Born and raised in Pompano Beach, FL, Rachel Dailey, Owner of RTD Construction and Services, joined the Navy immediately after high school. Following in the footsteps of her two older siblings, one in the Navy and the other in the Marines, Dailey was eager to serve her country and acquire a skill set highly coveted by employers. After four years of active duty, she spent seven years as a secondary educator before launching her first business.
“I was ready to do my own thing,” Dailey said. “I started a business called Your Financial Solutions. We focused on IRS tax representation. I already knew how to do taxes; I just needed to pass three exams, administered by the IRS, in order to operate the business. Along the way, I learned the ins and outs of auditing small businesses. I was also introduced to a client who was a General Contractor. I did project management for them, but more important than that, I was introduced to General Contracting.”
Dailey immediately recognized General Contracting as an opportunity to stand out in a male dominated industry. Also, as a Service Disabled Veteran, she knew she had the skills to compete.
“In the military, you learn to adapt and adjust very well,” she said. “I’ve always being able to research and navigate stuff, but those skills were enhanced in the Navy. The military also teaches attention to detail. We do our groundwork first and the foundation is already built before we get started. Before I launched RTD Construction and Services, I made sure the market would support what I wanted to do.”
Dailey launched her business in January 2016. By May of that year, she passed her General Contractor’s exam and by September, she landed her first federal contract.
“The contract was to renovate a disabled veteran’s bathroom in order to make it ADA compliant,” Dailey said. “That single contract led to eight other similar projects and slowly but surely the business started to grow.”
In a male dominated industry, Dailey admits that half the battle is proving she’s capable of delivering a product that’s on par with her male counterparts. She’s currently in the growth stage and despite a shortage of quality laborers and constraints on what jobs she can bid on, she’s determined to press on.
“In this industry, your liability bonding only allows you to bid on jobs that are no more than two and a half times the size of your largest previous job,” she said. “It basically forces you to gradually work your way up to multi-million dollar jobs.”
Dailey continued, “To address the shortage of quality labor, I’ve taken advantage of opportunities to speak with high schoolers about entering the trades. The pay is good and most students land jobs without any student debt. I’m a big advocate of making sure the next generation helps to bridge the gap between the current shortage and the need for quality labor.”
In 2018, Dailey participated in Broward County’s TeamUP Mentor-Protégé Program, created by the Office of Economic and Small Business Development. The goal of the program is to build overall capacity in Broward County's economy by growing local small businesses through targeted and strategic technical assistance, leading to increased employment and local investment. From this program, Dailey earned her County Business Enterprise certificate, which allows her business to work with prime contractors. As a result, she landed a large project with the Department of Transportation doing Striping and Thermos Plastic work.
“We’re up to about 10 projects per month,” Dailey said. “Through conferences, meetings with prime contractors and by working on our brand consistency and revamping our website, the business is seeing steady growth.”
As a mother of four boys and one girl – a 5 month old – Dailey is busier than you or I could likely ever imagine. Nevertheless, she’s passionate about her craft and motivated by the end result.
“I really enjoy when our clients see the final product,” she said. “I also enjoy working with our youth. I love changing their mindset and showing them that there are opportunities to make money and be your own boss. Part of our future goals, in addition to growing RTD Construction and Services, is to launch RTD Construction School. We’re targeting an August 2020 launch. The students will learn valuable skills, have opportunities for financial aid, be able to complete an externship and eventually have an opportunity to receive dual enrollment credit. I’m very excited about this. It’s my baby!”
What advice does Dailey have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “I live by a quote that says, ‘Vision without execution is hallucination’,” she said. “Put a plan in place and execute on that plan, even if it’s something little every day. Also, put your faith over your fear, identify available resources, find a mentor and just do it. Lastly, be ready for the yes. It will come.”