2004 Builder/contractor of the year: Zaino Tennis Courts
What does a reputation for honesty, quality work, and customer service get you? If you’re a court builder, it gets you a lot of business, and in particular a lot of repeat business. And if you’re Richard Zaino, along with his company Zaino Tennis Courts Inc. of Orange, Calif., it gets you RSI’s Builder/Contractor of the Year award.
“I’ve wanted to bring the highest quality,” says Zaino, “so, with trained employees, we’ve gotten one of the best reputations for quality. The bottom line is that when we go out there to do a job, I want it to be the best job that anyone can ever do.”
Zaino’s projects have garnered rave reviews. “He does beautiful work,” says Carol Shaner of the U.S. Tennis Court & Track Builders Association. “He’s built some really fabulous courts.”
“Most people want the best quality, with the best expertise,” says Gary Lindstrom, the western states regional manager for Plexipave. “And that’s what Richard offers everybody. And because of that word of mouth, he gets just the best places.”
Zaino says his company’s jobs range from exclusive private courts to municipalities to school and college facilities. Tennis courts make up the majority of his company’s work, but they also surface playgrounds, basketball courts and running tracks. “We’ve been really fortunate in Southern California to build and surface courts at some incredible private estates,” he says. “They’re really custom courts.” A number of them have won industry awards over the years. In the early 1990s, Zaino Tennis, which is also licensed in Nevada, built both a cushioned hard court and a clay court for Michael Chang. The company also surfaced a court at the home of Andre Agassi’s father in 1995. A few years ago, Zaino surfaced a court for Pete Sampras in Beverly Hills. Another project they’ve had every year since 1999 is resurfacing the courts at UCLA prior to the Mercedes-Benz Cup tournament. “We’ve done almost every type of construction in tennis courts — natural grass, synthetics, clay, Har-Tru. But our primary work is in hard courts,” says Zaino.
A former architecture major in college, who played tennis growing up and continues to play avidly, Zaino cut his court-building teeth with Pacific Tennis Courts in Santa Monica, Calif., in the late 1970s. “I started right at the bottom, doing all the gopher work,” Zaino says. “A man named Bill Lepper trained me and taught me the business.”
Zaino started his own company in 1985 and was the sole employee. Shortly after he started, Abel Sahagun, whom Zaino knew at Pacific Tennis, joined him and is still with the company. Now, there are 20 full-time employees. “I’ve been fortunate to have some great workers, who are really skilled, working for us for a pretty long time,” Zaino says. “Each foreman has at least seven or eight years of experience. And because we can work year-round here, I can keep a pretty steady, trained workforce.”
Zaino has been a member of the USTC&TBA since 1989 and has served on that organization’s board of directors and as secretary. He also has done some technical sessions on court construction and resurfacing for the USTC&TBA’s annual meeting.
It’s Zaino’s knowledge of the business and sterling reputation that keep his customers happy, and his suppliers raving.
“He’s a standup guy,” says Randy Futty of Lee Tennis. “He’s the kind of guy you want to do business with.”
Adds Plexipave’s Lindstrom: “Richard is by far the most knowledgeable, honest, efficient contractors that I would ever have the opportunity to know. When you have a contractor who’s employees have been with him 15-16 years, then they know what they’re doing.”
Zaino’s Tips for Success
- Provide the best in customer service.
- Back up your products and service by following up on the work.
- If the customer has a problem, don’t fool around — go back and correct it.
- Properly trained employees ensure you maintain the best reputation for quality.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.