Daryl Sundberg is owner and project manager for Sundberg Construction.
During the past building boom in Cobb, Sundberg put up three to five custom homes a year as well as contracting large restoration projects. He employed two project managers.
In 2008, Sundberg built zero homes and had to lay off both of his employees.
"Laying off people was the worst thing I've ever had to do," he said. "I'm cautiously optimistic about the housing market in Cobb. I think that it's going to pick back up after one more rough year."
Sundberg now has two custom homes and other smaller projects in progress.
He estimates that his current workload hires about 76 subcontractors.
"My goal for 2012 is to build two more homes," Sundberg said.
Sundberg, 41, is a married "grandfather" with three school-aged children and one adult daughter who is adopted in spirit but not by law.
Q. What's the best thing about your job?
A. I love building houses. Seeing plans on paper progress to something standing, three-dimensional is great. I like working with the clients.
Q. What is the best thing about East Cobb?
A. Everything you could want is in the area, close and convenient. It's safe here. We have good fire and police services.
I grew up here, graduated from Sprayberry High School. I live in the house I grew up in. I bought it from my mom when I was 20.
Q. Why did you choose to open your business in East Cobb?
A. It's an affluent area, which supports high-end building. Most of the people are college-educated. It's fun working with them.
Q. Why did you pick this kind of business?
A. My father was absent from my life, and when I was 16, there was an incident with my neighbor, Luke Serria, at my mother's mailbox. Luke and I got into a heated back and forth. I wound up challenging him that I could work harder than he could.
He took the challenge and told me to meet him at 6 the next morning. We laid concrete all day. Luke was a master brick mason. It was a rough week, but Luke became my surrogate father.
I fell in love with building from then on.
He's the one who taught me to set my eyes on the work every day, to personally be involved in every project.
Q. How long have you been in business?
A. Sundberg Construction started in 1996.
Q. How did your business get started?
A. Right out of high school I became a Cobb fireman. I worked and went to school at Herzing University in DeKalb, where I earned a civil engineering degree.
After graduating, I was engineer on a couple of bridges in Cherokee County. I found that I enjoyed residential building better, so I became a full-time paramedic so that I could get back into building part time.
I did repairs and small jobs for the doctors and hospital staff. I met a nurse who happened to have a master’s degree in marketing. She talked me into starting my own business and became my partner.
When her Marine husband had to relocate, I bought out her share of the business.
Q. Do you have advice for anyone who'd like to start a small business in this area?
A. If the new business is in construction, I'd advise them not to start it at this point. It's pretty tough right now.
As new starts in general, I would say to look around and see what your resources are. Consult S.C.O.R.E.
For me, luck has played a role in my business. Without the people around me, I wouldn't be able to do what I do.
Most of my marketing is word-of-mouth. I pass out a lot of business cards.
A woman at my church gave my business card to the clients of the new home I'm currently building in downtown Marietta.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know?
A. Sundberg Construction is here. I work predominately in East Cobb. Besides custom homes I work on severe fire and flood restoration projects.
2324 Forest Green Dr.