Deep Roots in the Local Community: Diani Companies Celebrates 70 Years in Santa Maria
Diani Companies is a family owned business with a rich history in Santa Maria. Celebrating 70 and counting in the community, the local business continues its tradition of building construction encompassing military, public works and commercial building projects that have had a major impact in the Santa Maria Valley community and beyond.
Their story begins in the 1920’s when Lorenzo and Mary Diani, with their two children, Americo and Madeline, moved their family to the Santa Maria Valley to operate a dairy in partnership with Union Sugar Company, and lived in the town of Betteravia. Americo, also known as A.J, was a Navy Seabee in the Pacific theater during World War II and formally started A.J. Diani Construction Company in 1949 after coming back home after the War.
Today, A.J’s legacy includes three second generation principals, Jim and Mike Diani and brother-in-law Don Ward, with four third generation family members: Jason Diani (Jim), Nick Diani (Mike), Justin and Jeff Ward.
Originally, Diani Companies was engaged in grading, paving and road construction. With the second generation joining the company they expanded capabilities by creating a Building Division and eventually an Environmental Remediation and Restoration Division.
In 2005, the company reorganized to split into a family of corporations know today as the Diani Companies. They retained A.J. Diani Construction Co., Inc. and in addition created Diani Building Corp. and Central Coast Remedial Resources, Inc. A year later the family sold its highway and civil construction division to a national heavy civil contractor. Today A. J. Diani Construction Co., Inc. continues to perform oil field remediation and restoration work and statewide fire debris and recovery services.
Central Coast Remedial Resources, Inc. operates the City of Santa Maria’s Non-Hazardous Hydrocarbon Impacted Soil (NHIS) program at the Santa Maria Regional Landfill. Diani Companies has an impressive list of major project accomplishments that stretch beyond the Santa Maria Valley, including the construction of the Hearst Castle Visitor Center, a phased 12-year renovation of the Santa Barbara Bowl, the Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall in Santa Maria, the San Luis Obispo Juvenile Hall Project, and the construction/remodel of the new Santa Maria Police Station.
Diani Companies has also been involved in a number of military and Department of Defense construction projects. In addition to their long history of projects at Vandenberg Air Force Base, they have also done work in Florida, Alaska, New Mexico and the Kwajalein Islands.
At Vandenberg AFB the company design-built the first U.S. privately owned launch complex (SLC-8) for Spaceport Systems International and was awarded the “Golden Trowel” at the World of Concrete for the construction of the flattest and most level floor slab placed in that year for the construction of the Horizontal Integration Facility at SLC-6.
Diani Companies was also responsible for the renovation of NASA’s 70-meter antenna operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Officially known as Deep Space Station 14 it is informally known as the Mars Antenna after receiving the first signal from Mariner 4’s mission to Mars in 1966. Due to the complexity of the project it was filmed by National Geographic and featured on NatGeo’s “World’s Toughest Fixes”.
Today, Diani Companies continues its impressive track record and remains busier than ever serving the Santa Maria Valley and beyond. Current projects include a multi-year remodel and renovation of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the renovation of the City of Santa Barbara’s historical Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center and Bathhouse.
Diani is currently completing the campus for the National Search Dog Foundation’s, National Training Center (NTC) in Santa Paula which is the first facility of its kind in the nation solely dedicated to the training of Canine Disaster Teams.
They are also a team member with MSB Investors to construct Santa Barbara County’ Tajiguas Landfill Resource Recovery Project. This comprehensive solid waste project includes a Material Recovery Facility, Anaerobic Digester Facility, and a related composting facility. The Project will process 250,000 tons of mixed solid waste, 40,000 tons of commingled source separated recyclables, and 74,000 tons of organic waste annually and is designed to divert more than 60% of the mixed solid waste currently being landfilled while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of removing 24,000 cars from our highways.
Over the years, the Diani family has remained invested in their local community. They have donated to a number of local charities and projects over the years, and their family is the only family to have three generations hold the office of Chairman of the Board for the Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce: A.J. in 1964, Jim in 1984 and Jason in 2010.
Jim Diani says it is their deep roots in Santa Maria Valley and the people in this community that have directly contributed to their family businesses’ success and longevity.
“Our family’s history in the Santa Maria Valley has allowed us to develop the profound relationships, with both family and friends, that help us stay grounded and accountable to maintain a balanced perspective in life,” Diani explained. “We appreciate more and more our community roots and invested heritage in the Valley as today’s culture seemingly makes it harder and harder to create and maintain such meaningful and gratifying legacies.”