Dave Dahl - Employee Highlight

Interview with Dave Dahl, Project Manager

Q: What project are you currently working on?
A: Chinatown! Portland Chinatown History Museum. 

Q: Describe your job using a movie title.
A: Jurassic Park. 

Q: What’s one thing that keeps you coming to work each morning?
A: Ping pong

Q: Imagine that you’ve been given a special telephone that only allows you to make a single phone call to yourself at the age of 16. You’re not allowed to tell yourself who you are and the call only lasts for 15 seconds. What do you say to yourself?
A: I think most people would want to think about what they would do differently…which is not where I would go. (Pause) My advice would be… “Be simplistic in your approach with other people.” This reminds me of Australian culture, they have a very simple way of talking to each other and laying stuff out. I think Americans sometimes complicate things by trying to sound too smart. I think in life I’ve missed some opportunities because I didn’t want to embarrass myself. To me, money isn’t the important thing so I’m not gonna tell myself to invest in something profitable like Google or something, I think missed opportunities are worth more than that. 

Q: Who is someone you look up to?
A: My parents. I think it’s my father’s love of humanism, I’ve always respected the way he looks at life. 

Q: Imagine that you’re on death row, what is your last meal?
A: Lobster.
Q: From any particular spot?
A: Well lobster from the Atlantic. Conch fritters, key lime pie, and lobster.

Q: What was your first job and how old were you?
A: I was ten years old working for my father at his glass company, Dahl and Sons Glass. I ran the screen department. I estimated screens, bid on screens, built the screens, installed and collected on them. I was the youngest of four boys I stayed in the screen department a lot longer than my older brothers did. Nobody else liked it. But that helped me develop a sense of each project from start to finish. I couldn’t drive, but I had all these flyers for the business. So I would go through developments on my skateboard, dropping off flyers that offered 10% off and read, “Call me for a free quote.” My dad would drop me off with stacks of flyers and my skateboard, I would hit a development, then he’d pick me up two hours later and I would start getting calls. I would take each person’s address down, visit them, take their screen measurements, and give quotes.

Q: It’s interesting comparing something you did when you were ten with what you do now.
A: I worked at a pizza parlor before that. That’s when I realized that I enjoyed working for a family company, a company that knows your name. I was a number there, I wasn’t a person. You know? I did everything there, I did the dishes, I got on the line, I worked my way up. But I had to leave, that just wasn’t me. I’m not a corporate guy. 

Q: If you could retire today, what would tomorrow look like?
A: I would be above ten thousand feet, a layer of clouds below me, at the summit of Mt. Hood with my arms in the air. Probably with no clothes on. 

Q: Beatles or Elvis?
A: Elvis because my parents saw him live once around a campfire.
Q: Really?! Around a campfire? How did that happen?
A: He was in the service in Glendale, Arizona. They saw him in this tiny little venue with a campfire… that’s all I can remember.

Q: Thanks for taking the time, Dave. 
A: No problem. 

Categories: Employee Highlight