John Danis First Project Story

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My first job was at the yard as soon as I was old enough to work, and by the time I was a senior in high school, I was working for the Danis Highway division as a laborer on Fairfield Road. After college, I started with the company full-time working three months in the Estimating Department before being assigned to the City of Dayton Waste Water Treatment project as a Project Engineer. I remember there used to be a contractor’s picnic every year that was a huge get together. The day after the picnic, I slept through my alarm and got to the job-site late, but I was still the first one there. A little later that morning, I got a call from the Co-op saying he was going to be coming in late and asking me to cover for him with the Project Manager (PM) until he got in. I told him, “I will, if the PM ever shows up today.” Things were a little looser back then.

BIGGEST CHANGE. There have been several big changes over the years, the largest being that I went from being one of eleven shareholders in the Danis Companies to the largest shareholder of the Danis Building Construction Company (DBCC). In 1997, there were a lot of options on the table for the future of the company that were being discussed. I went to Home Depot to buy light bulbs and it must have triggered something because a light bulb went off in my head. I wanted to buy DBCC myself, but didn’t have the resources. I ended up asking my brothers, sisters, and cousin Chris to go in with me. They said yes, and in October we bought Danis Building Construction Company.

Another major shift was going from the design, bid, build (hard bid) delivery method to qualification based competitions (construction management or CM) in regard to how we acquire and construct work. I came up in treatment plant construction which is a hard bid industry. I first saw the use of CM when I moved to our corporate department in 1992. I remembered thinking, “Wow that is so much easier than bidding work”. While I was wrong that it was any easier, my eyes were opened to the fact that CM was going to be the preferred way to construct buildings.

Beginning in the late 1990s and continuing today, we have made huge investments in our abilities to deliver CM projects and maximize value for the owner. Without these investments in conceptual estimating, pre-construction, MEP personnel, a quality department, and virtual design and construction, we would in no way be the success we are today and the contractor of choice for our owners.

FAVORITE PROJECT. My favorite project was the City of Cincinnati treatment plant. It was the first project where I was able to be involved from the start of the project, and it was a great team. It was a very collaborative project environment. Not long after that, new federal mandates on treatment plants created a huge volume of treatment plant work. At one point, I would work until 3:30 onsite and then go to the office, as would other PM’s, to help estimating stay on top of it all.

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