Joe has the global perspective of a business executive with 28 years of military service… and the local ties of a Newton resident who remains firmly rooted in the community he grew up in.
Joe has a degree in Civil Engineering from UMass Lowell and an MBA from Boston University. He joined the Navy after college and then pursued a career in the construction industry. He worked as a project manager at A.J. Martini, an executive at Macomber and later as a senior executive at Shawmut, before starting his own firm in 2002.
In September, 2009, after twenty-eight years of military service concurrent with his civilian career, Joe retired as a Captain in the United States Navy Civil Engineer Corps. He was awarded the distinguished Legion of Merit medal for his outstanding service and achievement.
Active in the community as well, Albanese serves on several boards, including as chairman for the New England Center and Home for Veterans and as a board of advisor member for the UMass Lowell Department of Civil Engineering, The Village Bank, and an overseer for the USS Constitution Museum and Boston Architectural College.
It was back in November, 2002 that he founded Commodore…
What propelled you to start your own business?
I wanted to build something different…something employees could have a stake in…could share pride in. I wanted to build an enduring company, a place where people have the opportunity to grow. I wanted to create an environment where people embrace the connection between both the business and the personal aspects of their lives. There’s no such thing as just business for me. Everything is very personal. And I want to make a personal contribution to our clients’ success, to the people who work here and to their families.
Since retiring from the Navy, you’ve had a full time focus on Commodore. Do you miss the military?
What I miss are the frequent opportunities to think globally. When I was a senior Naval officer I was constantly thinking strategically about world defense, security and the global economy.
Now that my work is focused locally, I’ve had to find other ways to connect more broadly – with organizations like World Class Cities Partnership. With them, I’ve travelled to different international cities, exploring the anatomy of innovation. I’ve studied the way countries like Israel, Spain, Portugal and Ireland nurture innovation and entrepreneurship. Together, we’re making a huge effort to learn from the best practices of major partner cities in other countries and to apply them back in Greater Boston. We’re working with smart people who are driving development and change locally and impacting the blueprint of important initiatives like Boston’s Innovation District. That’s where attracting entrepreneurs, breaking barriers to entry, creating affordable housing, improving commerce and the economy in Massachusetts will all pay big dividends.
One of the concerns I’ve always had with the construction industry is that we can sometimes be myopic. I want to expand on all the lessons I’ve learned, in the Navy and in business, to keep my horizons as broad as possible. There’s no boundary between my professional and personal life and I don’t want any boundaries limiting the way I think about the world, either.
You’ve always said that achieving “balance” in life is over-rated. Are you still skeptical?
What I am is still over-extended. I’m working on my ability to prioritize – but, I gave up on balance years ago. I think we have to be successful carving out the time we really need to do what we really want to do. I use Commodore’s 6 Qualities of Excellence as a guide. Those qualities apply to everyone, in just about every facet of life. I’d rather spend my energy developing my capacity, than limit myself by pursuing balance.
In 2012 Commodore acquired A.J. Martini. Would you consider the acquisition a success? A.J. Martini was a 60-year-old family-run construction management firm at the time we acquired them. They brought an experienced staff to Commodore and a large portfolio of commercial office buildings and major institutional projects. Their history of managing large, complex projects, including large office parks, restorations and commercial jobs, has strengthened and accelerated our combined growth. Based on the very positive market reaction, I would say the integration with Commodore has gone very well.
Commodore’s second decade is underway. What’s the personal impact for you?
I’ve got 3 kids, all graduated from college – another reminder that I’m not a young gun anymore. I’m still going through the transition of having children who don’t need me in the same way they used to. I’m tremendously proud of them. And I’m cautiously optimistic. Just the same way that I never quite feel like I’ve arrived – they haven’t arrived either – but I’m hopeful for all of us. Our kids have unlimited opportunities in front of them and I feel good that we’ve been able to help them with that.
We’re mid-way through our second decade as a firm and, personally, I’m proud of the kind of firm we are, what we stand for and our position in the market. I am reminded on a daily basis that it’s our employees’ commitment and dedication that have gotten us to where we are now and, more importantly, that’s paving the way for the future. They are the business.
What’s up for the next ten years?
I’m going to carve out more time for reflection. I recently turned 55, which gives me plenty to reflect on. I’m thinking about how I want to live the next 20 or 30 years, God willing. I want my life to be as meaningful as it can be. I love the quote, “If you want to make God laugh – show him your plan.” But I do want to live every day with purpose – not to feather my own nest – but to do meaningful things. I want to focus on making the people here successful.
I focus on what I can control in life – not so much on how big the pie is going to be – but how much we’re going to do with our piece.
Current Industry and Community Involvement
• Advisory Board, UMass Lowell Francis College of Engineering
• Immediate Past Chairman, Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts
• Chairman of the Board of Directors, New England Center for Homeless Veterans
• Board of Directors, Navy Civil Engineer Corps/Seabee Historical Foundation
• Board of Directors, The Village Bank, Newton Massachusetts
• Chairman of the Board, Leading Cities
Tom was born into a family immersed in the construction industry for four generations. He grew up around job sites. He developed a strength in math and science, a love for engineering and a passion for construction. With that combination, the family’s fifth generation in construction was a fait accompli.
Tom attended BC High School, graduated from Wentworth with a degree in Civil Engineering and earned his MBA from Northeastern. His first job, as a co-op, was with Kennedy & Rossi. When he graduated from college he re-joined the firm. Over the next 15 years, Tom progressed through the ranks from field engineer to an officer of the company.
When Linbeck acquired Kennedy & Rossi in 2000, Tom assumed responsibility for client development in the Northeast Region, working mainly with clients in the bio-tech and institutional markets.
In 2003, he joined Commodore.
Why do you gravitate towards the Institutional and Science markets?
There’s a synergy between the markets. The skills, the systems and the knowledge required to succeed in that space all create a barrier to entry for others. Specializing is a benefit…but the real draw for me is the complexity of the technical components. The unique systems are more exciting and challenging. And there’s a second aspect of the institutional market that compels me. It’s the way in which business is conducted. Committees are often involved in the decision making process and I like to work in that kind of inclusive, collaborative way. My style meshes well with the nature of these organizations.
Why did you leave a successful, well-established company to help start a new one?
I had my own construction business in college. Every day, my friend Mark Crowley and I would get out after classes, and start framing and building. That business put me through college, but more than paying the tuition, it was the result of a desire I’ve always had to grow a company from the ground-up. I left Linbeck because it felt like the right time. I had the energy, the skill and the relationships.
What have you found most satisfying about building a company?
Growing it from the ground-up, so we can do things the way we think they should be done. That lets us do good things for our clients and to create a great working environment for our people. For me, it comes down to people. What’s satisfying to me is that the people who come here to work every day, enjoy the experience. Our approach to building is collaborative. When we help a client reach their objectives, everyone benefits, from the building and from the experience. I’m more satisfied when we get a client closer to their ultimate goal, than to the brick and mortar of their building.
What’s the key to Commodore’s success?
Our approach. We look at the big picture…not just the building. We take responsibility for our clients’ overall success. Otherwise, we’d just be one of the crowd, on our way to becoming a commodity. If clients view us as their partner, we’re able to bring our relationships to the table to influence success. At the end of the day, if one of our Life Science clients introduces a new treatment for cancer, and we’ve been an integral part of their team, we all succeed.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m not the kind of guy who can sit and gaze out the window and then come up with a brilliant idea. I have to work things out in my head…consider the options…talk things through. You won’t see me at the opera. I don’t go to plays…I’m more of a…well…physical, thrill-seeker type. I love skiing…driving cars…riding motorcycles and dirt bikes.
I don’t have a favorite book…but, my favorite movie is Young Frankenstein…does that say something about me? I love crowds…being around people…going out with friends on the weekend…camping with my family…sitting around the campfire, smoking a cigar.
Dave Jolin joins Commodore as our new Chief Financial Officer. He comes to Commodore from Gilbane Building Company, where he held the position of Vice President and Senior Regional Controller. In that capacity, Dave was responsible for the financial operation of Gilbane’s New England, Southeast, Florida and Southwest offices.
Dave joined Gilbane 16 years ago. He worked his way through the Operations, Support Operations and Financial Management functions of the organization. That experience gave Dave a deep and valuable understanding off all facets of construction management.
Dave graduated from Providence College with a degree in Accountancy. He earned his MBA from Bryant University – attending school at night. He remembers being in a Marketing class back in those days, when his pager went off announcing that his wife Suzanne was in labor, ready to deliver their first daughter, Maddie.
Now, Dave is excited to help guide our rapidly growing firm. He says, “Commodore’s growth is providing exciting opportunities for many people, including me. In all of my meetings with Commodore’s executive team, I felt the strong presence of integrity – something that is absolutely essential to me. Construction is a tough industry – and your word is all you have.”
Dave was born and raised in Rehoboth, MA. He lives there with his wife Suzanne and their four children. Dave describes his family as a collection of ships passing in the wind – with never a dull moment. He says, “It’s absolutely crazy…proms, socials, basketball, soccer, football, track. The sports seasons never end.”
When Dave isn’t working, he watches his kids play sports. He says, “I thoroughly enjoy watching them grow and succeed, each in their own way.”
Growing up, Lauren wanted to be a journalist, but when it came time for college, her father, a life-long entrepreneur, would only pay for Babson. Any place else, she was on her own. So she put journalism aside, graduated with a dual degree in organizational behavior and communications… without debt…and with a newfound taste for business.
Lauren joined Ford Motor Company right out of school. She became the first female field manager on the East Coast, before trading-in cars for a career in the nascent days of the computer graphics industry. Her small firm was gobbled up by DuPont, where she spent a few more years as a European market manager.
Done with the international commute, she joined Jack Morton, an IPG company focused on experiential brand communications for Fortune 500 companies. Eight years later, she joined the emerging brand practice at Continuum, an industrial design firm.
When Lauren met Joe Albanese, she wasn’t looking for a new career, but he made her an offer she couldn’t refuse…to help steer his new company, in an industry new to her, and with unlimited potential. Joe was looking for someone from outside the construction industry, with a fresh perspective. The time was right for a new challenge. In January, 2005, Lauren joined Commodore…
How is your experience at Commodore different from when you worked for a Fortune 100 company?
Big corporations invest big money in training. That’s great when you’re right out of school. I wasn’t steering the ship, that’s for sure. How could I? I didn’t know anything except what I’d read in books But the training I got at Ford was priceless. It set the trajectory for my career. Today, I’m a student of the construction industry, but now I have a reservoir of experience to draw from. It’s incredibly gratifying, both personally and professionally, to be involved in so many facets of an organization. My ideas, good or bad, can be measured in moments; results are immediate and they make a difference. It’s intense. There’s no anonymity. It’s accountability in the extreme.
What impact does your role in Organizational Development have on Commodore’s culture?
Organizational Development is about molding a company’s values and attitudes, so the culture that results is healthy and able to adapt to market challenges. And we’ve had plenty of them in recent years. Everything I do is geared towards developing an open culture that’s focused on learning and performance. Culture is potent. It forms leadership on all levels of the organization. It determines the goals we set and the way we pursue them. Commodore can’t ever be “just as good as…” We have to be better. That’s why we spend so much time focused inside, on our people, on their career development. They need the skills and knowledge to be excellent and to feel fulfilled in their work.
What strikes you most about working in the construction industry?
How much I love it. That’s what strikes me most. Almost a decade into my career here, the complexity of the industry still amazes me. So many spheres of influence. I didn’t bring any preconceptions with me about how business here should be done. Joe didn’t want business-as-usual for Commodore. That’s why he hired me. Having permission to do things differently is a rare and exhilarating charter for me…as much today as it was the day I started.
Which part of your brain functions best?
I’ve got the broad brush and the magic wand going. I suspect that makes the engineers around here a little crazy. I have to work harder at visualizing the tiny details to make sure big concepts actually happen. I think my brain’s pretty integrated…but it’s my gut I really trust.
What energizes you?
My family. For me, nothing’s been more complex or rewarding than watching my sons grow. I’m doing more watching than instructing these days, as they launch into adulthood…and marveling at how fast they’ve become citizens of the world.
When are you happiest?
I’m happiest when I’m with my family at our home in Maine, on the Schoodic Peninsula, near Acadia. I love cooking and looking out at the Bay. I’ll cook non-stop for a day and we’ll have food for a week. It’s so remote up there, you could stand naked on the porch, playing the saxophone and nobody would ever see or hear you.
What one thing can’t you live without?
After my family, everything is trivial. But champagne does comes to mind.
Paul started working when he was 12 years old. It was 1963 – and his first project was the St. Brigid School, in Lexington. His mother and father had to drive him to the site. He continued to work during every school and summer vacation, right through college.
He would go on to serve as president of A.J. Martini, Inc., for 35 years. During that time, the Winchester- based, family-owned construction management firm specialized in the private sector of the construction industry, serving clients in the commercial, institutional and healthcare markets.
He graduated from Union College with a degree in Economics and a desire to be independent. He launched a career in finance, joining a big Connecticut bank. He lasted exactly one year in their training program. Banking made him miserable. Building did not.
Paul’s 40 years of industry experience include the restoration of historic Faneuil Hall; the expansion and renovation of Harvard University’s Memorial Hall; and construction of the first phase of the Channel Center project in South Boston.
Paul has played an active role in industry organizations throughout his professional career. He’s served as president of the Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts; as a member of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Designer Selection Board for multiple terms; and on the Massachusetts Convention Center Designer Selection Board.
Paul’s an avid skier and an accomplished golfer. His personal commitment to the community includes active involvement with the Friends of Boston’s Homeless as a member of the board, as well as a past member of the board of Corporators at Wentworth Institute of Technology. He has served on the board of the Winchester Country Club and is currently a member of the board at The Profile Club and a Trustee of New Hampshire’s Holderness School.
On December 4, 2012, Paul and his company joined forces with Joe Albanese and Commodore Builders…
Who are the most influential people in your life?
My father and my wife, Nancy. Nancy’s perspective has been a great settling influence on me. My father brought me up in this industry, in an ethical, hardworking manner. He gave me my ethical direction. He trained me well and I’m determined to be successful, as a result. I grew up in this business watching my father and I think that made my transition to president of the company easier. I always liked what I was doing. I always liked working hard. So did my father. He was well respected in this industry. He was a detail-oriented and professional guy– and we naturally absorbed that. My father treated people professionally and with respect. I never saw my father have a fight with a subcontractor. He had respect for people and he got the job done. This is definitely not our father’s economy.
What’s on your bucket list?
My kids are out of school – I’m good. I’ve done a lot. I’m a happy guy. I’d like to go to Alaska – South America, maybe. Nancy wants to go to Japan and China, but it takes an awful long time to get there and back.
Is it a benefit or a burden to have the same name as a famous drink?
Definitely a benefit. It’s unusual and noticeable – and a good conversation starter. I’ve had to pull out my Amex card on occasion, to show people who didn’t believe me. But then traveling in Italy – we found it was no big deal at all.
What advice do you give your sons?
Think…before you do. Think of the consequences…and then have fun. I think they’re getting there. I mail them stuff in the regular old-fashioned US mail. I send them clippings about business, sports, love – and economics. They get the idea. They stack the envelopes up and every once in a while they read them all. That’s all that counts for me. About every 10th envelope, I stick in 20 bucks – just to keep them opening the envelopes. You gotta sneak up on them.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My age. I’d like to be younger – with more time to enjoy my life.
Do you read much?
Constantly. I read the financial press, the national news, the BBC, the world news, 2 or more newspapers a day. You have to expose yourself to a complete cross section of opinions, or else you won’t be successful. Reading is imperative if you’re going to understand the economy and the impact it has on things like retirement plans and health plans. If you run a business, you have to know how your costs are going to be impacted by legislation, by Wall Street, by new technologies. I read at least a book a week. It refreshes me – gets me to think about something other than business 24/7.
Mike comes to Commodore from the national law firm of LeClair Ryan, where he was a partner in the insurance coverage and litigation practice groups.
Mike has almost 20 years of experience working as a practicing attorney, which includes four years working at Willis Towers Watson, a global insurance broker. During his legal career, Mike has represented contractors, design professionals and owners in all phases of real estate development and construction, from contracts to claim litigation. He has also represented companies in a variety of arbitrations, mediations, employment and wage matters. He obtained the Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation from the Insurance Institute of America in 2007. This wide range of professional experience in construction, insurance and business law makes Mike the perfect fit for the role of Commodore’s first General Counsel. Mike’s role as General Counsel will include responsibility on all legal, human resources, insurance, surety and risk matters.
Mike and his family have deep roots and strong ties to the Boston community. He was born in Dorchester and raised in Quincy. He attended BC High and graduated from Providence College with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration. Mike went on to earn his law degree from Suffolk University Law School’s Evening Division. His career followed in the footsteps of his dad who spent his career as an attorney for the City of Boston working on the City’s public facilities, neighborhood development and construction projects. That’s where Mike got his first exposure to the legal side of construction as a student.
Mike met his wife in his first class at Suffolk Law. They live in Marshfield with two sons and a dog named Marco (after Marco Island, FL). The family goes to the beach and skies together. They also do a lot of sports-related travel for both kids – primarily for summer baseball. Mike coaches youth baseball in Marshfield and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Marshfield Education Foundation. When Mike isn’t working or spending time with his family, he enjoys running and golfing – as time permits.
The People Behind Commodore
Our Senior Leadership Team
Get to know the members of our senior leadership team. Read more in an up close and personal interview with each of our senior executives.