I grew up in Staten Island, New York where the streets were lined with duplex's and there were always kids playing outside.
My dad Louie was my hero. We were best friends first and he was my dad second. He was the ultimate motivator and defined discipline. He was Big Lou and I was Little Lou, or Louie as the kids on my block would call me.
Growing up, my dad and his brothers lived in Brooklyn until they moved to Staten Island; which is where he met my mom. He played football and baseball and my mom was a cheerleader. They met at a football game and became high school sweethearts.
My sister and I grew up on Staten Island. On Sundays, my mom would cook for everyone and the door was open to anyone that wanted to come for dinner. Her Lasagna is the best. She always had to host Sunday dinner because I would only eat her cooking.
I went to Catholic school until the 5th grade, but when I switched to public school, things changed for me. I started seeing the world differently and that became a turning point for me. I think this is where my entrepreneurial drive started to kick in.
I started playing football and baseball at a young age and I loved the competition. I also loved to hear the cheers when I made a good play or had a good game, but what I loved most was the look on my Dad’s face in those moments. As a Quarterback, I have had my fair share of concussions. In High School, I was part of another violent collision which added another concussion to an already long list of sports-related head injuries, and was permanently sidelined. When my doctor refused to sign off on letting me continue to play football, I was crushed. After that, I gave up on sports and it was then that my desire to work and my competitive nature collided. I started focusing my energy on different ventures. Business became my new playing field.
At this point in my life, my parents had recently moved my sister and me to Brick, New Jersey and one of my teachers had noticed my willingness to work hard. He got me a job at a local mall in a store called “The Athlete's Foot.” It wasn't long before I became consumed with my love for business and worked as often as I could. After I graduated, I couldn't imagine not putting all of my energy into my work. Entrepreneurship was in my bloodline, but my dad had taken comfort in being able to provide for our family with a union job as a city worker. If I wasn't going to go to college, he wanted me to follow the same path he had by getting a job that offered securities like health insurance and a pension; like a lot of the men in my family had done. It took some convincing, but with my parent's blessing, my partner and I bought that same store I had been working for in the Monmouth Mall, and I owned my first business at the age of 19.
A few years later, I sold out my half of the business to my partner. My buddies and I saw an opportunity in Dallas, Texas and eight guys in my crew moved out here. Mama DiBella and Big Lou followed as well to make sure we still had our Sunday dinners and a place to hang out and watch sports. We had to be able to watch our Yanks in the summer and our Niners on Sundays during the winter. When I got to Dallas I immediately took a sales job and that is where I met my wife, Francine. It was love at first sight! She was smart, gorgeous and a great cook…and also my biggest competition on the sales floor!
After getting my footing in Texas, I caught the entrepreneurial bug again and invested in a construction company that’s specialized in roofing and gutters. It wasn't long before I was outworking the guys I had invested with and decided to go out on my own. LDJ Gutters was formed in 2012. Alex, Hugo, Frank, Illya, Rey, and Jenni were a part of the team from the beginning, and they are still with me to this day. We quickly expanded our operations from starting out with 1 installation crew to the 20+ crews we have now. We have zero turn-over with our staff and customers. I have always lived by the principle that if you take care of people, they take care of you. LDJ Gutters is a group of hard-working individuals that make it all possible to provide the highest level of service for our customers. We started in Dallas-Fort Worth, but we knew the growth potential was always there.
While the LDJ family was growing, mine and Francine's family was growing too. We settled down and in 2013, gave birth to our son Luca. Three years later, we were blessed with our first daughter Louisa and our second daughter Livia a couple years after that. I think about my childhood and how different it is that we now live on a street with only five homes and lots of space, but the important thing is there are still always kids outside playing. Now, I enjoy watching my son play the sports that I loved as a kid, and I get to be the hero to my two princesses. My wife is my biggest cheerleader and is always by my side, but works hard in her own ventures as well. I was honored when she told me that she wanted to take on the LDJ brand name and branch off from her roofing and construction company to begin LDJ Roofing. Since then, we have opened LDJ Drain Systems and all of our branches have become divisions of LDJ Construction Group. We have a full-service staff and hard-working crews. We love being a part of our community and helping to build and maintain the homes here.
LDJ Gutters has had so much success in Dallas, we are excited that this year we were able to branch out to Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.