Unique offerings and skills drives Texas builder to success
Photography by Raul Mendoza
Along with his family and crew, Miguel Mercado has carefully developed the Dorian Construction Group into the pre-eminent outdoor living design construction company in El Paso, Texas. Primarily, the company handles pool construction, pool refurbishment and transformation, outdoor kitchens, fire pits and ponds.
“I started out more than 25 years ago as an aquarium hobbyist,” Mercado says. “Back then, my full-time job was in radiology, but I found a profitable sideline servicing aquariums. I later learned carpentry and started building canopies and pedestals. This led to leasing aquariums successfully and I decided it was time to leave radiology altogether.”
After building a solid reputation with aquariums, Mercado was introduced to a company that built hand-carved concrete waterfalls in three to four hours. “I got right in the thick of things and learned how to construct these waterfalls, and offered it as one of my services,” Mercado says. Seeking to take his craft to a higher level, Mercado sought mentorship from Jim Jenkins, a pioneer with hand-carved waterfalls. “Jim took things to a whole new level with the realism in his carving and he applied this technique to pools,” Mercado says. “When I got back home, I built my first Laguna pool, which got written up in the local paper, [as well as] a paper in Juarez, Mexico. That led to working on exhibits at the El Paso Zoo, and waterfalls for area casinos.”
In the beginning, Mercado didn’t have much competition in what he was doing, which posed a challenge. “People were hesitant at first because this was so new to them,” Mercado says. “So I invited builders, contractors and interior decorators to my showroom. These folks opened lots of gates for us. Once the media attention occurred in local newspapers, USA Today and DuPont Registry, it didn’t take long for folks to seek us out directly.”
Mercado says he’d like to open a location in Mexico because of the increasing volume of work they do there. “We’ve also begun slicing into the pie with work at resorts and casinos in Roswell and Albuquerque, New Mexico,” he says. “We’re doing a gigantic 60-by-80-foot pool project at a resort with waterfalls and Jacuzzis. Inside we’re doing bubble walls with aquariums. I’m all for growth and getting bigger, just not letting things get so big that we can’t properly service our clients.”
Words of Wisdom Mercado’s passion for what he builds is summed up in his business philosophy. “What we build is not a necessity; it’s a luxury,” he says. “You’ve got to hit it out of the park every time with as much enthusiasm for the smaller projects as you’d have for the huge, multifaceted water-feature project. You’ve really got to outdo yourself each time.”