You can learn a lot about who David and Mario Borgatello’s and his family-owned and operated business, MarBorg Industries, are by how they respond to community needs.
Like when the Thomas Fire and the subsequent flooding and mudslides brought much of Santa Barbara, their hometown, to a standstill.
With thousands of residents scrambling to save lives and property, with automobile and train access made impossible by road and rail closures, and with public services severely disrupted, MarBorg — the city’s major garbage collection, recycling and waste management company — made sure its employees, many of whom lived in Ventura and Oxnard, could get to work and serve their community.
“So we brought our employees up here on boats,” says David. “We paid for their room and meals for the week, until the trains could run. We all worked countless hours a day to help people and businesses in the city cope with the hardships they experienced. “Because that was our job, to help those who needed it. That’s how we’ve always functioned as a business that appreciates the support we have received from our community.”
And that’s how David Borgatello, his brother Mario and their large Italian family have operated as well. As lifelong Catholics, Santa Barbara natives and active supporters of Catholic education and community outreach agencies that serve those most in need, David and Mario were nominated for the 2019 Cardinal’s Award for their countless acts of kindness and service to others.
But, to David, a longtime parishioner at Mission Santa Barbara, that is simply doing what their parents and their faith have taught them, from day one.
His parents, after all, had helped build David and Mario’s alma mater, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Elementary School, initially a wooden structure with four classrooms for eight grades.
“Times weren’t always easy then,” recalls David, who graduated in 1956, “and the Immaculate Heart Sisters ran a no-nonsense classroom where you paid attention or else. But they were great years, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”
It was the same at Santa Barbara Catholic High School and, later, newly opened Bishop Garcia Diego High School where David was in the first graduating class (1960). “There was a closeness among us that continues to today, one reason Catholic education is so special,” he says.
What stayed with him most, he continues, is “how Mom and Dad and all the parents gave back. They did what they could with what they had. And it rubbed off on me and my wife of 55 years, Louise. It taught us to do as much as we can, and that’s why Together In Mission is wonderful, because it helps many parishes and schools who need help.”
That attitude toward serving others was reflected in the way David and Mario’s father, Mario Sr., and their Uncle operated the family business founded more than 80 years ago, in which they often called upon their teenage sons to assist.
“Dad would get me up early in the morning,” recalls David, smiling, “and he’d say, ‘I’m using you as ‘top man’ today.’ That meant standing in the truck, taking the trash can as it was handed to me, dumping it out and stomping down on the trash with my boots.”
But there was more than physical labor involved in working for his father. “Dad was big on service,” David says. “The larger estates in Montecito would require to have their trash cans emptied, line them with newspaper before putting them back. Dad would make sure we set every can or barrel back to where we found it, with lids on.
That attitude has carried through to today. “We have the cleanest trucks in town,” says David. “People tell us we have a beautiful, well-managed business. And we take care of our employees; many of them have been with us for over 30 years.”
Both David and Mario have children working in the business, the third generation of Borgatellos, “and they do a great job,” says David. “I feel so blessed at how our company has grown and been able to help others. All you have to do is drive by Catholic Charities and see the line of people waiting for food, and it really motivates you to be involved.”
Throughout its history, MarBorg and the Borgatello family have supported Santa Barbara’s Catholic schools, which have honored David, his family and company for their support, helping children who otherwise couldn’t afford it attend Catholic school. The list includes Our Lady of Mount Carmel, San Roque, St. Raphael and Notre Dame Elementary Schools and Bishop Garcia Diego High School, where David and Mario’s grandchildren are students.
David remembers telling his oldest grandaughter, “Don’t mess me up now, because I’m watching you.” She said, ‘Papa, how can I forget? I see your picture in the hallway every day!’”
The Borgatello home is filled with pictures of David’s family, including his and Louise’s three daughters, sons-in-law and eight grandchildren, ages 9 to 20. Most of all, it is filled with love and a spirit of dedication to service that continues to be nurtured by those who have gone before them.
“When there was someone or something that needed help,” smiles David, “Dad would ask, ‘When are you gonna step up to the plate?’ When you hear that, you respond.”