Theresa Daytner makes sure something is always happening—a constant flow of jobs. In any given month, her company, Daytner Construction Group, is bidding on two to 10 contracts and working on five to 15 projects.
“Either starting, ending, or in between. There’s an overlap,” says Daytner, president and CEO of the privately owned construction management and commercial construction company.
Daytner Construction Group is Daytner’s third business. A native of Greenbelt, she was still an undergraduate accounting major at the University of Maryland when she opened her first venture, a residential roofing company, in 1988. In 1991, she closed it and opened a solo CPA practice.
In 2001, Daytner took a break from the business world for the birth of twin sons and the needs of two elderly parents.
Her hiatus didn’t last long.
In 2003, she opened Daytner Construction Group, pooling her and her husband, Allen Daytner’s, experience. Now a vice president in the company, he’d previously been a project manager for a major corporation.
“I felt there was a need for specialization in construction,” says Daytner, 48, the mother of six, a lively woman with blue eyes and dark hair pulled into a bun.
Her company offers two services: construction management and general contracting. In the former, the company acts as the independent fiduciary agent for the property-owner, overseeing construction and making sure the money is spent as intended. In the latter, it acts as the builder responsible for the project.
When Daytner first opened her company, all of its contracts were in construction management for projects that ranged from $6 million to $86 million. She credits the Rockville-based James G. Davis Construction Corporation for mentoring her business and helping it grow.
In the past three years, however, thanks to the slowing economy, the industry has changed, and Daytner has transitioned with it. Now, 80 percent of her business is general contracting, and all of that is as a federal contractor.
“That’s where the opportunities are,” says Daytner, whose staff of 13 operates out of a sleek office in downtown Mount Airy.
The federal focus makes a difference in the way contracts are structured, but not in the actual work that’s performed. Daytner bids on federal contracts that are awarded based on best value, an advantage for a small, high-quality company like hers.
“We don’t compete on awards based on lowest price,” she says.
Her federal projects have ranged from a $50,000 tenant renovation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, to the $7.6 million construction of a new electrical substation at the National Institutes of Health’s Bethesda campus.
In 2011, Inc. ranked Daytner Construction Group No. 269 in a listing of the top 5,000 construction companies in the U.S., citing revenues of almost $18 million and a three-year growth rate of 1,194 percent.
Because of Daytner’s Latino heritage, the company is state-certified as both a minority-owned business (MBE) and a women-business enterprise (WBE). The state has a goal for inclusion of MBEs in state contracts, but not for WBEs.
The federal government, on the other hand, has a goal for inclusion of WBEs in its contracts, and that, says Karen Barbour, president of the Barbour Group, a security bond and commercial insurance company that counts Daytner as a client, has worked in Daytner’s favor.
Still, given the competitive environment, there are other reasons for the company’s success, not the least of which is Daytner’s facility with numbers, her husband’s experience with large companies, and their reputation in the industry, says Barbour.
“She is seen as a leader by the state, by the chamber of commerce. She’s won so many awards,” adds Barbour, mentioning, among the many articles about Daytner in the business media, a 2010 Forbes piece that named her one of the 10 most powerful women entrepreneurs in the country.