Honoring our founder

Dale Koontz passed away August 6, 2019

My dad was not one for flowery speeches.  He was definitely not a man of many words.  In 2013, we were preparing for the 40th anniversary of Dale Koontz Builder, and my dad sat down to be interviewed for a video. At one point he summarized a simple formula for his business this way: “We’re easy to communicate with, we’re fair in our pricing and we strive to do the very best possible job we can do.  If you do (those) things and just treat people right, it’s all gonna work out”

As I reflect upon my dad’s life, this little video clip keeps playing over and over in my mind.  I think it’s a great summary of him - not only in how he conducted business, but also in how he lived his whole life.

First of all, I think it’s important to understand that my dad’s business was NOT his life.  Certainly it was important to him and meaningful. And his success in business provided him with the opportunities to do many other things that he loved.  But my dad knew that the truly important things in life are not things at all - they are the people and the relationships we build; especially the relationship we build with Jesus.

But those words rolled off his tongue that day - and I’m fairly certain he had never rehearsed them.  They came to him because that’s just who he was.

“We’re easy to communicate with” - notice he says “we”.  From the first day, his business was a team. Dale, Donna and Dave.  And 40 years later “we” included Tim and Scott and a dozen other folks.  My dad was not afraid to take credit for a job well done, but he did not seek the spotlight; he also knew that you had to have partners to help get things done.  And talk about easy to communicate with. My dad could talk to anyone. He was comfortable talking to the lowest man on the ladder, or to the business owner or Doctor that he was going to build a house for.  Unpretentious, easygoing and friendly - that’s Dale. People loved to talk to Dale, and I think it’s because he made us all laugh, or made us all feel that things would be alright.

Fair.  My dad had a reputation for fairness.  He was always taking the long view - he knew that the best way to be in business for a long time, or to maintain a long term relationship was to be fair.  He could get upset if he thought he was not being treated fairly - but he would treat you right. It was the right way to live, and you could count on my dad to treat you fairly.

And then he said, “we strive to do the very best possible job we can do”.  This was not just a business philosophy for my dad. He wanted every house to be the best it could be; but he also wanted to live his life to be the “best possible” too.  He wasn’t going to waste his day sitting around. He wasn’t going to waste time in pointless activity - unless you think golf is pointless. There was always a house to be built, a ball game to be played or coached or watched, a grandchild to check on, a bottle of wine to drink, a restaurant to visit or a new golf course to play.  Dad was not one to sit by and watch the world pass him - he wanted to live each day to the fullest.  

In the video he kind of shrugs his shoulders and closes that clip by saying “if you do them things and just treat people right, it’s all gonna work out”.  In the last 10 years of his life, I can’t tell you how many times I visited with my dad, whether in Quincy or in Florida, where we would talk about how things had “worked out” for him.  He would shake his head - almost in disbelief - that this simple farm kid from Columbus, IL had been so blessed. He had a wife and family that he loved, he had passed on 1 successful business to his sons (and now to a grandson) and was enjoying the fruits of his labor through a 2nd successful business (the property business).  He had friends and activities that he loved and the health to enjoy it all. He really saw all these things as blessings from the hand of God. And he was truly grateful for it.

He lived a wonderful, generous life.  And on Tuesday morning August 6, 2019, God said to him “well done, my good and faithful servant”