Q&A: ETI President Ivan Tello Talks Service and the ETI Difference

We sat down with ETI President Ivan Tello recently to discuss the ins and outs of contracting in a competitive market and what it takes to stand out as a reputable general contractor in the Chicagoland area.

Tello has spent his entire professional career in construction – a career spanning nearly 15 years. Collectively, ETI’s management team boasts over 60 years of experience and focuses on three main areas of construction: residential design-build, commercial, and multi-family, with multi-family being the company’s core focus.

What does ETI do? Who do you serve? What’s your market area?
We focus the core of our business on multi-family projects, both new construction and major renovations. We provide solutions for investors, property managers, and asset managers within the multi-family market.

Our clients are from Chicago and the Chicagoland area – basically the City and the surrounding counties including Cook, Lake, DuPage, McHenry, Will, and Kane.

What differentiates ETI from other construction companies your size?
Our key differentiator is unmatched personalized attention. Our clients’ projects are managed by the owners of the company, the leaders of the organization. Our leadership is hands-on and we want to be involved in the process from start to finish. From the jump, we make it clear that our clients are working with seasoned professionals. We value transparent communication, 24/7 availability, and we design our schedule around the client’s availability and needs.

Because of our size, we also bring a cost value to the client. Larger contractors have more overhead costs built into their budget – we’re leaner. We utilize a lot of in-house labor and we have fantastic working relationships with the subcontractors that we do use, some of which date back 20+ years. We value long-term relationships with our subs because that familiarity allows us to move projects through our process more efficiently.

What does it take to be a successful construction contractor?
It boils down to key two components: communication and experience. Quality communication is so important for both the client and for our people internally. We use a robust management system, Co-Construct (Insert link to Co-Construct blog post), which has a real-time communication framework.. The clients really appreciate the transparency and our associates have benefitted from it as well.

The experience aspect is also vital to our success. When you have a lot of experience, you can predict the possible issues that might occur on a project before they happen. In today’s world, clients want to be able to enjoy the project as it progresses, they do not want to be stressed out about minute details that the GC should be resolving. We want our clients to have a fun and enjoyable time working with us, and our experience is what allows us to deliver that.

What does your ideal construction project look like and why?
We love multi-family projects, especially those where the scope of work includes any core mechanical updates or a complete gut renovation. We’ve done a variety of multi-family projects, from a 3-unit multi-building renovation to a 100+ unit renovation on a single property. Through our experience, we’ve built a reputation in delivering multi-family projects for our clients.

Why is multi-family construction a sweet spot for ETI?
It’s like putting a puzzle together. We love the space, we’re good at it, and we have the experience to excel at it.

What do you hope customers have to say about you after you’ve completed their project?
That we’re proactive in our work and that we took what can often be a complicated, painful process and made that process smoother, easier, and effortless – making the client’s life easier.