Behind the Hard Hat: Dowling Edition

Jim, the founding father of Dowling Construction, has worked in the construction business for over 30 years. Some of the companies listed on his resume are PDQ Contractors, CalMat Properties Co., and Utgard Construction, Inc. Throughout the years Jim has acquired hands on skills through cabinet making and door installation, in addition to property knowledge as a property manager. This combination of field and management experience have made Jim into a well-rounded, driven individual who is superb at overseeing tenant improvement projects.

In 1998, Jim decided it was time to become his own boss—and he vowed to be the boss he always dreamed of having. A good friend and colleague, Scott Cass, provided a corner of Cass Plumbing’s office to Jim as a place to pour Dowling Construction’s foundation. Another crucial element to Dowling’s success that emerged from Cass Plumbing is Gayle Johnson. She was working there as a receptionist while attending school at San Diego State University, and once she graduated with her Accounting degree she became Jim’s first employee.  However, simply calling Gayle an employee is a severe understatement— she is the fuel that ignites Dowling Construction’s fire, Jim’s right-hand woman and backbone of the company! To finish off the team, Jim hired Marty Ludeman—a previous co-worker from PDQ —as the superintendent. Together, Jim, Gayle, and Marty built Dowling from the corner out, starting with small T&M door installation jobs.  Eighteen years later, Dowling Construction has grown into a team of 26 employees (many of whom are related), occupies their own large office space, and has completed approximately 5.4 million square feet of exceptional tenant improvements that range from new flooring, paint and built-in cabinets complete with granite countertops, all the way up to intricate corporate headquarters for many house-hold name companies.

Jim’s promise to be the best boss he has always dreamed of is reflected by the brand he has established; in addition to, the employee loyalty at his company.  Dowling Construction is well-known for consistently providing uncommonly clean jobsites, immaculate paperwork, and knowledgeable field workers by utilizing a top-notch three person team assigned to each project. These teams consist of a Project Manager, Project Coordinator and Superintendent, who continuously work together to ensure constant communication with customers. The result is a smooth sailing project; if issues do arise, they are taken care of swiftly with a smile. Furthermore, Gayle remains at his side, running the reins behind the scenes through her incredibly organized and on-top-of-things mentality. (Need a checklist for anything, and I mean anything, Gayle is your girl!) Cynthia Bustamante, who has just hit her 10 year mark, has evolved into Gayle 2.0, and is an essential part of Dowling’s operations as a wearer of multiple hats.

Dowling Construction’s other Project Manager, Glenn Fricke, goes way back with Jim to their PDQ days. In 2004, Glenn and Jim unknowingly shared the same brilliant thought: Glenn should join the JDC team. Two phone calls later, Glenn could be seen wearing green and orange, the token colors of Dowling Construction. The rest is history. During his time at Dowling, Glenn has secured and completed several large projects with well-known San Diego names such as Rady’s Children Hospital and USD.

Our infamous Project Coordinator has been at Dowling for 8 years. Wanda Benedetto can be considered Jim’s left-hand woman. Her friendly demeanor impresses all of our customers, but she’s tough with the boys, allowing her to keep all of her projects on time and on budget. In a few weeks a new Project Coordinator will be added to the Dowling family (stay tuned to find out who our new mystery person is)! In the meantime Gayle has returned to her role as the OG PC (original Project Coordinator) in order to assist Glenn and assure that his projects continue to run smoothly.

Our Field guys and Superintendents are the ones who uphold our image in day to day operations. Over 60% of Field employees and Superintendents have been with Dowling Construction for 5 or more years. We have fathers and sons, brothers and cousins sporting the Dowling logo proudly on their shirts. And it’s easy to see why our employees stay around… who else has a boss cook five types of pasta for the Christmas party hosted at his home? How many companies have a President take the time to give a speech about what makes every single employee an integral part of the team? I’d say slim to none; Jim Dowling is the exception!

The superior treatment our boss exudes to his employees is reflected in the dedication and quality of work our employees put out. Every single person is on a mission, not a job, which results in exceptional service for our customers. The thoroughness of our bids, the cleanliness of our job-sites and our ability to finish a project with a minuscule to zero punch-list all stem from the mentality, work ethic, and vision of the big man himself: Jim Dowling.


Jim Dowling

I treat employees how I would like to be treated and this has created a nice atmosphere of trust, dignity and respect. This is reflected on how we treat our customers.” ―Jim Dowling, Founder & President of Dowling Construction, Inc.

Does this remind you of anyone? Sir Richard Branson perhaps?

“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.” ―Sir Richard Branson


One thought on “Behind the Hard Hat: Dowling Edition

  1. Pingback: Throw Back Thursday: Our First Blog Post | Dowling Construction

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