The third generation of D’Ascanios work in the business
The Polaroid photo from 1959 shows a grainy image of a tiny wooden shack on a Grassy Key beach. There’s one square window, the only visible opening. A scraggly line of young trees sprout in the dirt front yard. That, friends, is the Keys homestead of the D’Ascanio family.
The photo hangs in the conference room in the 25,000-square-foot showroom of D’Asign Source in Marathon, a residential design and construction company. The image serves two purposes — to remind family and employees of the firm’s humble roots, while reminding them to dream big.
“We’re very approachable,” said Franco D’Ascanio. “Yes, we do high-end work, but we also do smaller jobs like kitchen and bath remodels and landscaping jobs that start at $10,000. What we offer is good value for people who want quality.”
It’s a lesson the family learned at the knee of the patriarch; the late Palmerino D’Ascanio. The Italian-born immigrant had an eighth-grade education but a boundless appetite for life.
“Family, fishing, or work,” said Franco D’Ascanio, Jr. “That’s what my grandfather was interested in.”
He started by creating ornamental cement products — tables, planters, etc. His three young boys — Tony, Franco, and Amedeo — lead the lives of beach bums on Grassy Key, scavenging and fishing. But when Palmerino moved the company down the highway to Marathon, the boys set to work.
“It was our job to move the countless little tin buckets of gravel for mixing concrete,” said Amedeo, the youngest of the three boys.
Gradually, Palmerino began transferring the business ownership to the second generation. Tony, Franco, and Amedeo all had a hand in growing the business by adding new elements — flooring sales, audio/visual equipment, interior finishes, etc. Now, Franco handles the firm’s new research and development division (more on that later), Tony specializes in construction, and Amedeo heads the design and engineering division.
One of the most exciting aspects of the family business, Franco said, is the spin-off of Coastal Source, a company that creates saltwater-resistant speakers, lighting, and outdoor systems. The R&D happens in a series of labs adjacent to the showroom, and came to fruition out of D’Asign Source’s needs for resilient equipment for the homes and resorts they were building.
“D’Asign Source and Coastal Source are just two of our business ventures built to defy the elements,” said Franco. “We want to make things last for generations.”
And now the third generation is at work. Franco Jr. is a registered architect and Nicholas a landscape architect, together they handle the architectural/ construction and landscape sides of the business, including a 20-acre coastal-specific plant nursery in West Palm. Felicia works in the Coastal Source offices. Tonya is in the accounting department and Anthony is an estimator at D’Asign Source.
Of course, Palmerino didn’t do it alone. He had the help of a strong woman — Margarita, 84. Right now the matriarch lives with her son Amedeo, but she has every intention of moving into an apartment the family is currently renovating next to the showroom. In fact, it’s the apartment she and Palmerino built and lived in when her sons were just young boys.
“She wants to be near the construction yard, she wants to see the action,” said Amedeo. “I’m sure she’ll make us all fresh Italian bread and cookies, and bring them over to the showroom every day,” said Franco Jr. “Come by and try some!”