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