Robert Devengenzo: Full Circle
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
LAFAYETTE — After getting an early education in the construction field, Robert Devengenzo decided to switch gears and start a gardening business. However, as his business grew, he found himself incorporating more and more of his previous experience…until he eventually came full circle. “My dad built two or three of his own homes during his lifetime, and from the time I was 10 years old, he had me working alongside him,” he remembers. “After high school, I got into landscaping and ended up starting a gardening business with my wife, Marilyn. During the next few years, I acquired my landscape contractor’s license and brought on a few employees. It continued to grow from there—the more experience I had, the bigger the jobs became. It wasn’t long before I branched out from gardening and landscaping to doing drainage systems and general construction.”
Today, as owner of Devengenzo Landscaping and Engineering Inc., Robert continues to maintain a hands-on involvement with his company’s operations. “I enjoy meeting new clients, doing estimates and presenting our company to them. I also like to be out in the field, running crews and overseeing things. After all these years, those are still the aspects of the job I enjoy the most.”
Robert resides in Walnut Creek, which he considers an ideal location for someone in his line of work. “Between the affluent economy and the prevalence of older homes, there’s plenty of demand for our services in Contra Costa County. A lot of our work comes from homeowners who buy older homes and don’t know they have drainage issues. Also, with all the hills around here, there are a lot of challenges, which keeps things interesting.”
Outside of work, Robert enjoys spending time with his large family. “Marilyn and I have five kids, several of whom have worked for our business,” he says. “My oldest son worked for me for 12 years and is now a general engineering contractor, and my youngest is currently our lead carpenter. We also have 14 grandkids, ranging from age three to 25. Basically, there’s never a dull moment!”
In his life and career, Robert believes in doing things a certain way: the right way. “The main thing I believe, and the thing I impart to my employees, is if you’re going to do something, you have to do it right or not at all,” he affirms. “Other than my kids, I’ve had three guys who’ve worked for me in the past, and I schooled them well enough that they could get their licenses and be successful on their own. I take a lot of pride in that.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Robert says he’d transition to a more rural mode of life. “Marilyn and I did farming for about 14 years and enjoyed it very much, so I’d love to get back to doing that. We’d also like to do some more traveling—it’s been a long time since we’ve been out of the country.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Italy, because that’s where my family heritage is based.
Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: I have two: Il Fornaio and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, both of which are in Walnut Creek.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Christmas. In addition to my wife’s baking, I look forward to all the kids and grandkids coming over.
Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The past. I love history, and I’ve always wanted to live in the Old West.
Q: Who’s your favorite movie cowboy?
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A: Clint Eastwood.