Danny Melo’s story begins in the Azores. It was here, in this small group of islands in the Atlantic, officially part of the Portuguese Republic, that his father and mother decided to roll the dice and take a chance on America. It was the 1970’s when Helio Melo left his small town for Lawrence, Massachusetts. He took a job in a local factory and saved and planned for his wife Theresa to join him. They spoke very little English when they arrived but they were hard workers and believed in education and the American Dream.
Helio and Theresa “weren’t afforded an extensive education and then they had to go to work. So education for their kids was very important to them. They wanted us to stay in school and further our education,” Melo explained.
Danny and his sister Deborah (Class of 2003) grew up in North Lawrence, in the Arlington school district and were enrolled at St. Mary’s school. While the family acclimated to their new country they never forgot their roots. The Melos spent a great deal of their free time volunteering at the Portuguese American Club on Saratoga Street where Helio served as President. The club serves as a social hub for the community, focusing on cultural activities and raising money for scholarships for local children.
When it came time to decide on high school Greater Lawrence Tech was a natural choice for Danny. His father and grandfather were very handy and the Carpentry Shop was where he wanted to be. But going from a small catholic school to a public high school was a little overwhelming.
“It was new to me, being in a public school, coming from a catholic school for eight years. Not having to wear a uniform or follow certain protocol…it was a bit of a culture shock. By sophomore year I was a little less timid and ready to get my feet wet. But as I embraced the high school experience I got more comfortable and I took the shop very seriously. I always wanted to be the first one to tackle a project and always wanted to stay busy. I would never shy away from any work that my teachers gave me.”
The teachers at GLTS served as his mentors as well. He mentioned Mr. Rheaume, Mr. Morache, Mr. Habib, Mr. Hamel and Mr. Berard. “They were very valuable. They were examples, men that I looked up to and saw that not only were they in the trade but they were teaching and giving back. I really appreciated that aspect of them,” Danny said.
Danny excelled in the classroom and gradated 11th in his class. Recently, Danny has become involved once again with GLTS. Current and former school staff have hired his company, DRM Solutions for projects on their homes. And he’s giving back to the school by serving on the Carpentry Advisory Board.
Soccer has played an important role in his life as well. Melo is passionate about the sport, he’s traveled to Portugal to watch games and still plays in leagues in the area. Melo was co-captain of the soccer squad his senior year and a conference all-star. His coach and guidance counselor was Tim Cusack. “Senior year I met with him and he told me to look at Hesser College – they were awarding soccer scholarships. It was the reason I chose to go there.”
At Hesser, Melo studied business management. “That education helped. It taught me about how to structure my business. How to communicate with people, how to sell and manage staff. I took a lot of good out of it.”
In 2012 he was spending a great deal of time volunteering at the Portuguese American Club and decided it was time to follow in his father’s footsteps. He became President of the club and served for three years. “The club is a very special part of my life – it goes back to networking. People saw me take over the role and I applied myself. With the support of an amazing team on my committee I got to help my community, but the community also helped me. It has served as a platform to help build my reputation.”
Melo formed DRM Solutions, a contracting business that has partnered with dozens of vendors, industry professionals and subcontractors throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Melo has exciting plans to grow his business. He would like to start focusing more on commercial work and larger scale projects.
At the same time, Melo runs a second business– DNJ Entertainment, an award winning DJ entertainment and event services company. “In the early 2000’s we started doing parties at the Portuguese Club – Halloween parties, summer parties and then we said why not take this seriously and put ourselves in the market. We now focus on premier events such as weddings and corporate functions.” Melo said.
The future is bright – and busy for Danny Melo. “I do my best. I’m a believer of being a student of your occupation – or occupations – in my case. I’m always learning.”
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