The Guido family during the construction of The DoSeum in 2015.
The Guido family during the construction of The DoSeum in 2015. Credit: Courtesy / Guido Construction

Few construction companies’ project portfolios start with recorded Texas historic landmarks dating to 1927 and continue uninterrupted to include some of the city’s most beloved institutions and newly broken ground in many parts of San Antonio.

But the Guido family began building in Texas when Louis Guido Sr. and Vincent Fablo constructed the historic San Francesco di Paola Church and Parish Hall in downtown San Antonio. Trained in Italy as a master carpenter, Louis’ reputation grew with projects like the San Pedro Playhouse and the restoration of Mission San José.

In 1936, Louis and his brother Frank formed Guido Brothers Construction Company. Their work included everything from restorations and remodeling to the building of numerous public buildings, courthouses, schools and churches, as well as the Missouri Pacific Railroad from Austin to Laredo.

Last month, Louis’ descendants, two generations of the Guido family, marked the company’s 90th birthday by ceremoniously shoveling dirt on its 12-acre campus on San Antonio’s Northside and releasing renderings of the new corporate headquarters, now under construction. The new offices will replace buildings constructed in the 1960s, plus a myriad of temporary buildings that have been accommodating the company’s growth, and connect to a 6,500-sq. ft. building materials showroom.

Meanwhile, the family – Tom and Maryanne and three of their four adult children – plus the 175 employees at Guido Construction, keep trucking on a long list of projects that extends beyond San Antonio. You can find Guido signs and workers currently at the San Antonio Zoo, the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Freeman Coliseum, Brooks Greenline Park, and schools in every direction.

Recently completed projects include more schools, the DoSeum, Altstadt Brewery, Toyota Field, River Walk Phase V, SeaWorld, the Pearl Brew House, and more. Guido is projected to close out this year with $120 million in combined revenues and a forecasted $160 million in 2018.

Families wait outside for the DoSeum to open.
Families wait outside for the DoSeum to open. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Several years ago, Guido restored the fire-damaged Sacred Heart Conventual Chapel at Our Lady of the Lake University and completed restorations on some of the historic Spanish-colonial Missions, even the Alamo. The company won awards for its work at the Shops at Rivercenter, a seven-year project, due to its complexity.

Coming soon are Guido-led projects to build a new BASIS Charter School in the Shavano Park neighborhood and new fine arts and JROTC buildings at North East ISD’s Reagan High School. This fall, Guido will help ChildSafe break ground on its new Salado Creek campus.

“We are honored to be involved in that project. It’s going to be a showplace for healing, giving hope to victims of neglect and abuse, and putting those children back together,” CEO Maryanne said. “Our people are asking us, ‘Can I please help build that?’ because the mission is so cool.”

There’s a real passion for the kind of buildings they do, she added, especially since there’s such a variety – not just schools or strip malls, but a range of construction projects and renovations, including historic ones.

“The people who work here are sophisticated and appreciate great architecture and design,” Maryanne said. “They’re building really special projects, even houses for the ‘Who’s Who’ of Texas – very prominent families and private projects that are exciting to build.”

Maryanne joined the family business after a career as an actuarial analyst at USAA. She was named CEO in 1995. “It was a challenge when I first got here. I had a degree in math, and I was coming from the East Coast and used to being in business. This was not a woman-friendly environment when I came,” she said.

“But it’s changed a lot. There are women project managers, women laborers and carpenters. You’re depleting half of your workforce resources if you don’t realize women have a lot to offer. So we changed all that, and my husband is very forward-thinking. He likes to build and estimate. I build the business. We’ve been a good team.”

Her husband Tom, whose father Cosmo started Guido Lumber and pioneered several engineering distribution methods, is president of Guido Construction. Over the years, he bought out his uncle and brothers for ownership of the business. Tom and Maryanne co-own Guido Properties. Their son, Cosmo, is now a senior project manager, and daughter Lauren Guido Tew is the company’s director of marketing.

“Our children were educated and went to different universities and worked for other places first,” Maryanne said. “We told them, ‘You can’t work here, go make your way and if you come back, come back with something the company wants to buy.’ They took that to heart and started coming back in 2008.”

The Guido family during the groundbreaking of the Guido Construction Headquarters on San Antonio’s Northside. Credit: Courtesy / Guido Construction

Another son, Christopher, entered the business seven years ago after working at a private equity firm in Dallas, and was named president of Guido Building Materials in 2013. That segment of the business has doubled in size in only two years, he said. When complete, the new showroom will be the only premier building materials space like it within 200 miles.

Like many builders and other companies, Guido scaled back during the economic downturn that began in 2008, but continued to pursue new projects and retain as much talent as possible.

“We gutted through no matter the challenges and just never ever quit,” Maryanne said. “Some people say you have to be crazy to be in this business, and that’s why my husband says he doesn’t like to gamble. We gamble every day, like when we’re working with subcontractors who don’t perform or pay their bills … These are complicated issues that have to be managed all the time.”

It’s been estimated that half of all construction workers in the state, as many as 400,000, are undocumented. While federal immigration reform continues to challenge the industry, Guido sticks to the rules.

“For us, everybody has to be documented, and we validate all that and do background checks. We have to because we are working on occupied school campuses, so it’s the law,” Maryanne said. “But it’s problematic. It would be a lot better for business if it was all worked out because you do need people to do these jobs. We’ve brought in people [from other countries], and if they have the proper documentation, we have been able to give them a whole new life.”

Last year, Guido was named to Build Magazine’s “Construction Top 50,” the only Texas firm to make the nationwide list. Yet perhaps San Antonio is the real winner. As Guido went about shaping the city for 90 years, as well as preserving it, the family members have also invested themselves in reshaping their hometown.

“We do a lot of community service,” Maryanne said. “We were very active in the [2017 City] bond campaign and Alamo Community Colleges [bond program] to help raise money. We sit on several boards, including the University of Incarnate Word, the Opera and Zoo, helping to raise money for things we think are important for the city. Our daughter and son do a lot of volunteer work. Chris helps with Rehabarama, Wounded Warriors Project, and Habitat for Humanity.”

But even as Maryanne and Tom talk of sunsetting their day-to-day roles at Guido “in the next five to 10 years,” they also see growth on the horizon as the company enters its 10th decade – field offices, new markets and, yes, more historic restoration.

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...