In 2007 former Alaska commercial fisherman Andrew Mazzella made two decisions that proved life changing.

The first decision was courageous: Starting a construction business on the eve of the Great Recession.

The second one proved providential. It’s a decision that guided the Bozeman, Mont. contractor safely through one of home building’s darkest periods to a place today he once only dreamt about.

“I basically started with nothing. I arrived in Bozeman from Alaska at 18 to attend Montana State University. Two years later (2007), I decided to start my own company and build my own house,” Mazzella recalls.

Difference Maker

The budding contractor went online and spent “… months and months researching construction methods.” One link led him to something called ICF (insulated concrete form), a highly evolved structural system that uses Lego-like foam blocks to create cast-in-place steel-reinforced concrete wall. Intrigued, he took a deep dive into ICF, watching hours of YouTube videos and researching every technical and assembly detail he could find. “To me, going with ICF was a no-brainer,” says Mazzella.

Little did he know going all-in on ICF “… would propel me to where I’m at today.”

Thanks to ICF

Mazzella Construction is now an established, go-to home building name throughout the Bozeman area. That is particularly true for an area about an hour’s drive south of town called Big Sky Resort. Less a resort and more a world unto itself, the vast, sprawling ski area includes posh year-round communities as well as ultra-exclusive, resorts-within-a-resort, like the Yellowstone Club (members include Bill Gates, Tom Brady, Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, among others).

“Big Sky entry-level homes start at $5 million. You can’t touch a home in the Yellowstone Club for less than $20 million,” Mazzella reports. It’s here Mazzella is transitioning from an ICF contractor to luxury home property developer, with two $5 million homesites now in development. “I always wanted to be a developer. When I started out, I didn’t know how I would get there. I didn’t have money, contacts or a reputation. Now I’m in a position to develop my own properties,” he says.

For that, he credits ICF.

Needed: Competitors

“ICF separates me from the pack,” Mazzella explains. “It’s a huge differentiator. When the recession hit, I stayed busy with several ICF projects.” Even today Mazzella has the ICF market cornered. It’s a fact that both puzzles and disappoints the contractor-turned-luxury home developer.

“For years I was the only ICF installer in the state. I’ve trained a few contractors to ICF for foundation work. Yet, for some reason, I don’t have much competition. I’d certainly welcome it. In fact, I’d give them a steady stream of leads to work with.”

What advice does Mazzella have for professionals looking to expand into ICF construction?

  1. Anyone can learn to install ICF. Mazzella is self-taught, for example.
  2. Head to the Internet and scour trade publications. “There are a lot of write-up and vids from builders to learn from,” he offers.
  3. Talk with ICF foam block manufacturers and check out Build with Strength, an informative website representing a coalition of concrete construction manufacturers.

“I can say with 100% certainty that the sky is the limit with ICF.”

Learn more about building with ICF can differentiate your business with an increasingly popular construction method.