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Built 150 Parks : Moulder Bros. Puts Effort on Outdoors

November 06, 1988|EVELYN De WOLFE | Times Staff Writer

At 81, John Moulder is shifting to a more relaxed pace as president of Moulder Bros., the Glendale-based site-development and general engineering firm he has guided for more than half a century.

But the energetic octogenarian is definitely not talking retirement.

"Not just yet, perhaps in a year or two," he said with a smile.

Such diverse locations as Dodger Stadium and the Music Center in Los Angeles; Sea World in Orlando, Fla.; the San Onofre nuclear plant in San Diego County, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu have all felt the professional mark of Moulder Bros.

The firm is primarily identified with parks, golf courses, sports centers, street improvements, marine and water projects and reclamation plants. Special projects also include Security Pacific Plaza in downtown Los Angeles, the Heritage Regional Park in Santa Fe Springs, Centennial Regional Park in Santa Ana and the intricate Japanese Gardens at Cal State Long Beach .

Like a proud father, Moulder insisted on introducing the team he has been carefully grooming to carry on the Moulder Bros. tradition.

"The continuity of good people working as a team is the heart of any successful business," he noted.

Project managers Tony Bagheri and Michael Sabzerou, both Iranian-born and American-educated with degrees in civil engineering; Bill Johnson, chief estimator; Tom Hamilton, controller, and Jose Aldrete, the general superintendent who has been with the firm for 25 years, form Moulder's key management cadre.

The firm, founded in 1936 by John Moulder and the late Paul Moulder, started out with the brothers providing a door-to-door landscape gardening service in their Glendale neighborhood. The first big break came when Gregg's Artistic Homes, a local contractor, hired Moulder Bros. to landscape a dozen homes under construction.

Turned to Commercial Jobs

During World War II, John served in the Navy, while Paul operated a small retail nursery until the brothers were able to resume their work together. Their next step was landscape contracting, and by the mid-1950s, the firm's main thrust had turned to commercial landscape construction.

In the late 1960s, Moulder Bros. added major-site development to its contracts, and in the 1980s, became established as a general engineering contractor. The versatile firm, which has completed contracts totaling more than $300 million, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Earthmark Industries Inc., headed by Duane Bartlett.

At Montrose Park, a peaceful retreat not far from his Glendale home, Moulder expressed pride and joy in seeing public parks like this--one of 150 built by his firm--being enjoyed by children and their families.

"I come here often just to watch people having a good time. We do not initiate projects or design them, but somewhere down the line someone has to make them happen--to bring them to life, and that's what we do best," he said.

Sound Business Practices

When Moulder's young management team takes over, it will inherit not only a 50-year tradition of professional know-how but one of the more technically advanced operations of its kind.

Moulder believes that sound business practices preclude being a low bidder if you can't complete the job on time or fail to make at least a modest profit. "Our firm has refined the bidding process into something approaching an art form. And, like in show biz, come hell or high water, we've got to perform on schedule. Most of the time, we do," he said.

Not surprisingly--the soft-spoken, disciplined John Moulder consults his watch frequently, making sure the visitor's own schedule is on track, between site inspections with job superintendent Xavier Oropeza, along Maryland and Central avenues and at Montrose and Lower Scholl parks, all projects in various stages of development for the city of Glendale.

Moulder Bros. has won many awards over the years. The most prestigious, said its president, is the national Judges Award of the American Assn. of Nurserymen, only rarely given, for the exterior landscape construction work done by the firm on the J. Paul Getty Museum.

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