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George Walton is president of Alameda Structural, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2008. He can be reached at (510) 371-5956 or by email.

George Walton

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

George Walton: A Structural Inclination

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ALAMEDA — The son of a general contractor, George Walton was basically raised in the construction industry, where, over time, he found himself inclined toward a particular aspect. “I started building houses with my dad when I was 12 years old and I’ve been doing construction ever since,” he recaps. “I was always drawn to structural work in particular. It’s very challenging, which appealed to me, and there’s less paperwork. In 1984, I started my own residential structural repair company. Five years later, in the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, I decided to focus primarily on foundations and seismic retrofitting, and that continues to be my focus today.”

As owner of Alameda Structural, Inc., George says his favorite part of his job is wowing his customers. “We do very difficult projects, but since we have so much experience, we’re able to do them with ease. We’re so good at what we do that people are absolutely amazed at the end product, but for us, it’s just another day at the office.”

A resident of Alameda (where he lives with his wife, Rebecca), George spends his time outside of work relaxing and spending time with his family. “I have six daughters and eight grandchildren,” he details. “My grandsons all play baseball, football and basketball, so if I’m not taking them to a professional sporting event, I’m usually attending one of theirs.” In addition to hanging out with family, George enjoys regular getaway trips to the East Coast. “We spend a week out of every month at our place in Florida. To me, it’s paradise over there and a great place to recharge my batteries.”

In his life and career, George espouses the importance of honesty. “If you aren’t honest with yourself and those around you, things aren’t going to work out well for you,” he cautions. “It’s true what they say, what goes around comes around. I can honestly say I’ve never intentionally deceived any of our clients or vendors, and because of that, I’ve had riches all my life.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: My grandson’s basketball team.

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?
A: I played football and wrestled.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Kincaid’s in Oakland.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
A: Pecan pie.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Orchids.

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The Importance of a Pre-Purchase Soils Report


ALAMEDA — When buying a home in the Berkeley Hills, one important step is having a soils report performed by a geotechnical engineer. Why? Because if the home needs foundation work, you’ll need to know what type of soil it’s sitting on.… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Pre-Purchase Soils Reports

Complete Video Transcription:

ALAMEDA — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re planning to buy a hillside property, one thing you’ll want to invest in is a professional soils report. Today we’re in… Read more

Diana Connolly is office manager at Montclair Construction & Structural, Inc., a Diamond Certified company. She can be reached at (510) 250-2727 or by email.

Diana Connolly

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Diana Connolly: A Renewed Appreciation

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

OAKLAND – Diana Connolly has always enjoyed life in the Bay Area, but her appreciation for the local setting grew even more after a year spent living elsewhere. “I moved away from the Bay Area for a short time, to a little town outside of Placerville called Mount Aukum,” she explains. “It was so small that we didn’t even have mail service—we had to drive to the post office to pick up our mail! It was beautiful but isolated, and the whole time I was there, I couldn’t wait to come back.”

Returning from her hiatus, Diana settled back into her native Oakland, where she soon found employment with a local construction company. “They needed some help in the office, so I started out answering the phone and running errands. Eight years later, I’m the office manager here at Montclair Construction & Structural.” In addition to speaking to clients on the phone, Diana coordinates many of the behind-the-scenes details that are instrumental to the firm’s operational success. “One of my main duties is to maintain production, which means making sure our crews are being utilized efficiently and ensuring a smooth transition from one job to the next.”

Outside of work, Diana enjoys being outside and going on hikes with Henry, her five-pound Chihuahua. Another of her hobbies is food, whether experimenting with recipes in the kitchen or trying out new restaurants around town.

When asked the first thing she’d do if she could retire tomorrow, Diana says she’d take the time to do some traveling. “Lately, I’ve been thinking about going to Asia or Australia, but even just traveling around the United States sounds like fun to me.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite band?
A: The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Q: If you had a theme song, what it would be?
A: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin.

Q: What’s your favorite type of food?
A: Italian.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Thanksgiving, because it’s a time when family gathers together.

Q: If you could immediately master a musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The drums.

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How to Choose a Building Contractor


OAKLAND — When choosing a contractor for your building or remodeling project, two essential aspects to look at are credentials and reputation. By confirming these, you can ensure you’re hiring a contractor that’s legally on the level and has a proven… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Verifying a Contractor’s License

Complete Video Transcription:

OAKLAND — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you're planning to hire a contractor, you'll first want to do your homework. Today we're in Oakland with Diamond Certified Expert… Read more

Russell Calhoon is project manager at Paradigm Concrete & Construction, Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 385-8993 or by email.

Russell Calhoon

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Russell Calhoon: A Firm Foundation

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ANTIOCH — By the time Russell Calhoon started working for a concrete contractor, he already had a firm foundation in the trades. “I’m a third-generation builder,” he explains. “I grew up in construction and worked for my dad from childhood all the way to adulthood. My dad taught me a lot, both on and off the jobsite. He actually taught apprenticeship classes on roof framing and stair framing at a local college, and I often went with him to those. We eventually became partners in a business that held licenses in foundation work, general construction, plumbing, electrical, solar power and sewer work.”

After his father retired, Russell decided to switch gears and transition from hands-on building to management. “I went to work for some high-end general contractors as an estimator, and from there I progressed to project manager and production manager, which gave me a chance to learn the other side of the business,” he says. “During that time, I also went to construction management school and got my license. Later, while in between jobs, I did some subcontracting work for Paradigm Concrete & Construction. I asked the owners if they knew anyone who needed someone with my skills, and they said they did. Ten years later, I’m still here.”

Today, as project manager at Paradigm Concrete & Construction, Inc., Russell says his diverse professional experience continues to benefit him in his day-to-day work. “Having a background in all aspects of construction is really helpful because it enables me to look at each project as a whole. This allows me to properly prepare for each individual phase and prevent problems for subsequent subcontractors on the job.”

A resident of Martinez (where he lives with his partner, Lanakila), Russell spends his time outside of work on a variety of active pastimes. “My main activity outside of work is bocce ball,” he details. “I belong to the Martinez Bocce Federation and I’m a two-time national champion—I won titles in 1996 and 2003. I also enjoy sailing, which I’ve been doing all my life. I got my sailing license when I was nine years old.” Additionally, Russell enjoys going to the movies and spending time with his two adult sons, Alex and Ryan.

In regard to his professional career, Russell espouses the importance of fairness. “I believe a contractor deserves to make money and their client deserves a quality job for a fair price,” he explains. “As a contractor, if you aren’t being fair with your clients, you aren’t going to last in this business. It’s all about maintaining that balance of mutual benefit.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?

A: The Warehouse Cafe in Port Costa. They have awesome prime rib.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?

A: Hang out with Lanakila and watch a movie or play cards.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?

A: Neither—I like being in the moment.

Q: Do you collect anything?

A: I collect Mexican folk art.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

A: Tahiti. My father planned to sail there with me when I was a kid and we never did, but I’m still planning to get there someday.

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Often-Overlooked Aspects of a Concrete Project


ANTIOCH — If you’re planning a concrete project, be sure to consider the following aspects: Minimum cost Most concrete contractors have a minimum charge for concrete work. If you only have one small project in mind, it might not meet that minimum… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Concrete Cleaning Caveat

Complete Video Transcription:

ANTIOCH — Sarah Rutan: When cleaning recently poured concrete, you’ll need to exercise caution to avoid causing accidental damage. Today we’re in Antioch with Diamond Certified Expert Contributor… Read more

Mark Corrallo is president of All Seasons Construction, a Diamond Certified company since 2007. He can be reached at (510) 652-2221 or by email.

Mark Corrallo

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Mark Corrallo: A Seasoned Career

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

OAKLAND — When Mark Corrallo purchased a construction firm in 2007, he didn’t have any hands-on experience in the trades. However, given the tempestuous conditions he’d soon be navigating, the background he did have proved to be a far more valuable asset. “Prior to purchasing All Seasons Construction, I was a business broker, which means I facilitated the buying and selling of businesses,” he explains. “All Seasons Construction was one of the businesses that came across my desk, but after looking at it more closely, I decided to purchase it myself. I didn’t have any experience in the construction industry, but it looked like a good business opportunity, so I decided to take a shot at running my own company.”

In hindsight, Mark’s decision to purchase a construction business couldn’t have been more ill-timed: Within a year, the U.S. would slide into the worst economic recession it had seen since the Great Depression. However, while the downturn left many construction firms floundering in its wake, Mark’s business acumen helped him keep his company not just afloat but swimming forward. “By adapting to the economic conditions, I was able to keep my crews busy throughout the recession,” he says. “Since purchasing All Seasons Construction a decade ago, I’ve managed to triple its revenue, so I’d say things have gone pretty well.”

Today, Mark says his favorite part of his job is receiving positive feedback from his clients. “I like hearing from customers that they had a good experience with my guys. I’m the first person they meet, but once the actual work begins, their experience is mainly with my crew and foremen, so I’m always glad to hear they received the level of service and quality I promised at the beginning.”

A resident of Alamo (where he lives with his wife, Hui Ling, and son, Jaedi), Mark spends his time outside of work engaged in a variety of interests, from classic cars to sports. “I’m a classic car enthusiast, and I have a collection of about a dozen English, Italian, and American models,” he says. “I spend way too much time buying, selling and reading about cars. I also like playing pickup basketball and following the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco Giants.” Additionally, Mark enjoys going to the beach, taking bike rides and skiing at Tahoe with his family.

In regard to a professional philosophy, Mark espouses the importance of providing a high level of quality. “I think most people would rather pay $12 for a great cheeseburger than $8 for a lousy one,” he explains. “By the same token, we provide a very high level of service, but we’re certainly not the cheapest company out there. I’ve kept my crews busy for the past decade not by being the cheapest, but by being very good and taking care of our clients. That formula seems to work well, so I’m sticking with it.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Mark says he’d devote more time and energy toward his automotive avocation. “I would probably be more active with my classic car hobby. In general, I’m less interested in showing my cars than in the horse-trading aspect, so I’d probably be buying and selling more high-value cars.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1971 Ford Mustang Fastback.

Q: What’s your dream car?
A: I’ve owned almost every one of my dream cars. I guess the one that has remained out of reach is the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing. Those are in the seven-figure range and I’m not sure I’ll ever be a seven-figure guy.

Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The guitar. I play a little already, but I’d like to be better at it.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Pistachio nuts.

Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
A: Surfing the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii.

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A Crucial Component of Earthquake Safety


OAKLAND — Due to concerns about earthquake safety, many Bay Area homeowners are taking preemptive action by having their homes retrofitted via measures like foundation bolting and bracing. While retrofitting is a great idea, there’s one caveat: if your home’s foundation… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: A Firm Foundation for Earthquake Safety

Complete Video Transcription:

OAKLAND — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re planning to have your home retrofitted for earthquake safety, don’t overlook the importance of a firm foundation. Today we’re in… Read more