As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Odess.
Daniel B. Odess is Founder & President of GlobalPro, a construction and insurance specialty firm located in Coral Gables. Odess holds an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering, a Masters degree in Construction Management and is a Licensed General Contractor and Insurance Agent in the State of Florida as well as a Licensed Public Adjuster in various states throughout the US and US Territories. Odess has more than a decade of construction experience and has managed nearly $1 billion dollars of commercial and residential remodeling and new construction for two of ENR’s top contractors, making him uniquely qualified to oversee GlobalPro Recovery in all of its facets. Odess has also collectively adjusted, appraised, and served as an expert witness in thousands of insurance claims assisting community associations, business owners, and homeowners recover from a wide variety of property and business income losses. Odess maintains a strong commitment to the community and was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce and Executive Board for the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the Miami‐Dade Local Advisory Board for Truist, one of the largest financial services holding companies in the U.S. He owns and operates millions in real estate including a redevelopment project in Allapattha and a new office building in Coconut Grove, FL. He’s also developed insurance technology (insurtech) to level the playing field for policyholders. Odess is also a frequent contributing writer to numerous industry publications including Property Casualty 360, Condo Management Magazine, Claims Magazine, Florida Community Association Journal and The Florida Real Estate Journal. In addition, he has been interviewed as an insurance expert for multiple media outlets including CBS, Cheddar, Forbes, FoxNews, USA Today, Bankrate.com, Florida Trend and the Miami Herald.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up around construction. By 13, I had taught myself how to computer program. I always had a knack for math and science, so I pursued a degree in Engineering. While in Engineering school, I held several different jobs in construction that ranged from assembling doors to an electrical apprenticeship to a sales associate at a local Lowes to supervising the construction of single family and multifamily homes in the Florida Panhandle. After that, I moved to Washington DC where I managed the construction of several new ground-up commercial buildings, completed renovations of hotels and a few interior commercial spaces, and built more than 300+ single family and multi-family projects. My side hustle and first company in college and while living in DC was developing and implementing small business software.
After meeting my future wife, Susie Odess, who had recently graduated from College, I moved back with her to her hometown, Miami, to pursue another project, a condominium high-rise in Downtown Miami. Witnessing the economic downturn of the great recession, I left the construction industry and joined her family business of insurance public adjusting. Her father, Patrick Catania, mentored me as a young insurance public adjuster. I obtained my Public Adjuster license and then my General Contractor license. I quickly found MaxPro Builders and started handling large losses for commercial property owners and community associations.
In 2010, we tragically lost Patrick and by 2012 I left the family business to start GlobalPro. In the first year we were profitable and by 2014, we had doubled in size and quadrupled in revenue. In 2018, we exceeded more than $1b in recovery, developed our own proprietary software to managing our process and in 2019, we were named on the Inc 5000 list of the fastest growing small businesses in the USA. By this time, we had also acquired more than $10m in real estate and kicked off the construction of our new, state of the art office building located in Coconut Grove, FL.
While the economy has been suffering from the global pandemic, GlobalPro has been growing. By end of 2020, we will have added 6 new employees and launched two new Insurtech projects. We expect to reach new markets in 2021 and beyond!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
By 2017, we were growing so fast that we needed more space so desperately, but I was reluctant, if not afraid, to take a chance by spending more money on office space. We had about 10 employees crammed into 500 square feet. There was no place to have a calm, quiet conversation or a chance to collect your thoughts. I would spend hours walking in circles around the block with employees to discuss strategy and to troubleshoot issues.
We had no plan in place for such rapid growth and I was uncomfortable making a 5 or even 3-year commitment on another lease. It was complete chaos, but we made it work. Surprisingly, most of the people that were there with us going through this time, are still with us today. There was a lot to learn from being in such a small space, with so many people, doing so many different things, for more than 8 hours a day.
My biggest takeaway from that experience was to plan for the unexpected. Always set your goals, but also consider a contingency plan for when it really hits and works out. Being in the business of planning for the unexpected, we were kind of like the story of the shoe cobbler that has bad shoes. However, since I’ve always been big on goal writing, I had direction and through it all and stayed focused. I knew where I was headed, I just had to drill down and get into the details more and more. We exercised patience and it worked for us.
We also learned that we need to have a plan for hiring and more importantly, onboarding. At that time, we were winging it and we certainly made mistakes. Once we figured it out, we devised a plan for the future and we continue to improve on it.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
The book that helped me find my footing and provided me the direction I needed at a young age was, “Create Your Own Future” by Brian Tracy. Honestly, at 20 years old, I was never a huge fan of reading business books and certainly not “self-help” or personal development titles. I preferred biographies or science orientated subject matters. For some reason, this book resonated with me. Most likely, because I had just tanked an internship interview with a big construction firm. They asked me a rather simple question about goals and accomplishments. Today, I could rattle off dozens, but at 20 years old, I was uncomfortable and frustrated. My answers were shallow, and I quickly realized that I needed to make a big change. Brian Tracy’s advice on goal writing led to a happier life with far more direction. While I struggled early on in college, I ended up at the top of my class with dozens of job offers. I made decisions faster and accomplished so much more financial freedom and balance in my life.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
My vision was to become my own biggest client. To do that, I needed a well-educated, motivated team of licensed professionals from diverse backgrounds in law, finance, insurance, engineering, and construction. I needed a team of administrators to help support these professionals to make them more productive. To be my biggest client, I needed real estate and diverse portfolio of companies that provided an ecosystem that could feed and refuel itself.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Find your balance and give back to your community.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
For starters, my son, Luca Patrick, was born on March 17th, one day after the entire country was locked down. When we had our daughter in 2017, we were surrounded by family and friends and celebrated the moment over and over again. This time it was different. No one came to visit, and we were alone with our son for days. However, it gave us an opportunity to live more in the moment and with our daughter at home, waiting on the arrival of her new brother, we have all grown remarkably closer as a family. Now, with two young children at home, without daycare or regular visits or outings to zoos, museums, and restaurants, we make our own experiences at home, together.
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I have found that our team has experienced a new kind of fatigue. We have all had to find a new balance. We are constantly trying to find new ways to stay close and collaborate like we did when we shared an office, but the distance has created new challenges. In order to address this fatigue, we coordinate daily meetups, not meetings. These are an opportunity to address business issues, but also a time to just, talk. We’ve also done a series of lunches and client events, where we invited the entire team. Typically, client events were managed by the marketing team a couple employees, now everyone participates.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
We are all very thankful for video technology that allows us to easily stay connected with loved ones and family. We are constantly sharing photographs, videos and when we can be together, it is always a big occasion. We’ve started a tradition of making Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings a big cooking class for the entire family. From baking cookies to making pancakes to grilling chicken, we all gather and participate.
Obviously, we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Being real estate centric with a focus on redevelopment for long term returns, we expect there to be buying opportunities. Also, extreme fluctuations in the past have led to some of the best innovation. Since, we are also developing new technology, we are looking for new talent to help elevate our products.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
I think the pandemic will force us to do more of what we were already doing. Build reserves and plan for the future. Otherwise, our company was positioned to work from home and quickly adapt to hard times, since we deal with major disasters year-round. I think many people will expect permanent change in behavior, but like we have seen with major disasters of the past, there is always a correction. I just think it will take longer to correct and get back to normal.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
Our business is unique in the fact that it thrives during a time of disaster. We are always educating clients and the community about disaster preparedness. A lot of that is centered around economics and staffing. We certainly practice what we preach, so we are building, not rebuilding.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I would encourage entrepreneurs to consider the advice of experts, like us, and more so than ever, seek out assistance with goal setting and planning. Be ready to adapt and pivot. Don’t get complacent. Also, stop ignoring the changes in the insurance market. Become an educated consumer.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” — Steve Jobs. First, I hate micromanaging. I don’t believe that you can accomplish anything if you are busy doing someone else’s job. Also, to achieve success practice listening. Find the right talent and then spend more time listening than directing.
How can our readers further follow your work?
You can also check us out on instagram at @globalpro