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An Old Word

How an Italian immigrant and his wife started a specialty plastering company. By John Wyatt

How an Italian immigrant and his wife started a specialty plastering company. By John Wyatt

Texas-based RONPARCO is a subcontractor that performs cement/lime/gypsum plastering, EIFS, adhered thin stone and thin brick veneers. Obviously, these assemblies include WRBs.

In combination with these scopes of work, the company, based in Euless, Texas, also installs necessary flashings and joint sealants. For suspended plaster soffits, RONPARCO does the CRC framing in-house. It also performs abrasive blasting of concrete substrates before cladding installation. Smaller CMU and real brick installations are a part of its services as well.

The company is very strong in performing gypsum plaster assemblies, both modern and historical. Currently, the company has 30 employees.

“My wife and I started RONPARCO shortly after our move to the U.S. in 1996,” says Flavio Ronzani, celebrating his 26 years in the States.

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Across the Pond

Ronzani explains that his father was involved in the production of acrylic finishes and EIFS. He acquired a manufacturing license from Dryvit in Europe.

“Consequently, I was confronted with plastering and construction in general early in my life, and later on, the obvious job during school vacations was to work in the factory and sometimes with one of his clients in the field,” he says. “After graduation from university, I was to join the family business. I attended technical courses that taught me about building physics, more specific knowledge of chemistry and other specific construction-related topics.”

“I personally love to get involved in uncommon, ‘tricky’ plastering challenges,” Ronzani says.

He then spent 13 years working in the family business, first in sales and later in the upper management as executive vice president.

“After leaving the company, I started my own business as a business consultant specializing in start-up planning and coaching as well as interim management—primarily for companies in the construction industry,” he says. “One of my mandates was to manage the rather big plastering company after the former client of mine suddenly passed away. I was to ‘keep the company going’ and work on finding a capable GM. That taught me a lot about the challenges of a specialty contractor.”

In regards to the company’s growth since it began, Ronzani says, “There was a lot of construction going on in the DFW area when we moved to the U.S. We were able to start and grow into a more or less steady market—except the economic downturn in about 2008.

“However, we grew to a company with around 170 men in the field. That was a lot of work and a lot of responsibility,” he says. “A few years ago, we decided to focus on our core competency and gradually shrunk the size of the company. We can now enjoy our personal life much more and have much more time for ourselves.”

building facade

A Good Balance

As of press time, Ronzani says that business is “just right.” He says the market is a very competitive environment and focusing on what the company is strong at (quality and customer service) allows them a consistent, streamlined flow of work.

“There is fierce competition in certain market segments although there is so much volume,” he says. “The overall quality of finished work, in my opinion, has dropped considerably, probably due to the large amount of piecework being performed.”

He says the company is in a good position, as it targets segments that are less competitive because professional competence is more important.

When asked what the most interesting part of the job is, Ronzani says he loves the challenge. The developments in the exterior cladding industry in the last decade are astonishing, according to him. “You have to constantly educate yourself and your team in order not to fall behind. I always loved to learn and further my knowledge.

“Another important part of my work is to meet and interact with other people—I have met so many wonderful and knowledgeable people in my professional life. Luckily, I can be part of a very dynamic industry,” he says.

The hardest aspect of the job for him is an enormous lack of qualified workforce with real knowledge of the trade. He says training and education of the workforce only happens in a few, dedicated companies in the region. The trades can be so very rewarding—not only financially but also intellectually.

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“Unfortunately, it is not an art anymore,” he laments. “There is a big disconnect between the incredibly sophisticated products that are available based on 21st century technology and a not enough educated workforce that cannot understand what is requested from them in order to make the systems really successful.”

In regards to long-term goals, Ronzani wants RONPARCO to stay flexible and open enough to be able to adapt to market changes.

“I want to be able to continue helping to make our trade known as a great career full of opportunities for young people by getting involved in projects that focus on workforce development,” he says.

The contractor says he’s most impressed with liquid-applied WRB systems.

“[They are] really a very big step forward for all exterior cladding assemblies,” he says. “Drainage mats are another great innovation under stucco assemblies in our fight against water intrusions.

“Last but not least, I am impressed with the innovative, great-looking and great-performing ‘designer’ EIFS finishes that combine the need for CI with so many possible appearances (i.e. wood),” he says.

“Our main focus is on the quality of our work,” says Ronzani. “We promote new products or systems to our clients. Our workforce are longtime employees with almost no turnover whom we constantly train for better or new applications and safety. I especially cherish longtime, personal business relationships that are based on mutual generosity in problem solving.

“I have to say that I am happy that I was able to build a company around what I love to do and am proud of,” he says. “It was quite a ride for me from zero, as an immigrant, to become an accepted player in a very tightknit industry.”

Project Notes

Project: Highland Park Town Hall and Library, Dallas
Architect: RPGA Design Group, Ft. Worth, Texas
General Contractor: Lee Lewis Construction, Dallas
Manufacturers: QUIKRETE Cos., Finestone

One of those challenging projects that allowed RONPARCO to use knowledge, experience and industry contacts in developing a strategy for a successful project.

The project was the addition and renovation of the Highland Park Town Hall and Library. Part of the project was plastering new CMU walls but the majority was the removal and reinstallation of a stucco cladding over existing walls. Also, the interior gypsum plaster was to be repaired and partially replaced. Before starting the renovation, it was realized that the structure of the library wing was old clay brick walls.

Installing a metal lath over this structure would not only have led to a big failure but was also technically and historically unacceptable.

“Cement plaster over clay brick structures is very common in Europe,” explains Ronzani. “(Together with Michael Griffin, now of Demand Products), we developed a similar stucco assembly that we presented to the GC and the architect. We were able to convince the architect of our protocol.”

Control joints could not be installed in order to keep the historic look of the stucco.

“We sprayed on a thick first coat of a QUIKRETE pumpable basecoat. This coat had to cure for 10 days. After 10 days, a brown coat with the same material was sprayed over the cured first coat. The finish consisted of an acrylic finish,” he concludes.

Images courtesy of RONPARCO.

January 2023 | Volume 86 | Issue 1

The Voice of the Industry since 1938

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