Dennis DeGrazia

Always listen to your inner self. Question everything and challenge yourself.


Dennis DeGrazia is a real estate developer who graduated from UMASS Dartmouth and still resides in Massachusetts.

Since 2012, Dennis DeGrazia has been with and is now the President of Community Energy Services that works as the contract manager for lighting and energy upgrades to affordable housing facilities throughout Massachusetts. Community Energy Services works in partnership with ABCD, Action for Boston Community Development and LEAN, Low-Income Energy Affordability Network. Prior to this, Dennis was the CEO of Standen Contracting CO., Inc where he completed close to $1 Billion in construction revenue during his tenure.

Dennis DeGrazia is also owner of Clean Energy Service, LLC which develops, owns and operates commercial grade solar power systems for use in commercial buildings. They are focused on developing solar farm systems and rooftop units for commercial and industrial applications throughout New England.

Dennis DeGrazia has substantial experience constructing schools, libraries, and gated communities, as a builder. As a developer, he is currently involved with redeveloping 33-acre industrial parcel into 130 single family homes over the next three to four years.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

It’s just always been a part of who I am. I like to work, always have. If you are able to, why not work for yourself? Everything you do is for your benefit versus someone else’s, even if it is only a small piece of it.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

It starts at the gym, early in the morning for an hour or so. Then in the office checking emails or reports or billings, agreements to review. If there are any meetings scheduled, or travel if needed between Florida and Tennessee, I am always on the go.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Brainstorming in meetings, hearing other’s ideas. I need to have everything in writing. If we can’t figure a deal out on paper, and understand the financial risk, otherwise, how are we going to figure it out in real life? Its like a game plan.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Seeing the general consensus in the outlook of the economy has been positive, that excites me. It’s given me the confidence to take more chances or look at things that I wouldn’t have had otherwise considered.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m focus driven. Just knowing that I work for myself. I’m always looking for opportunities that would potentially be successful endeavors.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Always listen to your inner self. Question everything and challenge yourself. Challenge the people around you.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Although it helps to be passionate of business and business deals, you don’t necessarily need to be passionate to succeed. Luck sometimes supersedes passion and being in the right place at the right time prevails.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I tell so many people that want to do real estate deals, that we have to put it on paper. All the costs have to be analyzed through the use of a financial pro-forma. We have to understand not only the costs, be how the cash will flow during the project, this helps us understand our cash needs. It’s a critical piece of the puzzle, and at the end of the exercise you understand what the projected return on your investment is likely to be, this is a must.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Surrounding yourself with good people is important. Smart people who bring something to the table. Some bring money, some bring knowledge. Someone with knowledge and experience is more valuable than someone with only money.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

If the economy turns on you in real estate, and it has, you’re left holding the bag. You need an exit strategy to get out. Developing a strategy should be an important action to have going into a deal, if something should go bad. Have an idea of how to right the ship or get out quickly.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

People come to me that have never been in business and they’re looking for feedback on what to do, how to do it. Again, it’s always the same thing, you have to put it on paper first. Recognize all of your costs, hard costs, soft costs, indirect costs. Then understand how that money is going to flow throughout the duration of the project, know your breakeven. Account for all the risk and see what your ROI will be at the end of the day, is it worth the risk? What are you building, making or selling? How many do you have to make before you break even? If you don’t have a general understanding of it all, or you can’t put it on paper, you’re running at a much higher risk. Going through that process helps you answer and solve a lot of questions.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Probably having a dinner with new business partners or associates. It’s a bonding of sorts, you’re able to understand who they are as people, not just the business person. It helps make everyone more comfortable about doing business together.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I use a lot of Excel, and Outlook for email. Word for letters, and project management, using Microsoft Project.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Road to Ruin – by James Rickards. This book is valuable in that it causes the reader to be conservative with their money and to reduce or eliminate debt!

What is your favorite quote?

“The only way to have a friend is to be one”

Key Learnings:

• Always work hard, and if you are able to work for yourself, challenge yourself.
• Brainstorming is important, hearing other’s ideas.
• It is critical to have everything in writing to become successful.