Eight people in bright safety jackets stand on a construction site
Peter Morandi, Chief Executive Officer, Eastman Cooke & Associates

Peter Morandi headshotPeter Morandi grew up just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, among a family of contractors  —  his grandfather, father, uncles and cousins  —  who contributed to his early passion for construction. “They were a huge influence in my life,” Morandi said. Not only did these men show him the ropes of construction, but they also taught him another very important business lesson  —  how to successfully lead employees and properly meet client expectations.

After high school, Morandi worked his way through college as a carpenter while studying construction management and engineering at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. When he graduated early, a family friend offered Morandi a job at Chapman Construction and Design in Newton, Massachusetts, which further sharpened his managerial skills.

“I learned a lot from those guys,” said Morandi, who spent any time he could honing his skills, not only in trade, but also in business. “I just kept piling on more and more experience, more and more education. I tried to learn as much as I could. I was like a sponge.”

During his time at Chapman, Morandi learned through trial by fire. “They really gave me a run for my money,” he laughs. “I remember going to work every day with knots in my stomach wondering what was going to happen.” 

Many times, a higher-ranking employee would task Morandi with something he’d never done previously, providing little direction or instruction. Morandi, who nodded and got right to work, would then seek out a more experienced fellow team member to answer his questions and help him figure things out. “It was a good education in that I was pushed out into the fire, but they would always come and save me before I messed anything up,” he said.

Morandi also gleaned valuable insight and experience about the administrative side of the business  —  payables, estimates and operations. That would prove beneficial in 2009, when Morandi decided to start his own company, Eastman Cooke & Associates (ECA), on the heels of a recession. “My wife and I had also just welcomed our fourth child,” he said, acknowledging it probably wasn’t the best time to open a new business. “But in a way, it was perfect timing because we learned how to [be resourceful].”

Things aren’t quite as stressful these days. In fact, Morandi starts each morning with a meditation session. Then he reviews his path for the day and heads into the field to visit job sites and show support to his superintendents and subcontractors. “It gives [my team] the opportunity to show off their work,” said Morandi.

After checking in with his workers, Morandi is free to focus on business development and business management, such as meeting with colleagues and fellow construction professionals, learning more about upcoming industry projects, and discovering potential crossover partnership opportunities with other companies. He then tucks that information away to reassess later during what he calls his “Einstein hours,” in which he evaluates how things he has learned could transform into business initiatives or forward the construction industry as a whole.

In fact, Morandi is so committed to sharpening not only his company, but also the construction industry in general, that ECA is working with LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, New York, to help graduates successfully enter the workforce via a virtual job fair.

“We’ve developed an academic-to-industry connector,” said Morandi. “We also use this opportunity to give feedback, such as ‘here’s what the curriculum teaches, but here’s what students could learn more about.’ We want to teach the students how you handle yourself on a jobsite, [how to manage] safety, how to communicate properly, and how to present yourself as an elite craft worker.”

Morandi exhibits in word and deed that inspiring his workers, as well as the next generation of construction industry professionals, is close to his heart. His advice to those entering the field? “Take it all in,” he said. “There’s not a lot of instant gratification. But if you’re willing to work hard, [you can create] something that’s going to stand the test of time. You can drive by a building and say, ‘I built that.’”

Morandi experiences this himself whenever he and his family drive by one of his past projects and his son proudly points and proclaims, “Dad! You built that!”