NADRA Member Spotlight: Custom Design Group, Barry Fate

Company Name: Custom Design Group
Member Name:  Barry Fate
Position:  Owner
Member Category:  Builder
Location: Kalamazoo, MI

What inspired you to join NADRA? I’ve been building decks for over 40 years. I wanted to become part of an organization that dedicated itself to MY profession.

When did you first get involved with this industry? On a full time exclusive basis- 35 years ago.

What was the first thing you ever built? I helped my father (who was a builder/remodeler) build a two level deck on a lake home when I was 14 (53 years ago).

We want to get to know you, please tell us a little about your business: I am a small, self-owned business professional. My daughter works with me every day (she is a fine carpenter) as well as my middle son (on a part-time basis). I have a strong background in outdoor living – pools & spas / specialty concrete and hardscapes, and I love the creativity of designing and then building what I have designed. Award-winner “Qualified Remodeler” magazine, and several other awards including “Best of Houzz.”
We are a TREX-Pro-Platinum contractor. BBB – A+ rated. We don’t have crews….we are the crew. Fully licensed & insured. Community oriented – contributed labor to several “Habitat for Humanity” homes through the Home Builders of Western Michigan and have built several ramps for veterans.

How do you define success? Success can be defined in several ways: 1) If you love what you do; 2) If you love who you work with: 3) If your customers become your friends and you satisfy them beyond their expectations; 4) If you have been able to weather the economic instability over the past 20 years; 5) If you are recognized by your peers in the industry that you work in.

What advice would you like to share with fellow members that you have learned in your career? Be open to listen to others – you can learn something new every day if you are just willing to listen. Also, be humble – don’t be the “know everything” person in the room…. because you don’t. Always be open to sharing ideas.

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this? Cooking is my hobby. I love to cook (My wife is a great cook, but I do 90% of the cooking in our home). I would have a small specialty eatery/café offering specialty salads and sandwiches (made to order right in front of the customer) and unique soups.

A little more about Barry: My family is the most important aspect of my life! I used to be a “workaholic” back in the late 70’s / early 80’s. After my mother passed away and my children were growing, I decided that I needed to focus my energy on them and not on just chasing the money. I would rather have my wife and children see me as a role model that they can look up to than an “absentee” dad that was never home because of work and chasing the almighty dollar. At a time when most people my age are retired (I’m on Social Security), I am out in the field every day with my best friends (my daughter and my son) working side-by-side doing what I love.
My wife and I have been together for 46 years and enjoy spending time together in our first (and only) home. We love spending time outdoors (why not? I work there) enjoying our kids and grandchildren around the pool… couldn’t get any better!!!


NADRA Member Spotlight: DOCK & DECK, Jason Varney

Company Name: DOCK & DECK
Member Name:   Jason Varney
Position:  President / Owner
Member Category:  * Not just a deck builder. Dock builder and outdoor living contractor.
Location: Knoxville, TN

What inspired you to join NADRA?   Such a great group of people and the ability to help support the only group that promotes growth and expansion to our trade!

When did you first get involved with this industry?  Summer 2008

What was the first thing you ever built?  I started building log homes and timber construction professionally. The first build project I ever took on was a deck build on my own home.

We want to get to know you, please tell us a little about your business:  My business is DOCK & DECK. We specialize in marine construction, decks, and outdoor living spaces. I started my company in 2008. We currently do about 20 Decks a year and about 16-24 docks a year. It is a family business that I started and now have both my sons working with me one full time and one part time.

How do you define success?  I define success as happiness. If I enjoy what I have and what I do I am very successful. Success is not about how much money you have. It is all about how happy you are day to day.

What advice would you like to share with fellow members that you have learned in your career?  Each and everyone of the members bring a unique quality to the table. Share your knowledge and experiences and help the industry continue to grow. The biggest thing we can do as members is help showcase what we do and continue to bring youth into the field. Good quality construction is hard to find so share with others how you made it to this point

If you could ask your fellow industry professionals one question, what might it be?  What would you do differently or what was your biggest mistake in business? How did you overcome that?

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?   I would run a charter fishing boat at a beach/ocean somewhere warm year round.

A little more about Jason: I am a very outdoors kind of guy. I enjoy spending my time outside with my family and friends. I have a pilots license, a motorcycle licenses, a captains (large boats) license, and enjoy all types of car and trucks. If it moves I like to operate it. My family is a huge part of my life and I get to work with them daily. Over the past two years besides running my business I have been the star in a TV show DOCKED OUT on DIY with Scripps Network and continue to work on new shows to share currently. Wife and kids are a part of the show as it focuses on what we do and how we run the business throughout the build process. I reside in Knoxville, TN.

Connect with DOCK & DECK:



Instagram: JasonVarney

DOCK & DECK Photo Gallery: 

*A Member Spotlight winner will be chosen each month. For a chance to win, please fill out the questionnaire found  here .