It’s a mad house: year of 1989

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Thanks for coming back for this week’s blog post. It is now 1989,I just completed my first year in business. We have a 4 year old and almost 3 year old running around the house and my wife is now in nursing school to become a registered nurse. It is a mad house. As I reflect back I must confess, often I was stressed, tired and feeling like how can we make it through all of this craziness. We had very little money, I don’t know what I am doing running a company, I am looking for new work, wearing all the hats in the company and being a cheerleader for my wife in nursing school. I am sure God was holding our hands and walking us through life.

I often reflect on how often I messed up my daughter’s hair in the morning. Often Karla had to be at school early or at a hospital early for training, so I was the one responsible for getting the kids ready and to nursery school. I can’t tell you how many times when we got to the school, my daughter’s teacher would say, I see your daddy did your hair again, I also can’t tell you how many times she had curling iron burns or the worst braids on earth, but my daughter would just hug me and say that’s ok daddy. I do know this, she became a hair expert at an early age and I know it because of my poor hair combing skills. My son was easy to get ready. They were great kids because most of the time they seem to understand this was a critical time for us professionally so they didn’t give me too much trouble in the morning.

I was also my wife’s patient for class. She often needed a human guinea pig, and it was me until the day she needed to give me a shot, I said that is it, I am done. She had to use an orange for the shots. It was a crazy year for her in nursing school, but she did well in school.

I moved my office from the house bedroom to a 12 x 12 office in a building in Lithonia. The only thing in my office was a desk, a chair, and the old fashion answering machine. I also had that old fashion pager that was as big as a brick. I had my calls go to a live answering service so I sounded like I had a secretary. I remember seeing the company name on the door for the first time and sitting at my desk, just day dreaming that I was actually in business for myself. I was so happy, proud and scared all at the same time.

It was a mad house in 1989, but we were having fun seeing if we could make it. I always took time for my family. My kids and wife were always first before my business and still are today. My wife Karla is a special lady and I am very blessed to have her in my life. Karla was putting herself through school before we got married. She had been working since she was 16, and knew how to manage a tight budget. Even today, she tracks every penny spent and at the end of the year she produces an annual spread sheet on how we spent every dollar and how much we spent per line item. That was very critical back in the early years because we had so little money to spend. I was very proud of her for going back to school at the age of 32 to become a nurse. She was scared of failure and that drove her even harder. She was working hard in 1989 to get through school and raise two kids and cheer for me at the same time. We shared cooking duties and other house hold chores. She hates the way I fold clothes and told me to just wash and dry and she will fold. My plan worked. I really know how to fold clothes, I just hate it, so I figured if I don’t fold the way she wants me to, I can get a new chore assigned to me.

The business was doing pretty good. I had picked up two nice projects and later in 1989, I was awarded my first $1,000,000 project as a general contractor. It was Georgia Hall, the original Grady Hospital built in 1891. I also got to work with my first big architect , McAfee architects. I never told him this, but I was so I intimidated by Mr. McAfee. He was experienced, a very serious architect and could have run over me. He was very helpful and nice to me. H J Russell was the JV partner of URS as the program managers. This is when I meet Vic Maloof and Artis Johnson, who ran the project for Grady. Vic and Artis were very helpful along with a number of people I met at Grady. This is when I first met Mr. Russell and got to know him. He always treated me with respect and wanted to see me do well. To show you how small the world is, as a Morehouse college senior, in 1977, I lived in one of Mr. Russell’s apartment buildings called Dogwood II. I tried to get a job from him 1981 when I finished architecture school, but they weren’t hiring. I always tease Egbert Perry that he was told not to hire me because he was afraid I would be smarter than Egbert. We still laugh about that one. Egbert swears it wasn’t him that told him not to hire me. Egbert  has gone on and built a great development company of his own. I have had a great 22 years and counting business and friendship with the Russell family. We never know how roads will cross in life, so always do your best to treat people good in life and pay your rent on time, like I did to Mr. Russell in 1977 when I rented from his company for an apartment.

Now back to the Georgia Hall project. This was a great project to restore such a great building. It had a huge water tank up in the top of the bell tower that we had to cut out in pieces to remove and add an elevator into the  tower. We had to hand dig the ramp going into the basement, and we had some major demo work. They built buildings well back in the 1800’s. The walls were 3 and 4 feet thick in the basement, the beams were huge old wooden beams. The old surgery room was creepy. Whenever I would go in there I would think about surgery back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s being performed in that small room. We had to tuck point the masonry, new roof and completely dig out the basement and renovate the main level and upper floors. I couldn’t believe it, I was really a general contractor. I hired my first superintendent and more carpenters and laborers. I was still the project manager and estimator. I was still part of the job cost, not overhead. This was a great and exciting project we started in late 1989. I was still doing projects as a concrete subcontractor. I also learned in 1989 that not every person will treat you fairly and just. I had a general contractor that I was a subcontractor for on a project, and he owed me $5,000 for a change order.  He had already been paid, for over 5 weeks, by the owner and he kept giving me the run around about paying me. I finally went by his office and said I know that you have been paid and I am not leaving without my check. I got my check in about 15 minutes. In 25 years of business, that is the only time I had to do such a thing to get paid. I also learned and promised I would never play with anyone’s money and I hope I have done a good job keeping that promise.

By the end of 1989, I had revenues of over $1,000,000, had signed and received my first bond for over a $1,000,000 contract. My insurance person John Graham stills handles my insurance and his partner Dick Naylor was my bonding agent. I met them through Mr. Bellamy. I have changed bonding agents, but John Graham has stayed my company construction insurance agent. My brother Corey was still doing my accounting part time and that was a blessing and my company outside auditor was John Matthew CPA, a good Morehouse man.

The year of 1989 was an exciting and exhausting year, a madhouse and we had buckled up for the ride. We made a few dollars and kept putting the money into the company. We still had no fax machine, or using computers much, only for accounting, we still estimated the old fashion way, takeoffs by hand with pencil and paper and an adding machine. I didn’t have a cell phone yet, even though people were carrying the bag cell phones back then.

I still can’t believe I am running a business and still open after 2 years. I am having fun, but still nervous and not knowing what was in store for 1990.

I didn’t have a business plan or any of the things I heard and read about in 1989 from business school people. I made sure I read a lot of books on successful companies, attend seminars on running a business and I am picking peoples brains that are running successful construction companies.

We also started the C D Moody Construction Company Education Foundation in1989. My mother who was an educator ran this foundation. My wife and I decided if we get in the habit of giving when we have very little to give, it will be a habit when we make a few dollars and are able to give more to help others in life. We also believe and still do today, it is a great joy to help others and never expect anything in return.

Last but not least, I pray daily for guidance, patience and I give thanks for my many blessings in my life.

I hope you are enjoying this journey and are excited about going for your dreams or inspiring someone else to go for theirs. Only two things can happen when you try, either you make it or you don’t, but at least you tried.

 See you next week for 1990.

16 thoughts on “It’s a mad house: year of 1989

  1. Much enjoyed your “story” that is testimomy for pursuing dreams and the importance of partnerships, both personal and professional life. The small world aspect of life is real: I moved to Atlanta in 1989 and I remember meeting you at a DeKalb County community development meeting at Maloof Center (I think). I am so pleased to have crossed paths again with you, Karla, Karia and Charles. Keep the blogs coming!

  2. I am enjoying learning more about you, Karla, Karia and Charles, as well as other people around Atlanta. You are making what I know were difficult times sound like so much fun! Enjoying the ride.

  3. Mr. Moody your blog is continuing to encourage me, just as u did while I was at MH and while making my quest in starting my own business. We have somewhat similar experiences from childhood up to building power plants just for the love of construction. I hope to be as successful as you oneday while creating my own path. You will definitely be someone I mention yrs from now that helped me to get where I am,just as u did with the men that helped u along your journey. Thanks!

  4. Your usage of the word “A few dollars” is funny when you reference 1,000,000 contracts. LOL. My pops use to say the same thing and I always found it funny. This has been a very inspiring story so far and as I read I’m already making plans as a entrepreneur. I see how important family, having strong faith, and networking is as you go after your dreams. I have found recently how hard it is to balance going after your dreams and being a supportive family member. How did you find that balance?

  5. How wonderful to be reminded that true success is not handed to anyone. True success comes over time with hardwork, truth to one’s values, loyalty to family and friends, and commitment to giving back. Dave Moody embodies true success- Bravo. Every young person I know should read this and know that the best things in life do not come easily.

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