“Mike Cimorelli took a one-two punch from the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only did his commercial construction company see a noticeable hit on business but he became infected and spent weeks in a walking daze.

Now he’s feeling more optimistic about the future.

Not only has he mostly recovered from his illness, he said, but he feels like the scariest part for a business owner, the unknown, is behind him.

“We get a call for something every week,” said Cimorelli, whose firm TI Builders Inc. is based in Sacramento but works in Tennessee and Texas in addition to California. “Now we’re starting to get a backlog.”

When the pandemic, and government measures to stem it, spread in the spring, the company saw its backlog of projects disappear. TI Builders was then spending a ton of money on recruiting new employees, but it would’ve been better spent on marketing to get new jobs instead, Cimorelli said. He also ended up with some “B-level” employees he shouldn’t have hired, he added.

In another respect, the company was lucky. Because of its multi-state footprint, TI Builders had to switch to more remote administrative work five years ago, Cimorelli said. In most instances, as Covid-19 hit, health departments defined construction as an essential activity, so little changed in day-to-day operations.

Cimorelli said he also noticed a second slowdown in activity during the fall, when there were more companies competing for construction bids and each was winning fewer as a result. Whether it was pre-election jitters or another reaction to spiking coronavirus infection numbers, the slowdown didn’t last, and activity is now steady again, he said.

At least for the near future, TI Builders has adapted to social distancing on job sites, providing more washing stations and following new regulations. After an employee at one site tested positive for Covid-19, the company had to inform everyone he’d worked alongside.

But those new requirements aren’t dampening Cimorelli’s optimism for the future, or his excitement about retirement.

“I’m loving what I do,” he said, describing how he plans to open a new branch in Austin, Texas, next year to take advantage of that city’s building boom. “I’m excited, and I’ve got about five more years.” 

Originally Posted by The Sacramento Business Journal

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