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After 75 years of building, what Carroll Daniel Construction says is key to its success
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Carroll Daniel Construction President Brian Daniel tours the company's headquarters Sept. 25, 2019, stopping by a wall that showcases the company's history. - photo by Scott Rogers

Brian Daniel said it’s relationships that have kept Carroll Daniel Construction going for 75 years.

The company was founded in Gainesville in 1946 by Daniel’s grandfather, Carroll Ephraim Daniel, who leveraged the skills he learned during World War II as a major in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Daniel said the company owes much of its success to Gainesville and the surrounding area. He has served as the president and CEO since 2003, after his father, Carroll Edmondson “Ed” Daniel, died.  

“This community has been great to Carroll Daniel Construction for 75 years,” Daniel said. “And we say quite often that if our business was located on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta or New York or Dallas, we would just be a medium-sized contractor in a big city, but we're from a community that has supported us, and it's been a huge part of our success over the years.” 

Carroll Daniel Construction celebrated its 75th anniversary earlier this month and compiled a nearly 200-page history to mark the occasion. 

“We’re very grateful to this community we call home,” he said. “We have offices in other places, but Northeast Georgia is definitely home for Carroll Daniel Construction.” 

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Brian Daniel

Gainesville has seen enormous growth and development in recent years, and while the company is often at the center of many of the projects, currently including Gainesville Renaissance on the square and a new parking deck near the square, Daniel is quick to cast a broad spotlight during this “exciting time.” 

“We’re just part of that growth and we're a facilitator for the other businesses and entities in our area,” Daniel said. “So I don't know that we’re the story. I think we just simply play a role in the story.” 

More important than million-dollar construction marvels are the people behind them, Daniel said. Carroll Daniel Construction is as much a construction business as it is a “people business,” he said. “It’s really all about people at the end of the day, so that's been our secret.” 

In the early years of the business, Carroll Daniel took advantage of the postwar construction boom, building schools, churches and factories across the city. He broke ground on the New Holland Baptist Church in 1950, for instance, and built Lula Elementary a year later. 

As the business expanded, Carroll Daniel opened a satellite office in Sanford, Florida, in 1963. Throughout that decade, he built the Brasstown Bald Mountain Observatory, the original Lanier Technical College campus and performed concrete work on one of NASA’s launch pads at Cape Canaveral, Florida. 

In July 1969, Carroll Daniel died of a stroke unexpectedly. His son, Carroll Edmondson “Ed” Daniel, took over the business at the age of 23. In the following decades, he built the Road Atlanta racetrack, Lyman Hall Elementary, restored Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium, originally built in 1897, and built the 16th-century-style Chateau Elan Winery. 

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Carroll Edmondson "Ed" Daniel, pictured circa 1970s. Courtesy Carroll Daniel Construction.

The company faced a crossroads at the start of the new millennium. Revenues were falling, competition was stiff, and in March of 2003, Ed Daniel died after 34 years as president.

Brian Daniel took the helm and expanded the business by bidding for competitive contracts with K-12 schools beyond Gainesville. Daniel said a “pivotal moment” came when they won the bid for the Ivy Creek Elementary School project in Gwinnett. He built on that success by winning bids for other K-12 schools throughout North Georgia. By 2008, the company had recorded $78 million in revenue and more than doubled its workforce in less than a decade. 

Then the Great Recession hit and revenues plummeted. 

“Those were the leanest of times,” Brian Daniel recalled. “When the bid work dried up, we were able to survive because of the type of relationship business my father had cultivated — loyal client partners with challenging, often small but frequent projects with negotiated contracts.” 

“This was perhaps my most important lesson learned from the dark days of the Great Recession,” he said. “Construction is a relationship business.” 

But by 2014, Carroll Daniel Construction would reach new heights, recording an annual review of more than $100 million for the first time. And by that point, it had also become a big player in K-12 construction throughout Georgia. 

When asked what the next 75 years will hold, Brain Daniel said, “I’ve been asked that a lot over the past year. We do a lot of planning and we're focusing on next three or four. But we're interested in continued growth. I think our people get a lot of energy out of growing the business. … I think the future's bright, and we're excited about it.” 

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The Carroll Daniel Construction headquarters overlooks Jesse Jewell Parkway in downtown Gainesville on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. - photo by Scott Rogers