I hope you are enjoying my blog as much as I’m enjoying reflecting and writing it. I am hopeful this blog will help others know, despite trauma, hardship, and tough times in our lives–life is good; dreams do come true and we are very blessed when we trust in our Heavenly Father.
Well it is now 1987 and if you’ve read my earlier post, you have noticed, I’ve been through a few things in my life. I’ve had some interesting jobs, and have been inspired by some great people. I’ve been broke, but have always remained dedicated to my dream, and have done my best to keep God first in my life.
After being a construction project manager and part time bounty hunter, the time had come to try my hand at running my own construction company. I always thought I would have an architectural firm, but a few things happened along the way that changed that. I fell in love with construction and I knew I would only be an average architect because I didn’t have the patience for design; being average was not acceptable for me, and my love was construction. I loved the fast pace, action and being outdoors. It took the knowledge of architecture and my construction experience to realize that construction was for me.
In 1985 and 1986 I worked for Jarodwin, a small construction company. I learned a great deal while working for the owner, George Brown. George threw me in the deep end of the pool of construction and said,” swim”. I learned a lot and I learned fast. He was an excellent builder. During this process, I met Otis Bellamy who owned Bellamy Brothers. He would sometimes help George bond his work. We were doing a nice project at Dobbins Air Force base, and unfortunately Mr George Brown passed away, in the early stages of the project. I was the project manager and superintendent. I learned a lot while on that job and realized just how much I still needed to learn about construction. After George Brown passed away, Otis Bellamy asked if I would finish the job. I finished the project, which not only made a few dollars, but also yielded a friendship between Otis Bellamy and me. Mr. Bellamy said he admired the way I stayed on the project and got the job done, when I could have easily left after George’s death. Once the job was done, I still had my dreams, but was saddened by the loss of my friend and boss. My next job was working for Herb Green Sr. and after my bounty hunter experience the time had come for me to start my own business.
The city of Atlanta was about to renovate Underground Atlanta, and this was a big project in 1987. Henry C Beck and Tom Cordy’s firm were JV (joint venture) partners as the general contractors. A few months earlier I had called Otis Bellamy to tell him I was going into business for myself. I got the call that changed my life when Otis Bellamy called me and said, “Dave I never forgot how well you completed the project after George died” and he said he knew I was a man that kept his word and he could trust. Otis asked me to be his JV partner on building the bridge over the MARTA tracks for Underground Atlanta. I tried to sound calm on my answer, but I said yes and probably sounded like little Richard with woooo, yes! The city of Atlanta had a program that requested minority and female businesses get an OPPORTUNITY to work on projects–I must emphasize the word opportunity. It was not a set aside, nor a guarantee for success, nor a promise for work or profit, it just provided an opportunity, and what a person did with that opportunity was up to them. I knew if I wanted to compete in the big leagues one day, I would have to take this opportunity and make the best of it. I know this might sound corny, but from the time I finished at two historically black colleges, I felt I had a responsibility to succeed, show that we are capable and help pave the road for those that would come behind me. I have always admired Jackie Robinson and the Tuskegee Airmen, because they were told what they couldn’t do or be because of their skin color, yet they succeeded against all kind of odds. I’ve always admired the people that marched and fought for equal rights for all people. I thought about my grand mother, the sharecropper, and my grandfather from Belize that worked on a banana boat in 1901 in order to come to America where he knew no one at only 17 years old. I knew I couldn’t let any of those folks down by not working hard, and being the best builder I could be in my life.
C D Moody and Associates did the first project in 1987–it was a company my father incorporated some years earlier, just in case any of his sons decided they wanted to go into business. I used that company in 1987 and became Otis Bellamy’s JV partner. We won the bid for the bridge job for Underground Atlanta. I can’t even describe the joy and fear that I felt when we won and got started. If you look at some of the pictures above you will see this project. We built this project from 8 pm to 4:30 am, so we could work when the MARTA trains stopped running. I learned so much about driving H piles, concrete, setting concrete beams over hot electrical rapid transit railroad tracks, metal decking, and how to treat people that worked with you. I was on the site every night. People were shocked I was on the project every night throughout the project. I wore my jeans, boots and hardhat and got quite dirty with concrete and dust daily. I wanted to learn as much as I could and show I was in this for real, not to just get a check and say I was in business. I met some great people, like Joe Martin, Wilford Ray, Susan Ross, the Beck and Cordy construction team, and a host of subcontractors. Turner Associates was the architect. I was too broke and naive to realize just how much of a risk I was taking going into business for myself. The project was a success, Otis Bellamy treated me fairly and I made a few dollars. I decided then, that since bonding would be required (and my dad knew nothing about construction and it wouldn’t be fair for him and my mom to put everything they had earned at risk for bonding,) that I would start C D Moody Construction.
It was April 1, 1988, April fool’s day; C D Moody Construction Company was born. I figure what greater holiday to start, April fool’s day. I thought I was probably being a fool thinking I could actually make it. I had never been a high-ranking officer in a company, no business school training, very little money, and going into a tough business. I was up for the challenge, I had nothing to lose in reality, and I had my knowledge, honesty, hard work ethics and a wife that was behind me 100%. Having a spouse that is 100% behind you is critical. A spouse has to be 100% with you, if not, it makes it very difficult to make it; it is hard enough building a business and if you add the stress of an unhappy spouse, you have a real problem. I am blessed with a wife who was not, and still to this day, is not materialistic which makes life very simple for me and as well as building a business.
The construction team at Underground was very impressed with my work ethic and decided to let me bid on my own work in April 1988. The first project I won was a $88,000 project. The moment I signed my contract and submitted my performance and payment bond, I was officially in business with no turning back. I was the estimator, project manger and superintendent. My wife and I had signed the papers with the bonding company and they now owned us. (Heck, there was nothing to own, everything had a loan balance) I was in business and scared to death of losing the little we had in life, or failing and letting people down. Since I can remember I have always prayed, but I think in 1988, God was like, I got the message, go for it.
My first job in 1988 was driving piles and concrete pile caps. Berkel was the piling driving sub and I still use them today. I hired my first employees to do the concrete. We did it and finished on time and made about $6,000. That was big money to us. Our first office was our bedroom and my middle brother Corey did the accounting. He was a new CPA and one of the best accountants I know in construction. We won a few more projects in 1988 and did around $250,000 is sales, and made a little money. We were doing good work and we were building a good reputation as an up and coming company. I had a used red Chevy S-10 pickup, and wore all the hats in the company. Karla worked with me for 6 months, but I told her I was going to be the boss one place and since I am not the boss at home, I would be the boss at work. We decided it would be better if she found a new career. So in 1988 Karla went to nursing school to become a registered nurse. So now we have a 3 and 2 year running around the house, trying to build a start up business, and Karla going to nursing school. It was a mad a house but with God’s blessings we made it through 1988.
I will forever be grateful to a lot a people that helped me, believed in me and gave me a chance. I will forever be grateful to the city of Atlanta, the business community of Atlanta, Bellamy Brothers, Henry C Beck/Tom Cordy joint venture.
It is my belief only in the city of Atlanta and this great country of America, can one achieve unbelievable dreams. I know when we read and listen to the media, everything seems bad, but I am here to tell you, there are some great people in this city and country that enjoy helping and seeing others succeed in life. If we are willing to do our part, we can overcome so many things in life with love in our lives and our faith in God and that desire to see it through.
See you next week, and keep going for your dreams and remember to smile.