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Like father, like sons
Machado and Sons
According to Manuel Machado (far left), Machado and Sons, Inc. has prospered over the years due to passionate involvement of his sons, Michael, Jason and Matthew. - photo by PAUL ROUPE/The Journal

Machado and Sons, Inc., a construction company established in Turlock, formulated from the will and drive of patriarch Manuel Machado, and run in conjunction with his sons Jason, Michael and Matthew, is the epitome of an American success story.

Over three decades ago, with one crew truck, a home which doubled as an office and a vision for the future, the 27-year-old Machado wrangled an opportunity, ended his eight-year tenure with a general contractor, then conceived the embryonic stages of his new company.

Though he started in dairy construction and concrete, Machado soon took on larger projects, building churches and custom homes, but maintained his focus on concrete work.

Gradually, attention steered toward civil construction, providing services such as demolition, grading and asphalt paving, though now their expertise lies in energy infrastructure.

He hoped that at least one of his sons would carry the torch for the next generation, which is why, when they were too young to understand the gravity of his decision, Manuel named his burgeoning enterprise Machado and Sons, Incorporated.   

Not much longer after that, the boys showed fervent desire to work with their father and build on what he had created.

Manuel, reminiscing on those times, grins as only an honored parent can when he describes those days.

“When they were about eight, nine and heavy enough to hang onto the chute of a cement truck, it would just be me out there with a shovel…they would spin it,” he says, motioning his hands in mimicry. “They were already running a concrete truck on the site.”

Some of their earliest memories are of going to job sites with their father, and being a part of what he was passionate about seeped into them at an early age. From him they learned a strong work ethic and how to treat people with respect and fairness.

It was never work for them. The eldest son Jason, 34, remembers fondly the summers he put in quality hours driving a dump truck or hauling dirt out of a tractor. To a 10-year-old, maneuvering massive machines is more like a childhood fantasy bursting to life.

“It was just fun,” he says, blushing with pride. “We enjoyed every minute of it. As you get older, it’s great because we own a bunch of dirt toys and we make money out of it.”

Michael, 31, recalls the days he went with dad while he was erecting the Stevinson bull arena around 1990, picking up nails and taking pleasure in his sunburned face. He didn’t see it as a chore, and with age came the immeasurable satisfaction of driving away from a completed job knowing that he had built it.

Not to be outdone, the brawny little brother Matthew, 29, sought to follow in the boot prints of both father and elders. He started pouring concrete at eight years old, when most boys his age were still slamming plastic Tonkas together in the backyard.

One Saturday around 8 a.m., while he was still young enough to challenge the restrictions of child labor laws, he was helping pour the Denair High School dugout. One of his peers, clutching a baseball bat, approached the field. The kid’s father wondered where Matt was.

“He’s on his lunch break,” Manuel replied.

Surprised, the pair saw Matthew passed out in a cocked-down wheelbarrow, his cement-dappled sweater pulled tight around his face.

“It was comfortable as hell,” he insists with a smirk.

Few children of a man who owns a business would show as much motivation as the Machado sons, and to prove it they each attended college. Jason went to Stanislaus State and played baseball, Michael swung the stick on a scholarship for St. Mary’s, earning a degree in business, and Matthew rushed around the rugby pitch at Chico State, majoring in construction management.

It is in part because of the boys that Machado and Sons, Inc. is as successful as it is today, as they managed to not only match their father’s determination and commitment, but raise it to a level where steady growth seemed to be an inevitability.

Manuel hammers home this point when he says that “without them, I would have seven employees, not 60.”

His wife, Mary, asserts that “Manuel treats his sons with equality, and their impact and contribution is invaluable to the success of the whole family.”

That prosperity has blossomed into 30 trucks and three yards, with the headquarters on S. Kilroy in Turlock, one in Bakersfield and another in Anaheim. Their projects extend from Redding to San Diego and as far east as Lake Tahoe. They consistently employ about 60 people, but during the height of the season those numbers can swell up to around 100.

But the construction business isn’t always a smoothly paved road, and during the recent economic crisis Machado and Sons, Inc. was no exception to the fallout. Though they managed to stay afloat, Manuel says that “the downturn was definitely a test for us.”

However, through disagreements and head-butting common in a clash of the old and new schools of thought, they remain a close, tight group with similar goals in mind.

Sure, things get strained, as with any kin-centric business, but ultimately, it’s all about moving forward as one conjoined organism.

“We always keep the family first and make decisions based on what’s best for the family as a whole,” says Michael.

They know how important it is to continue the Machado name to subsequent generations, but they place no pressure on their children to do so. If they want to get on board, that’s great.

But if, as Matthew puts it, “they want to go to Juilliard or play violin or hit a baseball,” then that’s fine too.

Jason sums up this sentiment nicely when he says that “as we get older, we want the business to live on for a long time, and we just hope our kids enjoy it as much as we do.”