If you live on our island – especially in Lavallette – you’ve probably heard of the Mattia family, and likely admired their work.
Their multi-generational family business, Mattia Builders, is a Jersey Shore success story, with opportunities in the modern real estate and home-building markets providing a path to expand. Recently, Mattia opened a state-of-the-art office, showroom and in-house garage facility on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River, seeking more room as well as the ability to adapt to changing market conditions, while maintaining their traditional office on Route 35 North in Lavallette.
While it is no secret that real estate values island-wide have risen sharply after a low point after Superstorm Sandy struck the region, it has not always been easy for those whose livelihoods depend on building the homes that are rapidly replacing the bungalows and Cape Cods that have dotted the island for decades. Increasingly complex building codes, demand for more amenities as people spend more time “down the Shore,” and a cantankerous post-Covid supply chain have proven challenging, but reliance on family, experience and decades’ worth of relationships with customers-turned-neighbors have proven invaluable. In recent months, a shaky economy, inflation and rising interest rates have affected businesses everywhere, yet the Jersey Shore market continues to be in demand.
“We’re finding that while the interest rates are higher, the value is still there, especially communities like Lavallette, Ortley Beach and Seaside Park,” said Gina Mattia, who runs the company that was founded in 1971 by her father, Sal Mattia, and a friend. “We’re also finding that families are growing, and those who have been here for a long time are now looking to renovate and accommodate new generations.”
The company has found that the children and grandchildren of some of their first customers are returning for renovations, expansions and new investments as their families grow. Likewise, the Mattia family is continuing its generational expansion, with Olivia Mattia (daughter of Gina and granddaughter of Sal) having joined the business.
“I remember doing my homework after school on that conference table,” Olivia Mattia said, pointing out a meeting room in the business’s new office at 515 Fischer Boulevard in Toms River, just off Route 37.
The new facility is both a luxury and a necessity for the growing enterprise. It allows the company to show off some of the materials that are used in their projects, incorporates new technology, provides more room and – most importantly – has allowed for the storage of frequently-used items and work space for employees to customize products for customers. That has allowed the business to mitigate the challenges presented by quirky supply chains and constructing homes that, in 2023, might also serve as an office or an investment opportunity.
“One of the biggest things we hear is that people want all of the generations of their family to be together,” said Gina Mattia, pointing out that accessibility has become a major aspect of construction. “I have a home that in Lavallette where they have seven children, and it was very important that everyone could have a place to spend time together and enjoy it.”
Once considered a rare luxury, in-home elevators are now routine amenities, especially with modern building codes that require homes to be raised above flood level. Having the new location “over the bridge” in Toms River allows Mattia to be more creative with those amenities, keeping alive the concept of a personal touch on every home they build. In today’s market, a home builder will likely find themselves trying to balance a family’s current lifestyle alongside long-term plans. The rise of platforms like Airbnb and VRBO have rocketed the rental market, but even young couples are thinking ahead toward moving permanently to the area or retiring here. That’s where the personal touch shows its value.
“We can add in owners’ storage closets or other features in rental properties that can later be used for an entirely different purpose,” Mattia said. “We want to help people become invested in the community and members of the community, just like we’re invested in the community.”
“That’s why we love what we do because, you know, you’re part of somebody’s home,” said Olivia Mattia.
Just like their customers’ second homes, the new Fischer Boulevard office had to pay homage to family history. Inside the lobby, hanging on the wall is the business’s original sign from 1971, weathered in such a way that is undoubtedly a sign of a company whose roots were planted a block from the Atlantic Ocean.
“We tried to make it feel like something we would really build,” said Gina Mattia. “The iconic sign, as we like to call it, is here. So we’re moving forward, but we didn’t want anybody to think that we would lose sight of how we got here.”
The new office features a spacious conference room as well as a kitchen and other examples of the company’s work throughout. The fresh, coastal look of the interior is accented by modern recessed lighting and coffered ceilings. The first floor of the building exits into a large storage area, garage bay and workshop.
Functionally, Mattia Builders has invested in more space in order to serve customers and cut down on long lead times that developed during the pandemic and the resulting supply chain issues. Things seem to finally be getting back on track nationally, Mattia said.
“The timelines are a little longer than what we used to see, but are getting better,” she said. “We used to be able to complete a home, with paperwork, in about six months or seven months tops from the time you knock it down. Now we are seeing like a 9 to 11 month turnaround, which is definitely better than a year ago.”
“You order things earlier, you store what you can, and you give enough time for all of the permitting and paperwork,” she added. “There are more steps, and they all take a little longer, but the townships have been wonderful. We’re now able to accommodate more requests from customers.”
As for an industry supply chain update: “Appliances are back on track. Windows are back on track,” Mattia said. “If something has a chip in it, it will take a bit longer, but we’re prepared for that. We factor that in, prepare for the idea that something may change, and work with the customer from day one to set out a schedule.”
As the Mattia family’s business grows and evolves, the spirit of the small construction shop that was founded decades ago on Route 35 in Lavallette continues on with each project the company completes.
“When we build something, we want to make sure we do it in a positive way, and maintain what our towns are all about,” Mattia said.