Dale White Sr. came to the United States in 1975 with nothing but a few dollars in his wallet and aspirations to become successful. After cutting his teeth at a construction company for 16 years, he founded D.A.G. Construction Co. Inc. in 1990.
Much the same way that White learned his trade before breaking out on his own, his company has grown through experience.
“Over the years, we partnered with larger construction companies to learn how they did their work,” says White, founder, president and CEO of D.A.G. “We mentored and grew, and now, we are trying to be a (mentor) for smaller companies to help them grow, too.”
Today, D.A.G. is one of the leading construction companies in the area and saw revenue of roughly $20 million in 2009.
Smart Business spoke to White about how honesty and communication grow a business.
What traits make a good leader?
Be honest with your clients, do a quality job and have open communication. When we start working with a client, we openly communicate with them. Sometimes we tell them the things they may not like to hear. We would rather be upfront and tell them, ‘This is what’s going to happen and this is how it happens,’ rather than them having surprises at a later date. Tell them the problems that exist right now — ‘Here’s a problem and here’s a solution.’ We give them the problem and the solution and being upfront with them shows them we have the characteristic of being honest and not trying to nickel and dime them.
How do you gain client trust?
If you want to build a clientele and you are a company that is growing, you want to show your clients that you care about them very much and that devotion may provide you recommendations to other companies. Personal touch goes a long way in promoting your business. It’s the cheapest way of advertisement for a company, word-of-mouth. Clients will say, ‘This guy came down here, and he’s the CEO. He came to the job site and met with me; he discussed the project with me and told me the problems and solutions and saved me so many dollars by doing this.’ This goes a long way in building that reputation.
How do you create working relationships?
Be open and communicative. Get them to tell you their problem — ‘Here’s my problem and here’s what I’m trying to do.’ How can you help them get through this? Unless I know you are having a problem, I can’t help you. That’s one way we try to get into their minds and try to give them advice. All we can tell them is how we solved that problem and then they build upon that.
How do you deal with tough competition?
The competition in the market has been extremely difficult. I look to grow my company by diversifying the business opportunities that I have. You have to get into other areas of your work and find a niche market and excel in that niche. You have to build a relationship with various clients. You have to be honest with your clients and tell them what it is that makes you different from your competition. You have to tell them why they should choose you and feel comfortable that they are not getting a raw deal. Give them that personal level of satisfaction that they are always trying to find. We try to be that extra arm for our clients and go beyond just being a contractor.
What is something that could prevent growth?
Not listening to your employees. Saying, ‘Let’s do this’ when you know you’re not capable of doing it. Growing too fast and not being structured. If you try to climb that ladder too quickly, you’ll come down real quick. You have to know the capacity of your company and what you can handle. Just because another company grew a certain way doesn’t mean you should.
How to reach: D.A.G. Construction Co. Inc., (513) 542-8597 or www.dag-cons.com