Most little boys play with building blocks at one point or another, but Brian Daniel wasn't just playing - he was getting practice.
As the grandson of Carroll Daniel, who founded Carroll Daniel Construction Co. in Gainesville in 1946, he always knew what his future would hold.
"My parents never pushed anything on me, but I always knew that I wanted to be in the construction business," said Daniel, now president of his family's company.
After earning an undergraduate degree from Auburn University, Daniel moved to Atlanta to pursue a master's degree and to begin working with a commercial construction company.
In 2002, he moved back home and joined the family business. He worked under his father, Ed Daniel, who became the company's president in 1969 after his father, Carroll Daniel, died.
A year later, after his own father's death, Brian Daniel became the new president in 2003, at the age of 28.
For a man who admits not knowing much at first about running a business, his leadership skills have not only blossomed, they've been recognized statewide.
Georgia Trend Magazine recently selected the 35-year-old as one of its "40 under 40" for 2010.
The honorees were selected from a statewide pool of nominations and are said to represent "Georgia's best and brightest young achievers in business, government, politics, education and nonprofits."
"It's an honor to be selected," Daniel said. "I was surprised but definitely honored."
Daniel attributes much of his success to his team, some of whom worked for the company's founder.
"We really have the best group of people working here. There are people that have been working here my whole life," Daniel said.
"One guy has been here for 53 years, and there's an estimator that has been here for 30 years. We're more than (business associates), we're a family here for sure."
In addition to taking a turn at running the family business, Daniel continues to follow in his father's and grandfather's footsteps in other ways, too.
"Both my father and grandfather believed in being a part of the community," Daniel said. "Getting involved in the community and giving back are things that were ingrained in me, and I hope to carry on that tradition."
He's also continuing his family's award-winning history.
In 1989, the Georgia branch of the Associated General Contractors of America created the Build Georgia Awards to recognize "outstanding performances on some of Georgia's most remarkable projects."
Daniel's father won an award that inaugural year for the company's work on Chateau Elan in Braselton.
Since that time, Daniel has received two of the awards, once in 2009 for the company's work on Lakeview Academy and again this year for work on Chesney Elementary School in Gwinnett County.
For the Gwinnett project, Daniel's team was able to complete the project nearly a year ahead of schedule.
With any luck, Daniel said he hopes to hand over his office keys to his children, 5-year-old Stuart Daniel and 3-year-old Callie Daniel, some day.
"Things have really come full circle. When I was in high school, we built Grace Episcopal Church and now my kids go to preschool there," he said.
"Just like my parents didn't force anything on me, I'm not pushing my children to join the family business. But it would be nice to hang around long enough to retire and hand things over to them."
Should they decide to take over the reigns, the corner office isn't guaranteed. Just as his grandfather and father passed on the tradition of carving your own way in the world, Daniel hopes to do the same with his offspring.
"I hope that they both do whatever they enjoy in life," Daniel said. "But if they want to join the business, they'll have to earn their way, just like everyone else."