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Home | SAN ANTONIO | Spotlight | Spotlight - Michael Rodriguez President and Stephen Park Vice President E-Z Bel Construction LLC

Spotlight - Michael Rodriguez President and Stephen Park Vice President E-Z Bel Construction LLC

image L-R: E-Z Bel Construction, Vice President, Stephen Park and President, Michael Rodriguez, Jr.

SAN ANTONIO - It’s kind of funny what things are important to a young man especially when you don’t really know what it is you want. For some it’s flying by the seat of your pants. For some it’s girls, fame, sports and for others, it’s a car.

When was E-Z Bel Construction started?
    Michael:  My dad started the business in 1971

Where did you grow up?

    Michael:  I grew up in San Antonio.
    Stephen:  Born and raised in Bandera.

Did you always know you wanted to be in construction?

    Michael:   I wanted to be an architect. I had no desire to go into construction.
    Stephen:  I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.  But I had no intention of going into construction either. Once I got into construction, I was talking to my grandmother and she pulled out my grandfather’s resume, a four-page resume.  I started looking at it and said this is exactly what I do – manage crews, working utilities. His resume is framed here in my office.

How did you get into construction?
    Michael:  I started doing surveying work with my dad at an early age. My dad was a surveyor working for Earl J. Wentworth for a while until he decided to go out on his own.
    When I was around 10 years old my dad would take me afterschool and on weekends to Von Ormy to layout lots and grading, set blue tops, wrap labs with tape, flagging or just to give my dad line on top of a transit box.  I think he took me out to work just to punish me.  I’d being lying out at the pool, enjoying my summer and he would walk up and say, “I need an extra hand.”
    Stephen:  I got started in construction as a teenager while in high school to make some extra spending cash.  My first job was a tile setter’s assistant.  I did that for four summers straight.  I was in the Corps at A&M and really intended on commissioning out of A&M into the Army, but that didn’t work out. When I graduated from A&M, I went to work for a family-owned business doing landscaping and that was not a good idea. After that I went to work for a steel contractor in Dripping Springs. 

Stephen, what is your degree in?
    I got a degree in Agricultural Leadership & Development.  When I was a junior at A&M my counselors told me I had not yet declared my major and needed to do so. Still not knowing what I wanted to do, I asked for their input.  Looking at my grades, which weren’t all that great, we decided that was the best course for me.
    I went back and got my Masters Degree in Construction Science and Management at UTSA because I finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up.  It’s amazing how much better you do in school when you know what it is you want to do.
    Michael:  What’s interesting about that is when he went back to school and finished the program, they asked him to apply for a professor’s position and they hired him.  He taught there for five or six semesters.

Are you still teaching Stephen?
    I’m not doing that anymore.  We have an almost two-year old and time got pretty tight. I was just an adjunct professor. 
It was a lot of fun, and we got two great interns from it.

When did you come to work for E-Z Bel?
    Michael: I got lured into construction. I still remember the day like it was yesterday.  I told my dad I was going to join the Air Force.  And he said, okay.  About two weeks later, I was going to work with him and we were driving south on San Pedro. Tindall & Son was right there, north of the railroad tracks at Hildebrand at Olmos Drive and he pulls in and says, “What do you think about that El Camino.  That’s a pretty nice El Camino.  If you don’t go into the Air Force you can have that El Camino.”  I told my dad it looks like I’m going to have that El Camino.  For $7,000 he bribed me into coming to work for him at E-Z Bel.
    Stephen:  Short version. I met Michael sometime after I had started working for the steel erector.  One day I got a call that E-Z Bel was looking for someone.  I came down that very day to meet with Michael and started working for E-Z Bel about two weeks later.

Michael, what did you start out doing when you came to work for E-Z Bel?
    I worked out in the field throwing concrete, pouring curbs, learning how to run a job, and building construction. My dad went from surveying into curb work and then into vertical building. I hated doing vertical building, so I asked my dad what do you really want to do and he said “I want to do some dirt work.  I want to do some city work.”  So we got into dirt work and pursuing city work. 
    I had gotten into it mostly by doing curbs. I had wanted to get back into curb work.  I wanted to get back into  concrete work because we were making a lot of money doing machine laid curbs.  We bought a brand new 3500 Power Curber back then. It was the first one in San Antonio.  I got a couple of huge contracts with the City of San Antonio as a subcontractor with Eby Construction for 90,000lf of curbs that lasted three years.  And that’s how we learned to start bidding city work.
Stephen, when did you come to work for E-Z Bel?
    I came to work for E-Z Bel January 31, 2011 as a project manager.

Michael, after you came on board, how long before your parents retired?

    I started full-time in 1985.  They started retirement in 1995 thru 2000.  Ish came on board at that time as CFO. He got our books in order. Helped me with management and HR and helped me get ready for the transition, getting the stock out of mom and dad’s and into mine.  Ish is still around and has been for about 22 years.
    My parents have been fully retired since 2005.  Dad still comes around, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We go to lunch and visit jobsites.

Stephen, when you decided not to go into the military, did your parents support your decision?
    Well, there’s a large gap from when I decided military wasn’t going to be the route for me and construction was.  But yes they were very supportive of my

Are you married?  Do you have children?
    Michael:  Yes I am married.  My wife’s name is Cheryl. We have two children ages 27 and 24.
    Stephen: Yes I am.  My wife’s name is Jennifer.  We have an almost two-year-old boy.  His name is Macrae.  We have another on the way.

What do you all do when you are not working?  What do you do for fun?
    Stephen: We spend time with friends and family.  Could be at the ranch, on the water or in the backyard. I’m the oldest of seven and have quite an extended family.  Just being with Jennifer and Macrae is a lot of fun, regardless of where we are or what we’re doing.  Being with them is always the best part of my day.
    Michael: I get on the water.  We have a place down in Corpus.  My wife lives down there and I commute to see her every weekend.  So spending time on the water, whether fishing or not, it doesn’t matter.  I enjoy fishing.  That’s what I’d rather be doing is fishing on the water, otherwise we’re boating.  And I love to cook.  Cheryl allows me to cook when I’m there.

What is your specialty?
    Michael: I would say rabbit - rabbit stew, French rabbit stew.

Do you have any regrets going into construction?
    Stephen:  I have no regrets going into the construction industry.  How could I?  To have regrets would imply that I’m not grateful and I am so grateful.
    Michael:  The opportunities that have been giving me have been enormous.  It has allowed me to create opportunities with the people on my team around me.  And the opportunities that my employees have been able to obtain by just giving back to them are from being in the construction industry. There’s no way I would have been able to do all that without the opportunities given to me.
    My parents allowed me to spend their capital and to wager that money
towards my benefit.  It was their money and they let me do that and I’m so
grateful for that too.
What is the one thing you would like our readers to know about you?

    Michael: I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my mom and dad and the opportunities they gave me. I couldn’t have done it without my wife.  She kept me going.
    Stephen: What Michael is saying is reflected in our purpose at E-Z Bel – “Building opportunities through constructing our communities.” It’s less about the roads we build and more about the opportunities that are given to the 180 plus employees and what it means to them and their families. There are a lot of folks here that have made it beyond their circumstances because E-Z Bel created an opportunity for them, including myself.
    I don’t believe there is such a thing as a self-made man.  Nobody can do it on their own. Sometimes people just need a chance, an opportunity. And that’s why we’re in business. –cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net