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Home | SAN ANTONIO | Spotlight | Spotlight – E. Daniel Garcia, President, Rhino Design Build, LLC

Spotlight – E. Daniel Garcia, President, Rhino Design Build, LLC

image E. Daniel Garcia, owner of Rhino Design Build, and his wife, Elena

SAN ANTONIO – For more than 10 years, E. Daniel Garcia has been running his own construction company, Rhino Design Build. Having always admired his father, who owned his own business in the industry, Garcia started his own business Oct. 22, 2004 and formed his LLC a little less than a year later.

    With projects including home renovations and tenant finish outs, he has kept busy at work while founding a nonprofit to help less fortunate San Antonio residents with their homes. Crediting his father with the person he is today, Garcia is also learning how to be a father to his new baby.

Tell me about your family.
    My parents, Ed and Veronica Garcia, live in San Antonio, and I have one sister, Analiza Avila, who is two years younger than me. My father is an architect and has recently retired from a school district. He is now opening his architecture practice up, and we have teamed up to go after development and design build projects here in San Antonio.
    My father has extensive experience in the construction and development industry and had the honor of serving as president for the San Antonio Chapter of American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1996. My mother is a retired educator and administrator for Northside Independent School District (NISD). My sister works for a title company in San Antonio and is in charge of business development.

You were born in Lubbock, but you moved to San Antonio at 5 years old. Do you remember Lubbock, and do you have family there?
    I don’t remember Lubbock, but I do remember running up and down the ramp of the moving truck the day we moved to San Antonio. I don’t have any family from Lubbock. My parents were from Laredo, and I still have family that lives there.

When did you know you were interested in construction?
    I remember being extremely into playing with my building blocks. My dad tells stories of how I would build these massive buildings, and I would wait for him to get home from work so I could show him my latest creation. He said he would come in the door and I would grab his hand and drag him to my room to show him what I had built.
    He would run to get his camera to take a picture of it, and by the time he came back into the room, I had demolished it and started on a new building. I guess you could say I had a passion for building things at a young age.

What are your fondest memories of growing up?
    I recall having lots of energy as a child. I was always outside playing with my friends and would usually come inside to get a drink of water and then head back out. My favorite time was when my dad would get home from work, and we’d go to my elementary school field and throw the football around. I studied his every move – just as I’m sure most kids do.

It sounds like you really admired your father.
    Growing up, I would always brag to my friends about my dad and how he had his own business. I knew that someday I wanted to do the same. Everything that I am today I owe to having such an incredible dad. He taught me to always stand up for what I believe in, how to always be honest and upfront with people, how to always do what you say, how to run a business, and how to be a man.

How did you get started in the construction industry?
    When I turned 16, my Dad gave me my first job at his architecture/construction company as a runner. I would pick up material and deliver it to various jobsites. When I would get back to the office, I would watch the architects draw on computer software, and I was fascinated. It wasn’t long before I was helping design buildings and helping on projects. After I graduated high school, I enrolled in college and kept working full-time as well. I continued working and learning for my father’s companies until the decision was made to shut the companies down.

What happened then?
    I made a decision right then and there that I was going into business for myself. I only had $14 in my bank account and no real idea of what I was going to do to generate business. I started off designing custom homes for some investors, and before I knew it, I was in business with these investors and building custom homes on a golf course.

That’s great! Did it keep going that way?
    The business was beginning to roll in and I was gaining a reputation as a young and upcoming homebuilder in San Antonio. At that time, San Antonio was one of the hottest real estate markets for homebuilders in the nation.
    A local television station approached me to film a local version of the Extreme Home Makeover show. I was one of the main sponsors of the show and was in charge of rebuilding this home for a very deserving family. To capitalize on the momentum of the show, I filmed a television commercial that aired locally. This really increased business.
    It was now the start of 2008 and I wanted to expand my business, so I started a second business that focused on green energy products. Spreading the word about a new business is never easy, so I decided to film another television commercial to help generate quick sales. We hit the ground running. I was also doing radio advertising and local Internet marketing.
    Months went by and the sales kept coming in until the day the stock market crashed. My phone literally stopped ringing over night. Months went by and the bills were piling up.

How did you get past this?
    This would continue for the next two years until one morning I was reading the newspaper and stumbled upon an article that said Donald Trump’s show, “The Apprentice,” was looking for business owners affected by the economy to appear on season 10 of “The Apprentice.”
    I sent them an email explaining what happened to me and my business. They responded right away and a month later, I was a finalist and on a plane headed to Los Angeles to meet with casting producers and NBC executives. I stayed a week and went through all kinds of tests and interviews, but was not chosen for the final cast of the show.
    That opportunity would have never come my way had it not been for what I had been through in the business world. When I returned to San Antonio, I had felt like I now had the energy and desire to do it all over again and I have.

What do you enjoy about construction?
    What I really enjoy about construction is the creation of something that doesn’t exist and willing it into solid reality with my team. I enjoy providing jobs and helping local small business increase their business. I also enjoy exploring new business opportunities.

How did you meet your wife? How long have you been together and what do you enjoy doing together?
    My wife, Elena, and I were introduced through a friend that insisted that she had found “my wife.” As soon as I walked into the restaurant, my friend turned to me and said, “There’s your wife.” I looked and fell in love at first sight. After working up the courage to go over and talk to her, we struck up a conversation and went on our first date a week later. We’ve been together for four years and never left each other’s side since then.
    We just had our first daughter on Dec. 16, Arainna Elena Garcia. We’ve been lucky enough to do some traveling and can’t wait until our daughter is old enough so she can join us in our adventures. We are also both part of St. Paul’s Church A.C.T.S community and serve on the team.

What is A.C.T.S.?
    A.C.T.S. stands for Adoration Community Theology and Service. It is a church retreat that my wife and I attend almost every year. It is a great way to get away and refocus on what is important in our lives as well as help other people along the way. We strongly believe in “paying it forward.”

You started the Rhino Garcia Foundation last year. What kind of progress has your nonprofit made?
    The Rhino Garcia Foundation has teamed with Building For Hope and is currently filming footage helping local San Antonio residents that are living in homes that don’t meet current building code and need our help to fix the home.
    We are actively seeking donations to help us get this off the ground. There is no shortage of people that need our help, but there is a shortage of contributions to help us achieve our goal.
    I have seen some of the living conditions that some families are living in, and I can’t believe this is happening in our city. The worst part is seeing how this affects young children and the elderly. Starting a non-profit from scratch and finding funding to help has presented a huge challenge.

What are some of your biggest successes in life? And what are some goals you are still striving to achieve?
    My biggest successes in life have been getting married and starting my family. My nonprofit has been a long-time goal that has been recently introduced to San Antonio. I envision a world where everyone on Earth has a roof over their heads and a place to call home. It is my lifetime goal to help them all.

What are your favorite things to do when you have spare time?
    I really enjoy going to the gym and lifting weights. It’s a hobby that I took up back in 1998, and I really enjoy it.  Staying active has always played a huge role in my life. Also, I have recently teamed up with some investors and started flipping homes.

You were recently accepted as one of the San Antonio Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. What did it feel like to receive this award?
    Being selected as one of the 2015 40 Under 40 was a tremendous honor. I was nominated by some fellow business owners and colleagues. This was the first year that my hat was thrown into the ring for the award, and I had one shot at getting in because I turn 40 on Jun. 7. As I walked on stage and received the award, my mind quickly replayed all the moments – ups and downs – that had brought me to this point in time. I looked out in the crowd and saw my wife cheering – and trying to take as many photos as possible. I am truly blessed to have my wife as my number one supporter.
    I feel I was recognized for the award because not only are we a local San Antonio emerging small business, but we are also helping others along the way. I was fortunate to have my father as a mentor, not only growing up, but on the business side as well. Not everyone has that. I’ve had the privilege of working with some young entrepreneurs who sometimes just need a sounding board to bounce new ideas off of. I am also part of the City of San Antonio’s Mentor-Protégé Program. I am the protégé for Tony Davila’s company, Davila Construction. –mh


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Mary Hazlett mary@constructionnews.net