- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Kyle Gahm
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
In 2008 Dori and Jeff Bergdorf founded DTL Builders (DTL) as a small but growing general contractor in Riverton, Utah. The husband and wife duo had previously worked in the industry; Jeff has 25 years of experience as a commercial contractor and construction manager, while Dori has experience as a steel fabricator.
“When we moved to Utah, I raised the kids for a while,” Dori recounts. “My youngest just entered college, so a few years ago we decided that with the kids old enough to drive, I wanted to do something else. It seemed like a good time to jump in, so we did. Jeff has the practical field experience, and I have the office and personnel experience. We do it together; along with an amazing group of team members we consider family.”
Dori is sole owner of the business, making DTL a federally recognized and certified woman-owned business. Her Spanish Basque heritage -a small region straddling the border of France and Spain – also qualifies the business as minority-owned.
Based in Riverton, Utah, DTL’s crews work around the northwest and Intermountain regions with licenses in Utah, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada, as well as Alaska and Hawaii. DTL serves the commercial market, satisfying a range of customers, including grocery stores, restaurants, retailers, developers and occasionally schools and hospitals.
Retail projects are the focus of DTL’s operations with emphasis on the grocery and restaurant markets. Therefore, the company has attracted repeat customers, including WinCo Foods (WinCo) and Darden Restaurants, which include Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Longhorn Steakhouse, among others.
“Over the last couple of years we have completed 14 projects for Darden and 33 for WinCo and worked with Whole Foods, JC Penney, Fred Meyer and QFC on various endeavors,” Dori explains.
WinCo Foods has become one of DTL’s largest repeat customers. “We completed our first project for WinCo about four years ago,” Dori elaborates. “We initially worked on their stores as a subcontractor performing fixture work and equipment installation, which led to an opportunity to act as general contractor on two of their ground-up projects. Those have been our most challenging projects to-date.”
Dori goes on to explain that DTL’s project scope varies from small projects to ground-up. “I like to think we have the best fixture crews out there,” she continues. “WinCo has very high standards and as a chain, they know exactly what they want. Consequently, we spend a lot of our time crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s to ensure the client gets exactly what they want, the first time.”
On large projects, DTL typically works with a network of reliable local subcontractors. “Occasionally we sub everything out, but often we self-perform at least part of a contract,” Dori notes. “We do some interior carpentry and all fixture and equipment installation in-house. When we travel, we try to work with local contractors, going through the bidding process and by the numbers as long as the crews are qualified.”
Growing through the Recession
Of course, 2008 was a difficult year for most contractors. Between the housing bubble burst and a major decline in commercial construction spending, it was tough enough as an established construction business, much less a new one.
“It’s been a group effort,” Dori explains. “As a small company, we think of ourselves as more of a family. Since we all work well together and care about each other’s personal lives, we have built a strong community here. Along with loyal customers, we have vendors, bonding and insurance agents and even other contractors who jumped on board and stood behind us when all we had was our reputation in the industry. We have great people all-around and that’s what keeps us growing.”
The team celebrated five years of continued success in October 2013, with DTL’s plan for the future being to remain strong and keep growing. “We have just hired some new people and are considering breaking into government contracting,” Dori says. “Although we’ve completed some government work in the past, it’s not something in which we are well established. Some of our new hires have extensive experience in that sector so there may be a lot of opportunity for growth here.”
No matter where the company goes, Dori and Jeff are committed to the continued success of clients, employees and themselves. “We have a lot of loyalty,” Dori explains. “We feel responsible to all of the people who took a chance on us, even though we couldn’t guarantee success when we started out. We want to be able to continue to offer our employees lifetime careers and therefore feel obligated to make this business successful.” Dori continues to stand by her team just as they have stood by her business. As DTL Builders moves forward to new endeavors, the team remains dedicated to professionalism, innovation and quality.
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