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Spotlight - Randy Don Carlos, DCA Construction LP

image L-R: DCA’s Randy Don Carlos and his “way smarter” Border Collie “Pepper”

AUSTIN - Never doubt a high school teacher’s ability to shape a student’s future. Randy Don Carlos doesn’t. When a teacher saw his promise in drafting as a high school senior, it set him on a career path that eventually led to him owning his own construction management firm, DCA Construction LP. In turn, he is nurturing the promise of those who may someday helm DCA.

 

 

Describe how you were introduced to construction.
    My family [had no ties] to construction; my father worked for American Airlines and my mom was a stenographer. Growing up, I showed no interest in building at all. In high school, however, I enjoyed drafting. During my senior year, my drafting teacher suggested that I try to get a job in an architect’s office, and so that is what I did.

What path did your life take after high school?
    I started college at San Jose State University as an aeronautics major, but I switched and got my degree in business management. In the meantime, I had to work in order to afford school, so I kept working for that architecture firm, KCBL. In fact, I spent 14 years with KCBL and eventually became owner of that firm.
    In 1998, while working for that same firm, I had an opportunity to come to Austin to work on a project for a year. Then, I went to Indianapolis to work on the state office building project in Indianapolis for two years.
    After that, I came back to Austin and, at that time, my two partners in the architecture firm were retiring. We closed the firm and I went to work for a firm here in Austin, O’Connell Robertson, in 1993. I stayed with that firm for four years and became a licensed architect, and then I went to be a facilities manager at Dell.
    After Dell, I became the director of design and construction for the Seton Health Care Network. I did that for four years, and that is when my partner, George Allen, and I decided that we were going to start our own construction company, DCA Construction, in 2005.

What motivated you to start DCA Construction at that time?

    I think George and I both came to the realization that we had the experience and the ability to do this and we wanted to try it on our own. It was more difficult than I expected but it was also much more incredibly rewarding.

How has the company evolved in the past 14 years?

    It’s grown from a small firm doing small projects to a medium-sized firm doing large projects. We are primarily what we call “core and shell commercial general contractors.” We do no public work; all of our work is for clients in the private sector. Ninety percent of our work is repeat work for existing clients.

What do you consider the most rewarding part of your work?

    The most rewarding thing for me is that I have a great team of people that have been with the firm for a long time and I am most proud of providing an opportunity for those individuals and their families to live a great lifestyle.

What does it take to achieve success at DCA, and what is the company culture like?
    I would say that to be successful at DCA Construction, you need to be self-motivated and self-managed. The culture is a hands-off management style.

What lessons have you learned?
    Patience and understanding.

Who has mentored you on your journey in this industry?
    I have a tremendous mentor; Michael Lorimer was actually the person who hired me when I was a senior in high school and was was a partner in that architecture firm. He’s been a longtime friend and mentor. I could not be where I am at today if it were not for him.

Have you had the opportunity to mentor others?
    I would like to think that I have been able to impart some professional and personal knowledge with my two new, younger partners, Kevin Foltermann and Dustina Gunn Warner.

What do you think is an important thing to teach mentees about?

    Integrity is number one for me. Your word means everything. I don’t care about contracts or legal contracts. Your word and your handshake is everything.     I’ve experienced [a lack of integrity many times in my career] but you just have to move on. That defines them and it also separates you from them and we just don’t do any more deals together.
    I’ve been very fortunate in that we work with a select group of clients and do a lot of repeat work. We never run into those issues now because I feel like in our business we are in partner with our clients, and we have a few really great clients.

What do you hope the future holds for the company?

    I hope it continues to grow and prosper. To a large extent, it really is a platform for Kevin and Dustina to determine where they want to take the firm.

If you could design anything anywhere would it be?
    I tell you, I’m working on my biggest design project ever and it’s a continuous process: I am designing an organization that will transcend and outlive me. In 100 years, I want it to be an organization that would provide value, provide a great service for our clients and would be filled with amazing people.

Share about you personal life and what you enjoy doing in your free time.
    I’m married and have no children. I have a Border Collie, Pepper, and she is way smarter than I am! I also play golf.

How is your game, and where do you like to play?

    It’s pretty fair! I like to play at Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, Pelican Hill, and my dream golf course is of course, Augusta.

Have you traveled recently, and what did you do on your travels?
    I just got back from Costa Rica. It was a time of good friends, fishing, and playing golf. I go down there probably four times a year. I think it’s an amazing place with amazing people. It’s a great place to relax.

Anything else we should know about you?
    Well, I’m a fairly decent architect!

Do you think you will do this work the rest of your life?
    Yes. I can’t see myself ever retiring. By design, the organization allows me to have some personal social time away from the office and my amazing partners will continue on.
    I still look forward getting up every morning and going into the office. Now, I don’t want to do it five days a week, 52 weeks a year but I want to get it to a point where it’s a half-time thing, and I would be happy. Retirement is not in my vocabulary!
    General contractor DCA Construction LP in Austin offers construction management services for commercial projects. –mjm


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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net