How Dale’s Became a Father Daughter Venture
We were recently approached by a writer with the Statesman Journal, interested in doing a special feature for Father’s Day on local businesses with a parent/child dynamic. It was even more of an honor to learn that we were recommended for the article by a valued colleague with the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, Jason Brandt; CEO.
My father and I are very proud of the progress we have made working together in this business he built so many years ago, we jumped at the opportunity to participate. I still enjoy hearing the story of how my father started out in this business, it is exciting to now share in that and talk about how we have grown and continue to evolve and move forward in the growing market each day.
Working with a parent has it’s up’s and downs, it’s not all sunny days and rainbows. That being said, I do believe we have learned to do it well. We maintain a healthy father/daughter relationship, and respect each other on the job. My father continues to guide me while giving me my own freedom and space to grow. I won’t learn it all in a day, a year, or even a decade, but with his guidance I see endless possibilities in the future of this business, and the industry. Things are changing at lightening speed, I consider myself one of the lucky few to have found my passion and be able to show up for work each day loving what I do; and I am thankful my dad took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to find the passion I never knew I had.
Read more about how Dale and I work together in the business and together in the Statesman Journal’s Father’s Day feature article:
Dale’s Remodeling sprung up from a challenge by Dale Van Lydegraf’s father. After returning from serving in the U.S. Army and doing charitable work in Alaska, Dale’s father tasked him what seemed like a Herculean task: Draw up plans for his parents’ retirement home. Dale had never drawn house plans before, but he figured it out. Then came the next task: build the parents’ home, which was something Dale had definitely never done before. However, once again he figured it out like his father instructed. And from that experience Dale’s Remodeling was created specializing in remodeling and light commercial projects such as schools, churches, and small businesses. Today, Dale works hand in hand with his daughter Kayla Van Lydegraf running the company he started in 1978.
Question: Kayla, why were you drawn to follow your father into the family business?
Kayla: Honestly, I never expected or had plans to work in my father’s business. I had life dreams and interests in other areas and never explored the possibility of the two connecting. With time, my dad gave me new opportunities to explore and use my talents in a way I had never considered before. Everything quickly fell into place and now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I fell in love with every aspect of the industry, grew a new passion for the business I’ve watched grow and evolve throughout my life, enjoyed watching my father interact with people in a way I’d never seen before, seeing clients evolve into longtime friends. Once I had a closer view inside the business, now as an adult, I just enjoyed working by his side, learning from him and was so intrigued by it all.
Q: What’s the most difficult part of working together?
Kayla: Personally, it can be a challenge to build my own reputation outside of being my father’s daughter. Proving myself to colleagues, industry professionals, etc. as more than the “little princess” with everything handed to her. Especially because my whole life he never handed me or my siblings anything and taught us to work for what we want, now being no exception, I have worked twice as hard to prove myself. Building my own name for myself, expressing my own views, opinions, building my own relationships. It’s taken time but I feel (I hope!) I am finally beginning to cross that bridge.
Dale: From my part – discipline. Also capturing the vision of what I think the business could be doing now and in the future. I don’t think I’ve been hard on Kayla except to hold her accountable. I think I’ve been careful to not be too demanding and yet be firm with what is needed and wanted and expected of an employee / daughter.
Q: What’s been something you learned about one another while working together?
Kayla: Maybe it’s partly due to him guiding me, but we have learned we have the same vision for this business. From the smallest details to big decisions, we’re almost always on the same page. We have more in common than I ever realized growing up, because I see him as more than just my dad now. It’s been very rewarding also to watch as he has begun to see and treat me as more than a daughter, gain more respect for me as an adult, professional, colleague as if I were anyone else in this position.
Dale: I knew Kayla was creative as I saw this come out in art projects in school, but I didn’t know just how professional and creative she could become so quickly. Graphic design, color and blending of ideas are an area that she has a passion for and excels in daily related to her marketing and advertising job. She has many jobs, but this department in the company – well, she owns it and it shows in all the excellent design of media, fliers, mailers, signage, and social media that she produces.
I’m amazed at how much freedom of expression she can showcase without my direction.She will say, ‘Well let me think about it for a little bit to see what I can figure out.’
When I was getting started my dad would always tell me ” you’ll figure it out.” This has now passed on to our relationship and Kayla will usually say, “I’ll figure it out.”
I love that about her. I think nothing is greater than teaching your children to be better than you are!
Q: What’s been the most rewarding part of working together?
Kayla:I think it’s brought us a lot closer and forced us to see each other in a new light … every angle good and bad, and improved our relationship. We enjoy working together, we have fun, we laugh a lot, and we bounce ideas off each other and celebrate the wins.
It’s funny. I recall early on when I would just roll my eyes like a daughter does, at things he would do or say. Now that I’ve matured and am given more responsibility I find myself doing and saying the same things. So not only am I sounding like my father, but my boss, too. I am still deciding if that’s a good or a bad thing!
Dale: I think getting to see Kayla’s cute little face every day, the smiles, the wins, loses, struggles, frustrations and meeting deadlines …basically the “in the moment interactions” and to have quality moments with Kayla on a personal and professional level day to day is the most rewarding to me. We don’t always agree but we do have respect for each other.
More often than not we find ourselves strategizing for the future direction of the company for the next 1, 3, 5 years. We believe in making a plan and working that plan. So far it’s working out favorably.
Q: How would describe each other’s management style? If your styles are different, how so?
Kayla: Dale has what we call his catch phrase: “I’ve been doing this for 37 years…,” because he likes to remind us of it so often. Dale makes quick decisions because he does have so many years of experience and knowledge to draw from. I feel I bring a different perspective, being a young female in a male dominated industry I bring a whole new outlook on things. I’m more likely to collect information and facts and usually try to look at things from all sides.
Dale: I think Kayla becomes more an advocate for the employees, clients and trade contractors whereas I am quicker to make a decisions or opinions quickly and want immediate satisfaction or answers for gratification.
Entrepreneurs usually are viewed as aggressive, pushy and demanding. When we really are just trying to move fast, make a decision and go on to the next issue or project. We really don’t mean to be offensive or non-caring.
Overall, I live my life by a saying that is written out on a wall above my sink that reminds me every day and it reads:
“Life is not about the destination it’s about the journey.”