2005 Builder/Contractor of the Year: Fast-Dry Companies
For the Fast-Dry Companies of Pompano Beach, Fla., it’s not just about family values, it’s about valuing the family. Steven Dettor started the business in 1981, and now, with three of his five sons involved in the company — and a good chance the other two may join soon — the business is booming.
“It’s great to have my sons involved,” says Dettor. “It makes everything a heck of a lot easier.” But family involvement isn’t the only thing that makes the Fast-Dry Companies a success.
Fast-Dry’s quality of work, customer service, and well-trained staff all add up to a business that many court construction firms should emulate. All those reasons, and more, have led RSI to pick the Fast-Dry Companies as our 2005 Builder/Contractor of the Year.
As its name implies, Fast-Dry is actually two companies. Dettor (right) started Fast-Dry Corp., a nationwide court supply company, in 1981. (Prior to that, he was the general manager of a paving company based in Fort Lauderdale, where he had started a tennis division.)
“After I started Fast-Dry, I saw a tremendous need for construction,” says Dettor. “There just wasn’t a lot of quality work going on at that time. So three or four years later, I got heavily into construction.” And that’s when he started Fast-Dry Courts Inc. Now, the supply company employs about 30 people, and the court-building side has about seven.
“Everything that I do has to do with people,” Dettor says. “I have four really great foremen, all of whom have been with me a long time. And I have a tremendous salesman in Frank Froehling, who’s been with us for four years.
“But also, I’m fortunate that I have three of my sons in the business right now,” he adds. The oldest son, Steve, recently received his MBA from the Wharton School of Business and is considering coming into the family business.
The next oldest, Todd, is the company’s vice president of sales for hard and soft courts. Trimmer is the vice president of the supply division, David is a superintendent in the field, and the youngest, Daniel, is in his last year at the University of Central Florida.
“The sons are very involved in the business,” says Randy Futty, the director of sales for Lee Tennis. “They’re just a great group of folks, and really quality-driven, too.
“I’ve been with Lee Tennis for 12 years, and Fast-Dry has consistently been one of the best builders, if not the best builder, in the country,” Futty adds. “They do great work, they have great follow-up support, and they have a really well-trained, experienced staff.”
Dettor says that Fast-Dry does between 100 and 150 courts (including the courts at Woodfield Country Club, shown above), and about 80 percent of them are clay, with the rest hard courts. Currently, they’re working on the 15 clay courts at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club in Florida.
“Fast-Dry is a perennial winner in our ASBA awards program,” says Carol Hogan, executive vice president of the American Sports Builders Association. “And the Dettors are well-respected by their peers. They say what they mean and do what they say.”
“We have great products,” says Dettor. “There’s no question that we have a tremendous relationship with Lee Tennis, NovaSports, and RLS Lighting, and that has helped make us successful.”
But for the patriarch of the family, it all boils down to one thing: “We have what you would call ‘experience,’” Dettor says. “We know what to expect and how to save the customer money that others may not know about. That’s the No. 1 thing we’re really selling.”
Fast-Dry’s tips for success
- Success is all about attitude. “You need to like what you’re doing,” says Dettor.
- Stay with it through both the good and bad times, and you’ll usually end up on top.
- Be upfront and honest with customers, and give them a realistic construction schedule.
- Create a partnership with customers. “We don’t want them as a one-timer,” says Dettor. “Over the long term, we want to sell them supplies and take care of their courts.”
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.