The News-Press, June 20, 2015 - Father brings son into home-building business

The News-Press, June 20, 2015 - Father brings son into home-building business

When Dan Koogler’s dad called asking him to join the family home-building business, it was no easy decision to make.

“I did have reservations,” said Koogler, 29, a former member of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. “I was actually debating whether to continue in the military.”

But he took his father up on the offer, and he’s glad he did — so is Don Koogler, 61, owner of Cape Coral-based custom home builder Koogler Homes.

“I’ve been in this 42 years, and sooner or later I’ve got to get myself out somehow,” he said. “I should be able to retire when I’m 80.”

Dan clearly enjoys his job as a construction supervisor, making sure that everything’s going well with clients and subcontractors alike.

“I find subs, compare bids, find ways to save money,” he said. “I contact the clients.”

Don said continuous attention to a particular project’s details, and contact with everyone involved, is the company’s trademark and the most important element of the business.

Don is still shouldering much of that burden himself.

“I’m not a desk guy,” he said. “I’m a perfectionist. We try to do everything a little differently on each house.”

Bill Dueease, owner of Fort Myers-based Coach Connection, often consults with family-owned businesses in transition.

“The biggest issue is that dad built his business his way on his terms, and that’s why it was successful. His sons, when they finally take it over, have to do it on their terms, and do it because they want to.”

It’s a good sign that Don is already trusting Dan with some of the most important aspects of Koogler’s work, Dueease said.

But 80 percent of a successful passing down of a business comes down to whether the next generation really wants to take over, he said.

Dan leaves little doubt that he wants this challenge.

Asked what he expects to be doing five years from now, he thought for a moment and then nodded to his father: “Him slowly getting to do less, and me taking more of the responsibility.”

But when will Don be ready to turn over the reins?

He’ll stay in the game “as long as I enjoy what I’m doing,” he said.

But the overriding need is to pass Koogler Homes to the next generation, Don said. “That’s my whole goal — to keep it in the family.”