Electrical services provider Danard Electric is based in Tacoma, Washington and has a diverse clientele across the state. The company was formed in 1947 when Ben Danard wanted to start a company for electric home heating; he didn’t like what he saw in the industry at the time, and knew he could provide better quality and customer service.
After entering the commercial market, Danard’s company grew to its current state, where current President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Doyle represents the fourth generation of ownership in the family business. He remembers counting the parts as a young boy in the shop, and although he initially resisted the call of the family business, he decided to apply to the company directly after college. Since then, Danard has become a big part of his life, and he looks back fondly on his decision to head the company.
This commercial electrical company can adapt far better than other companies in its field because it does not get stuck in niche markets and can move where the economy demands without stretching itself too thin. Its work has allowed it to find customers in private work projects in the construction of offices, hotels, breweries, and the like or projects through the military-industrial complex. The latter, Doyle notes, has been a big help during national business slowdowns like the COVID-19 pandemic or the 2008 recession.
He feels that the company’s internal culture and values positively set it apart from others because it is driven by a desire to help people. When Doyle began his position in company leadership in 2018, he sought to refine the company’s purpose by establishing a management team to enact planning that would focus on helping people in its home state. This planning period allowed people-centric values to be introduced into the overall culture, and this has been the direction which the business has driven toward ever since.
The Seattle area of Washington has a reputation for being home to many big contractors, whereas Danard is on the smaller side but has a unique approach. The company’s goal is to be big enough to be able to handle any project, as opposed to leaving projects to bigger companies. It also wants to live up to a phrase that is paramount to its internal culture: ‘committed to building a better world.’ The phrase came from Doyle’s strategy sessions, and he says that Danard is in the business of people above all.
The goal in company operations is for customers to be happy with the services the company provides and to pursue design-build work with people who want a quality product that can show off Danard’s strengths. This attitude is indicative of the type of projects the business wants to pursue, and it does not end in its internal culture. Indeed, building a better world is applied to emphasizing the importance of small acts of kindness on all levels.
These acts, according to Doyle, influence and affect the attitudes of all involved and how the company presents itself in the market. For example, the company spends a lot of its time helping local charities and initiatives for this exact reason, including donating time and money to local organizations like the Family Renewal Shelter, Habitat for Humanity Tacoma, schools, animal shelters, and more.
These associations and constructing buildings that bring an inherent value to its home state are what the company feels lead the way toward building a better future for people now and for future generations.
Doyle sees the current state of the electrical industry as strong, especially for the company. While competitors are seeing challenges across certain markets, Danard is keeping busy with a healthy list of current projects and more opportunities ahead, although ongoing challenges with labor, supply chains, and certain elements in the current political landscape could prove to be tricky to navigate.
He says that the company is working around labor shortages by doing more pre-construction and pre-fabrication on projects. This allows the company to lower the overall size of crews needed for individual jobs and level the large groups needed on some projects, so people and resources can be more spread out.
Since 2018, Danard has seen some of its senior members and key foremen retire along with changes in other positions happening in close succession, so the company has put more focus on developing new talent and leadership.
“We can branch out to new general contractors and refresh our business development,” thanks to this approach, Doyle adds. The business is also working with general contractors and owners through the design-build process to address any supply chain issues as soon as possible to eliminate any questions or worries on the client’s part. In all cases, it aims to be as proactive as possible in pursuing solutions and delivering its signature high-quality service.
Doyle firmly believes that a company should never grow just for the sake of growing and must be the size that fits best for its unique situation. “Why make the same amount of profit with double the problems?” he asks.
That work in the current landscape is being awarded to larger Seattle contractors is a continuing issue, especially as no other company in the space is growing to meet this, but Doyle has a plan that he calls “$50 million in five years.” This plan means that generating $50 million in annual revenue would allow Danard to do most projects in the area without taking up the total revenue needed for a year, which is also a financially feasible solution.
Along with keeping this philosophy front of mind, the company is looking to add more staff and construct a new pre-fabrication warehouse next to its current headquarters. The company has also secured contracts with some larger area general contractors to partner with, and intends to add five new general contractors a year to expand its reach. A move into the southern area of Washington is also being considered, along with work on other projects that would help this goal progress.
Ultimately, the Danard crew will always strive to honor the company’s commitment to its values. “We need to make money to stay in business but it’s really about our passion and commitment to doing the right thing,” Doyle says, and this involves making good products for people and building a better world, which cannot happen without the team buying into this vision. Having recently hit its 75th anniversary, Danard Electric has a solid history that shows no signs of stopping any time soon.