike studied biology in college. The degree led to seasonal employment with the Fisheries Programs for the US Forest Service. Deciding that construction was a better career path, he went back to grad school to earn a Masters of Engineering. In the fisheries, he learned a vital lesson that transfers over to construction management: collaboration. “Grassi prides itself on being team players and collaborating with all of a project’s stakeholders. We put forth a lot of effort to try to make other peoples’ jobs easier and the project as a whole, more enjoyable,” he says.
Mike prides himself on the quality and attention to detail of his company’s output. When not on job sites, his energies revolve around his young twin girls. He elaborates, “My wife and I have a running joke when we talk to people about our personal lives and refer to most of our hobbies as BC, before children!”