By Rachael Kvapil
Most family businesses are comprised of a dynamic duo, or even a triple threat: husband/wife, father/daughter, grandpa/father/grandson, etc. But DBS Enterprises draws in the entire clan to create a family partnership that results in consistent quality construction work in the Anchorage area.
“At any point a customer could be talking to my aunt on the phone or working with my dad or brother,” said Roy Buyse, a partner at DBS Enterprise. “My brother and sister both have large families who help when needed.”
DBS Enterprises started 46 years ago in Fort Collins, Colorado, and moved to Alaska during the construction boom of the 1980s. It has been a general contractor from the start primarily handling small commercial projects. Buyse says they have worked for a number of entities in the Anchorage area, including the municipality, the school district, and the military. More recently they’ve branched into a few residential projects.
Buyse said he and his brother, Monte, started working summers with their dad in the third grade. Likewise, his mother and sister have worked for the company off and on over the years. Working in a family business, Buyse said he and his sibling had a rare opportunity to develop a trade skill, business acumen and a work ethic they later instilled in their own children.
“A good work ethic has set my daughters apart from others as they transitioned into their respective careers. From a young age they were put in a supervisory position, all because of a work ethic that started with my grandfather.”
In addition to hard work, DBS’s blueprint for success includes extensive family connections. Buyse says that everyone, including his nephews, teams up when they acquire a work-intensive project. While this generally makes for smooth operations, he admits that one of the natural challenges with a family business is communication styles. However, he feels these challenges have only strengthened their ties over the years.
“I’ve slowly come to realize how extremely rare it is for people to keep in touch with each other,” Buyse said. “Most people tell me how long it’s been since they talked to their parents. It’s normal now to see a separation in the generations.”
Curt Ecklund, Weatherization Program Manager for RurAL CAP, the Rural Alaska Community Action Program Inc., said DBS’s united front has made it great to work with for past eight years. DBS worked on several weatherization projects to increase the energy-efficiency, safety, comfort and life expectancy of homes across the state. Typical projects include caulking and sealing windows and doors; adding insulation to walls, floors and ceilings; and improving the efficiency of heating systems.
“They have a consistent high quality of work and great customer service,” Ecklund said. “The familyrun aspect has provided a unique level of control among employees and an incredible degree of communication when handling projects.”
Ryan Kenny, Associate Director of Exhibitions for the Anchorage Museum, agreed. He said the rotation of gallery exhibitions requires a quick turnaround. DBS Enterprises builds and removes temporary walls and other installations for exhibitions, while adhering to strict environmental requirements that are closer to hospital standards than what might be expected for a typical public space.
“They always strive to think outside the box when creating aesthetically interesting designs,” Kenny said. “There are a lot of restrictions in place to make sure the gallery is dust-free and secure during the construction and installation phase. DBS meets all the requirements in a timely fashion and within the allocated budget.”
Buyse said that working in a small family business, there is often the temptation to narrow the company’s focus to a particular specialty instead of providing a wide range of services. However, their multi-service business model has allowed DBS to work efficiently and resulted in add-ons to existing projects, something that is also beneficial to its customers, who save the time they would otherwise spend finding someone to hire.
DBS Enterprises has been an AGC member since 2015. Buyse said that membership allows the company to keep a finger on the pulse of economic and technological trends in Alaska. Likewise, AGC provides a number of resources in one location including job postings, training and networking opportunities.
Buyse said the company is moving into a transition period with a number of family partners growing older and technological changes influencing daily operations. The future will soon be in the hands of the next generation, and Buyse is preparing others to take the lead someday. This includes methods of bidding, communicating with customers and with other employees, completing projects and marketing DBS’s services in Alaska.
Rachael Kvapil is a freelance writer living in Fairbanks.