April 10, 2017

Connie Dohn, Dohn Construction

2017 Women of Distinction - Real Estate, Construction and Development

When Connie Dohn and her husband started Dohn Construction, they were clear about the kind of business they wanted to be. “We wanted our employees to have family lives and not be traveling contractors,” she said.

The intention meant that Dohn Construction would need to focus on a broad niche, which she defines as Northern Colorado rather than a particular industry. But it also meant that if employees wanted to go to their children’s science fairs or to coach their teams, they’d be able to.

“A lot of times, people work in construction with the old-school way of thinking; they’re just in it for the money,” Dohn said. “I knew that wasn’t anything I wanted to be part of.”

The philosophy of treating employees, customers and subcontractors with respect has built her company into a leader in the industry, according to Ann Hutchison, executive vice president of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce. “Their growth is defined according to customer and employee needs and a desire to enrich our community.”

The way Dohn explains the reasoning is karma: “If you treat people right, it comes back to you.”

Another reason Dohn Construction is successful is that she and her husband bring completely different skills to it, she said. “Doug knows construction, and my expertise is in running the business.”

Originally, Dohn said, she was challenged because she was a woman in construction. “People treated me like a ‘little lady’ — especially subcontractors — until they realized that I know what I’m doing,” she said.

“I had to bite my tongue a lot and kept my CPA certificate on the wall so they could see it,” she added. “I smiled back and didn’t point out that I was a CPA because it could have been seen as a put-down.”

Today, Dohn Construction employs several women. “They can bring a softer side to the business,” she said. “A lot of people in construction can be hard and difficult to work with, and women generally do a little more communicating than men.”

“Connie’s constant presence in the nonprofit and civic community, coupled with her business acumen and success, have made her a strong role model for other businesswomen,” said Wynne Odell, chief executive of Odell Brewing Co. “She exemplifies how one woman can be simultaneously successful in business, of service to her community, and devoted to a beautiful family.”

Dohn’s volunteer work includes involvement with the Community Foundation and the Better Business Bureau.

“I love helping out, sharing things I’ve learned, and learning how other people run their businesses,” she said. “Sometimes as an owner you get all the problems to solve, but on boards, it’s not always just about the problems. It’s very rewarding.”

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