We had the good fortune of connecting with Duane Daum and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Duane, what is the most important factor behind your success?
One of the most important factors behind my success, in my opinion, is that I love drawing and building homes. I get a kick out of building them and even driving by them after they’re built. To me, they are in effect a semi-permanent memorial of my life. I take pride in my homes and love the fact that my customers are equally enthused about them. Many of my new customers are referrals from previous customers.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
From day one, once we got going, I considered my home design an art-form, in fact my slogan for Inca Construction was “Excellence by Design” and later in Phoenix my slogan for The Daum Company & later Awesome Homes was and is “the Art of Building”. Inca Construction was active in building homes in Las Vegas from 1976 to 1990 at which point my family and I moved to Phoenix in part to get an AZ contractors license and build a sizable apartment complex in Bullhead City, AZ across the Colorado River from busy Laughlin, NV and it’s dozen hotel-casinos. At the same time we started building homes in the Valley of the Sun (Metro-Phoenix) and we built some gems. I’ve included photos for your perusal.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
As you know, living in a popular tourist destination, we sometimes get visits from out of state friends and or extended family. If they’re only going to be here a day or so we take them to one of our favorite local restaurants such as our favorite Mexican restaurante, POPO’s, at 59th Av & Bell Rd, or Phoenix City Bar & Grill on 16th St & Bethany Home, or for something special, we’re likely to show them El Charro, fine dining on Lincoln Road in the heart of Paradise Valley and dine on their patio. If we’re fortunate enough to have our visitors for longer, time permitting, we may plan a visit to one or more of our favorite parts of Arizona, places like Sedona, Jerome, Prescott and our favorite, Bisbee.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve always had an artistic touch—not great, but better than average. I guess that’s why my elementary school art teacher, Ms. Kinsella, enrolled me in the Raymond Fund weekly art lectures at the Art Institute in downtown Chicago. These weren’t hands on art classes, rather these were a series of lectures in a large assembly hall. At the end of each lecture we were assigned what to paint at home and turn in at the next lecture while picking up our graded painting from the previous session. Whether you continued in the next semester depended on the grades you got. I was lucky enough to get sufficient grades to continue until high school when I was no longer eligible. However, in high school was exposed to another form of art–Mechanical Drawing.
I suppose I should mention that we lived in an apartment and my mother longed for us to have her own home. In Chicago the Sunday paper had home section which contained a map in which various model homes appear on a map. On many a Sunday she would lug my younger sister and I to several of the closer located model homes and I must admit I did enjoy these Sunday sojourns.
Fast forward 17 years: we’d relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada where my Mom and Dad were finally able to get a home. As for me I went to work for a small telephone company—Central Telephone Company.
I had started as, guess what? A draftsman and in 14 years I’d worked my way up from a draftsman to a right of way agent, then an engineer, then an underground engineer, then an Architects and Building engineer.
In the last few years that I worked at Centel, a fellow employee, Gary Drager moved in with me. Within a few months he started dating a woman that worked there and within a few more months they became engaged and got married.
Fast forward a few more months and they bought an acre building lot through me, (At that time I worked real estate on the side) and wanted to build a home. My real estate Broker knew a builder, so he put them and his builder friend together and he had plans drawn to their specs and built a home for them.
Admittedly, the home was pretty average, however, I managed to get a set of his plans and I studied them. Once I understood how they worked, I decided to draw a set of plans for a home of my own which eventually I built and it came out great. So great that the framer that built it decided to build one like it and one of my best friends wanted one like it. I was hooked, After I designed a small tract of homes for a third party, I looked into getting a contractors license myself, took on a knowledgeable partner, and a couple months later, Inca Construction was born.