A Visionary Leader: Atlanta Design & Build President Dale Contant

Part 2: Kernels of Wisdom from an Industry Leader

According to Dale, the best advice he could give to someone just starting out with their own business is,

Stay focused on your core business. Be resilient and nimble enough to make changes. Be tenacious and persistent. Don’t chase rabbits, or ‘opportunities,’ because they may lead you down a rabbit hole. Stay focused.

In the past, he has witnessed people falling down various rabbit holes, to the detriment of their businesses. Staying focused on your core business purpose and message, and being the best at what you do, is a formula for success that Dale incorporates into his own practices. He also advises newcomers into business ownership to develop a value proposition to everything you do: whether it’s sales, service, marketing, or whatever you do, always look at your ROI. Above all else, treat everyone how you want to be treated: be respectful to everyone. Dale’s formula for success also includes happy clients, successful employees (in both their personal and professional lives), being consistent and persistent, not asking someone to do anything that you wouldn’t do (unless it’s something you do not know how to do).

Dale’s Sage Advice on Work/Life Balance

Early on in his career, when his four daughters were young, Dale worked many hours and a lot of weekends providing for his family. His advice is “Find a work/life balance, don’t sacrifice your family for your business.” He was able to take his family on vacations several times a year for quality family time, but if he had it to do over again, he would have made more time daily. Dale found more work/life balance when he joined NARI.  It was here he established peer relationships, and made friends who became mentors, among them, three fellow-contractors with whom he can share anything and ask any question he has. Currently, he works approximately 50 hours per week, spending his time working on clients’ files, meeting them face to face, and overseeing the entire business operation.

Dale and Keely Contant’s four daughters: Lindsey, Sydney, Ali, and Alex

Family Legacy and a Legacy of Excellence

As for working with family members, Dale says it is “business as usual.” When he worked with his dad, he never received any sort of preferential treatment. When he began working with family, he vowed to give no preferential treatment, but he admits this is easier with his daughter Sydney than with his wife Keely! Members of his family are expected to work like any other employee and do not receive favoritism. Sydney spent 10 years working in the field before she came into the office as Production Assistant Manager. In 2016, at the age of 26, Sydney was named one of the “40 under 40” by Professional Remodeler magazine. Dale has created a legacy, not only in the creation of a family business, but in the creation of jobs that encourage team members to grow and thrive in their professional and personal lives.  

On another token, Dale shares that the most satisfying moments of his career aren’t only from winning a NARI Contractor of the Year Award, although he finds these wins particularly thrilling. As someone devoted to personal growth and development, not just professional, he relishes learning opportunities he’s experienced. There have been times he has gone out on a limb about something, only to find in the end that he was wrong. According to Dale, “Sometimes you have to have humility, admit you’re wrong, and apologize. When people can’t do that, how can they ever be happy?” Dale doesn’t just say the words, he makes things right; for example, when creating a set of three doors for a client, one of them wound up having a too-narrow opening. Dale admitted he had been wrong about the doors he installed and replaced them. He learned from his mistake, ensuring that mistake won’t happen again. “It’s okay to be wrong and apologize,” he reiterates.

Dale and his wife Keely just welcomed their second grandchild into the world, and they are expecting a third grandchild in just a couple of months. Dale is happy to be at this phase of his life, and says:

I’ve spent my whole career in people’s homes, sitting around their tables, and watching them go through various stages of life: that’s how I learned about family and how the family home transitions over the years. 

An avid gardener, Dale is currently working on deer-proofing this year’s garden plot due to an abundance of deer on his new property. On weekends, he enjoys creating and building things for his home, as well as his children’s homes. He also loves boating, scuba diving, and anything involving the ocean or other bodies of water. He and his wife love to travel and they often choose destinations surrounded by water.

Dale’s garden

A Visionary Leader: Atlanta Design & Build President Dale Contant

Part 1: The Professional Side

Dale receiving a NARI Lifetime Achievement Award from Tom Miller, the National President of NARI, in April, 2018

Dale Contant is the President and Principal Owner of Atlanta Design & Build. ADB has been in business since 1996 and is one of the few National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Accredited Remodeling Companies in the nation, and the only one in GA. Dale’s commitment to raise the level of professionalism homeowner’s can expect when contracting a remodeler has motivated his active involvement in the remodeling industry.

He is a licensed contractor in the state of Georgia. Dale holds NARI credentials for Master Certified Remodeler (MCR), Certified Remodeling Project Manager (CRPM) and Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP). He has also served in leadership for NARI at both the local and, for 15 years, at the national levels; holding NARI National officer positions since 2013 culminating in 2018-2020 as National Chairman of the Board. He also spent 5 years on the board of Rebuilding Together Atlanta, an organization assisting elderly homeowners and veterans with major home repairs.

Formative Years: Raised on the Job Site

Dale was born in Ft Lauderdale, FL, and later his family moved to Boca Raton where he lived until his mid-20s. His father was a contractor, and he began spending time on construction sites helping his dad work on residential projects when he was 8 years old. Dale studied drafting in high school, and began junior college with plans to become an architect. His interest, however, changed to construction.

In his early 20s, Dale married and the couple decided to move to the North Carolina mountains. Dale built his first home there, and pursued the path of a contractor. Several years later, when the opportunity presented itself, he became a licensed insurance agent for a local insurance agency. He credits his sales acumen to his time spent in insurance sales; the company he worked with had extensive sales training based on well-honed, time-tested systems. Dale and his wife, Keely, remained in North Carolina for 7 years before accepting a regional management position with the insurance company and relocating to Marietta, GA in 1988. In 1989, having several years of sales behind him, Dale began using his knowledge of both construction and sales and returned to his field of preference as a salesperson for a sunroom company.    

This is the first home Dale built for his family over 35 years ago in Boone, North Carolina.

Branching Out on His Own  

Once his family began growing, and his wife stopped working full time, he picked up much side work. Clients, who hired him for these weekend-warrior style jobs of building decks, and outdoor projects, complained of the unprofessionalism from contractors, saying they rarely returned calls or showed up on time. Recognizing a lack of integrity and consistency inherent in the construction services side of business and the need for what he refers to as old-fashioned construction principles – of “doing what you say you are going to do” – birthed the concept of Sun-Fun Remodeling. (Having fun working while the sun was shining.)  Equipped with the type of work ethic instilled in Dale from a young age, he “stepped out onto a plank” and went into business on his own. As Sun-Fun and its processes evolved so did the scale of projects contracted.  This shift to more extensive renovation projects prompted the name change to Atlanta Design & Build to represent better, who the company had become.   

From the beginning, Dale’s business foundation was sound, and he credits many of the “steppingstones” throughout his early experience with guiding him to launch his own business. He not only learned to have a consistent work ethic from his dad, but he also realized he wanted marketing for his business that went beyond word of mouth and referrals, something his dad never did.  Dale is motivated by always wanting to be better than he was the day before, achieving challenging goals, and providing well for his family. He thrives on being a part of a team and finds the blessings are threefold: personal development, creating rewarding careers for others, and client satisfaction.

A Shared Heart: Teamwork & Professional Satisfaction

Dale Contant ADB President with employees

Professionally, Dale enjoys the challenge of going to meet a client, seeing and hearing about their pain issues with their home, and imparting a vision to them that resolves their problems and makes them excited about their home again. He strives to deliver a high level of service and wants to help improve client’s lives. Dale strives for collaboration with clients and team members to produce exceptional and creative design ideas.  It is our heart’s desire to transform their home to enrich their lives. 

With his team, it is gratifying to see employees enjoy what they’re doing, and it’s rewarding to watch people thrive in a stable career that allows them to flourish both personally and professionally. Much of ADB’s customer base is repeat clients and referrals. Dale’s greatest satisfaction is having a client who becomes a devoted fan of ADB. When asked about his company’s culture, he says, “like any company, there are ups and downs, but the team works together, playing to one another’s strengths and supporting one another in weaker areas.” He credits the stellar teamwork of ADB with team building meetings conducted once or twice per year, and also an annual company fishing trip. Dale also cultivates a “culture of learning” wherein contractors become certified and establish themselves as professionals in the industry through extensive training, in addition to their time spent in the field.

Check back soon, for Part 2 of our blog coverage on Dale. Read his kernels of wisdom on starting your own business, how he defines success, and a bit more of his story!

The Skilled Trades: A Direct Path to Success

Now that a huge number of millennials are buying homes, the US is experiencing housing shortages in many parts of the country. Part of the reason there are more home seekers than available homes is the skilled labor shortage. The skilled labor shortage doesn’t just impact home buyers and homeowners seeking needed remodeling for their current homes, it has an enormous impact on interior designers, builders, and remodelers. Due to an inability to find professionals in the skilled trades, many building and remodeling companies feel their growth has been slowed. Some companies could take on more projects, and serve clients faster, if they had plentiful skilled trades to employ. Many companies have to pick and choose which jobs will be the most profitable, leaving homeowners with smaller projects at a disadvantage.

Times Have Changed: A Generation Disinterested?

As contractors and business owners retire from the industry, there is often a lack of interest from the next generation to take over the family business. Younger generations were often brought up being told that a college degree was the only way to a successful career path. They often majored in industries that are increasingly less relevant or lucrative than the trades or oversaturated with qualified workers and not enough available positions.   

More and more, college graduates go through multiple career changes and relocations in search of an elusive sense of stability. With student loan debt crushing many millennials’ finances and optimism, career changes and frequent moves make it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some people from the younger generations eventually find their way to the trades through a circuitous path. While it is wonderful how college graduates are returning to college, vocational school, or becoming apprentices in the skilled trades, a more direct path would lead to faster success, financial security, and both professional and personal growth. Making young people aware of the benefits of a career in the trades is a big part of solving the labor shortage.

Initiatives Working to Strengthen the Skilled Trades

Here are some of the initiatives in the industry supporting the development of a strong workforce in the trades to fill the approximately 750,000 positions that will be vacant in the next 6 years.

  • The National Association of Remodelers (NARI) has an education and workforce development initiative. NARI “supports increased training opportunities that will lead to greater access to skilled labor, without discrimination based on labor affiliation,” and “supports efforts to integrate Career and Technical Education back into High School curriculums across the country.”

    NARI has also partnered at the highest level, with SkillsUSA, a national non-profit    organization serving teachers, high school, and college students preparing for careers in the trades. SkillsUSA provides quality educational experiences in leadership, teamwork, citizenship, and character development. They provide state and national construction competitions requiring nearly every skill that can translate into a rewarding profession in the skilled trades
  • NKBA’s Next Up initiative seeks to bring education of the trades as a career option into middle and high schools as a response to shortages in the industry. Next Up endeavors to “recruit and empower a well-prepared workforce that will contribute to the future prosperity and vibrancy of the kitchen and bath industry.”
  • We are Generation T is another initiative with a powerful message on strengthening the skilled trades. Their goals include:
    1. Rallying a national audience to help promote or join the trades.
    2. Connecting people to apprenticeships, training, and trade-related programs in community colleges.
    3. Bringing shop classes back to target cities.

The ADB Family Supports the Skilled Trades

ADB is fortunate to have one of our own family members who has stepped up to learn the industry and work in the family business. We are incredibly proud of our Production Assistant Manager (PAM), and the daughter of ADB’s President, Dale Contant, Sydney Nunes, CRPM (Certified Remodeling Project Manager). Sydney spent a decade in the field before coming into the office as the PAM. She apprenticed for 5 years before becoming a project manager. Sydney was also named a “40 under 40” by Professional Remodeler when she was just 26. She has put her support of the skilled trades into practice, with a focus on lifting up the next generation of women in construction, by participating in Mentoring a girl in construction (MAGIC) camp, an organization introducing middle school and high school girls to careers in construction.

https://www.atlantadesignbuild.com/blog/infrar2020 Residential Coty award-winning bathroom

ADB Wins NARI Regional Contractor of the Year (CotY) Award for 2020

Atlanta Design & Build has been named 2020 NARI Regional CotY Winner, in Region 2-Southeast, for Residential Bath $75,001 to $100,000. Look at this amazing master bath transformation:

This elegant, spa-like bathroom also won a 2019 NARI – Atlanta CotY award.

2020 NARI Residential CotY bathroom vanity, water closet, heated towel bar
View of the water closet, built-in vanity, and heated towel rack

Winning a CotY Award is a distinguished recognition. We are honored to be in the ranks of the best in the remodeling industry. NARI received almost 500 entries valued at over $138 million, and our project stood out as the best in our category for our region.

2020 NARI Residential CotY bathroom with sauna
The client desired an infrared sauna as part of their luxurious space

Our clients’ 90s style master bathroom was dated and dysfunctional: the master bath entrance required passing through a claustrophobic hallway, containing a pair of inadequate walk-in closets. We created a seamless entrance into the master bath from the bedroom, along with an incredible walk-in closet for two.  

ADB is an award-winning design/build firm but we aren’t simply concerned with awards and recognition: we treat our clients as part of our ADB family. Our goal is to help transform your home to enrich your life. Contact us today for an initial project consultation.

ADB’s Newest Kitchen and Bath Expert: Heather Marcet-Henderson

We are pleased to have Heather Marcet-Henderson, AKBD (Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer), as our Design and Sales Consultant and part of the ADB family: she has been with us for nearly a year! Heather is originally from San Diego, but her father was in the military, so they moved frequently. She relocated to Georgia in 1997 to attend The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and now resides in Kennesaw with her husband and son. Heather earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology before she decided to study design, and she received a Master of Arts in Interior Design from SCAD.

In addition to her extensive education, Heather has a strong background in design. In the past, she has worked as a designer of model homes and clubhouses, a design representative for a tile company and a design studio manager for a new home builder. Heather has also worked as a private designer. As our Design and Sales Consultant, she works with clients making selections for cabinetry, countertops, tile, plumbing fixtures, etc. and choosing space planning design options for kitchens and baths. She does everything from drawing kitchen and bath layouts in Chief Architect to suggesting various organizational features for increased functionality.

A Solid Team with Integrity

Heather met Dale, and other ADB team members, 8 years ago when she worked with us on a client’s home where Dale was the contractor. She was applying for a job and called Dale to see if he could give her a reference. He said that he needed to hire someone with her skill set. The timing of their conversation was serendipitous, and it all happened organically. When Heather had previously met Dale, and other members of the ADB team, she thought it would be great to work with us—according to her, it has been great!

Her favorite part about being a member of the ADB family is that “ADB is a good, solid team of people. The level of integrity that Dale has matches my own personal level of integrity.”

Perfect Skill Set  

Heather in her element at the drafting table

When creating design solutions for clients, every project is different, and this is where Heather’s psychology degree comes in handy. The most important part of the design process is listening. According to Heather, clients will tell you about their current design’s problems, but they sometimes either hold back, or have trouble identifying all the issues with their current design. Heather states that “There is not a pat answer for everyone’s life.” She listens to our clients’ cues to determine exactly what they need.

Sometimes, during the design process, Heather finds herself acting almost as a mediator because she’s helping couples compromise and agree on a design. She also helps to steer clients toward what will best help them and give them the most satisfaction from their kitchen and bath. Heather states that the main challenge in her work is finding a balance between a client’s needs, wants, and their budget. She helps guide them to features that will give them the biggest benefit.

Favorite Leisure Activities

Heather Horseback riding in Costa Rica

Outside the office Heather enjoys doing mission work and spending time in Costa Rica.  She loves going horseback riding and hiking, especially near Costa Rican waterfalls.

Wellborn, red color trend modern kitchen

Color Trends for Your Remodeled Kitchen

Expressing your personality is often ignored when it comes to updating your home’s kitchen. While white is classic, and a go-to color for many kitchen remodels, it is not your only option. When you decide to remodel your kitchen, consider playing with a color trends. Moody and jewel tone color trends in the kitchen are huge for 2020. Your kitchen is more than just a place for preparing meals, it’s a room for chatting, entertaining, and the place where kids may get a snack and do their homework after school. Because your kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the home, the color palette you use can contribute to your mood.

Playing it Safe or Customizing Your Forever Home

If you aren’t planning to stay in your home for at least the next five years, you may want to consider the resale value of your home before using any finishes or color trends that are currently popular. Safer color choices are better for resale value but consider using a pop of color on your island cabinets or other accents in a smaller area. If you really want to play with color, choose areas that are easily changed or accent furnishings. Remember, don’t pick a color just because it’s in style: use colors that you love!  

There are so many spaces within your kitchen to use color. Your walls can always be painted in whatever shade you like, but think cabinetry, countertops, tile backsplashes, statement appliances and more!

  • Cabinetry: Use neutrals or consider having a colorful island with neutral cabinets.
  • Countertops: Countertops can be a great place for a pop of color. Countertop finishes are available in many color varieties depending on materials and tastes.
  • Backsplashes: Super colorful and patterned backsplashes are not very popular right now, but using a bold, solid, color tile for a backsplash is a huge trend.
  • Statement appliances: New colorful appliances make a great centerpiece in your brand-new kitchen. While they can come with a hefty price tag, they are more easily swapped out than cabinetry if you get bored or want to sell your home. Many of these appliances are also high-end and can last a lifetime. Some options are even being designed with removable front-pieces so that you can simply swap out the color.
modern luxury grey and white color trend kitchen
Two-tone cabinets are still trending, and gray is still a fairly safe neutral, although no longer as popular as moodier shades like black

Here are some possible color choices for your newly remodeled kitchen:

Popular Neutrals

Gray, blue and black are the most popular color choices for cabinetry after white. Blue is a huge color choice in every area of the home this year. Blue leads to feelings of serenity and calm and it is also one of the most universally liked colors. The colors of the year for 2020 are Classic Blue from Pantone and Naval Blue from Sherwin-Williams. Gray has been falling out of fashion slightly, but it is still one of the neutrals many people gravitate toward. Black makes a bold statement and it is sophisticated and masculine. Using black in the kitchen has become a popular choice. Some hot 2020 appliances are coming in black stainless to keep up with this growing trend.   

Green for Multiple Styles

Thermador color trend green refrigerator

Many homeowners are using green more often in the kitchen. It’s an earthy color instilling a sense of freshness and nature. Mint green is having a moment of popularity, and it works well if your kitchen tends to feel dark. Also, if you have a farmhouse kitchen, olive or mint can work well. Emerald green, which was hot last year, is still trending in the kitchen. Because emerald is so dark, use it in kitchens with an abundance of natural light. Brass and copper hardware look amazing paired with emerald finishes and are a popular choice.  

Pink is a Perfect Accent Color

If you have white cabinets, walls in a pale pink shade can create a soft and unexpected contrast in the room. Consider accompanying pink with shades of grey because it compliments pale pink. 

Sherwin-Williams color trend mantra palette kitchen, pink
This modern kitchen is done in Sherwin-Williams’ Mantra palette, part of their 2020 Color Forecast

Yellow in a Modern Way

Forza statement stove in color trend yellow
This statement range by Forza is modeled after an Italian sports car!

Mustard yellow was a popular color for kitchens in the 1970’s. These days, yellows are coming in a wide variety of shades that range from a bright sunny yellow to paler colors. Wood cabinets and wood floors pair well with gold and honey shades of yellow. White cabinets look clean and fresh with lemon yellow accents. Use barstools in a sunny shade of yellow beside your white island for a modern look.

Red Can Take You from Drab to Fab

Red is a color that can make or break a room. Darker and deeper red hues are perfect for a contemporary kitchen. Marble countertops or chrome accents will pair with that fire engine red well. Farmhouse kitchens need more of an apple shade of red.

ADB Can Help You Design a Kitchen with Personality

ADB is here to design and build your new kitchen! We want you to come home to a kitchen that makes you feel content. As part of your kitchen remodel, whether you want a classic, timeless look, or you are ready to experiment with some of your favorite color trends, our aim is to transform your home and enrich your life! Contact us today to get started on your next remodeling project!