Ugo Melchiori, founder of the ubiquitous Santa Barbara construction company that bears his name and a longtime local philanthropist, died Saturday. He was 69, and friends said he had been in ill health.
Born in Italy, Melchiori came to the United States in 1959, and quickly became involved in the construction industry. He worked for D’Alfonso & Sons and then co-founded G&M Builders.
After his partner retired in 1988, he created Melchiori Construction Co., which has been involved in dozens of high-profile projects on the South Coast.
Mario Borgatello, a close friend, said Melchiori came to the United States with nothing — and didn’t expect to receive anything for nothing.
“All Ugo really knew was hard work,” he said. “I have the highest regards for him because of his work ethic, honesty and integrity.”
The Borgatello family, owners of MarBorg Industries, had a business and personal relationship with Melchiori but kept the two separate. Melchiori’s company built the MarBorg Construction & Demolition Recycling Facility, 119 N. Quarantina St., and the two families went on cruises and spent several holidays together.
They met decades ago, when Melchiori was into fast cars and drag racing, said Borgatello, MarBorg’s president.
“The only thing I beat him at was one drag race,” he told Noozhawk. “He lost a six-pack of beer to me. He was more of a drag racer than I was and talked me into it.”
In business, Melchiori’s honesty was legendary. He never went back on his word, said Borgatello’s son, David, MarBorg’s vice president.
Over the years, Melchiori Construction has completed many major projects in the community, and Ugo’s son, Mark, has been president since the 1990s. Melchiori remained at the company as board chairman and head of field operations.
The company portfolio includes commercial, hospitality, institutional, medical and residential buildings, as well as seismic rehabilitation work. Among its clients are the Braille Institute of America, Canary Hotel, Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, Chapala One, Chase Palm Park Carousel Building, Crane Country Day School, Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort Hotel, Fidelity National Title, Four Seasons Biltmore Resort, Garden Court on De la Vina, La Casa de La Raza, Maravilla Senior Living, Marymount of Santa Barbara, QAD Inc., St. Vincent’s Gardens Family Housing, Sansum Medical Research Foundation, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Mission and Westmont College, as well as renovating The Granada.
According to the Melchiori Construction Web site, the company has grown to a multimillion-dollar operation, and includes consulting services and project management.
Melchiori also holds a patent for a weep screed — perforated galvanized steel pieces that are applied to the bottom of buildings’ exterior walls. They’re used to eliminate trapped moisture when using stucco or other siding materials.
“He’s a proud man and rightfully so,” Mario Borgatello said.
Melchiori wanted to help others succeed, shown by his numerous philanthropic contributions over the years, friends said. He’s contributed to scholarship foundations, local schools and organizations, and even election campaigns.
He always said he was proud to be an Italian but an American by choice, David Borgatello said.
“This community lost one of the good ones,” Mario Borgatello said.
Melchiori struggled with heart problems and then cancer in recent years, friends said.
He is survived by his wife, Linda; two children, Mark and Linda; and several grandchildren. Funeral arrangements and services are pending.