Gary Dayan

Never leave anything undone. No matter the size of that task, focus on getting it done in the best possible way and move immediately onto the next one.


A Chicago native, Gary Dayan has spent years successfully managing large teams across Chicagoland in the construction industry on a variety of commercial and residential projects. In 2002, he launched Xced Builders, combining his years of experience and passion for the industry to create something new — a customer-service oriented, transparent building company. Successfully growing the company throughout the early 2000s, he officially changed the company name to Xced Design Build in 2016 in an effort to reflect the company’s full capabilities — taking clients from the beginning design stages of a renovation to the completed project. Gary’s focus and drive have lead to some of the most beautiful projects throughout Chicago’s downtown market, working his way through many condominiums for both residential and commercial development. His dream for the company is to continue honest work with charisma and energy for clients. As Founder and Project Manager, Gary’s excited to see what the future holds for Xced Design Build. He is a proud member of NARI Chicago.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I had a successful position in management at a well-established retail outlet that I was on site for over 60 hours per week and was also trying to juggle family and home life. I needed and wanted a more balanced life. Boy was I surprised ????!

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Typically, I start off at jobsites to make sure everything goes as planned. Then, I make my way to the office to check in with the rest of the team. I then plan and prepare the tasks for the next day and always keep our team visioning forward.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I begin by visualizing what the end result should or could be. I wish I could take all the credit for our ideas, but the truth is I work in a very collaborative environment with a great team. We all have a part of bringing any idea into life. We are able to feed off of each other, give each other opinions and hopefully see our ideas become realities.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Honestly, for me, the clients knowing a little more about what to expect and being more educated allows them to be more in tune with what goes into a project and what to expect from the process. I don’t know if you call this a trend, but it’s a shift in our society and I’m really enjoying it.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I give the same commitment to my personal time as I do to my professional obligations. Over the course of my career I have ebbed and flowed with work priorities and time needed to reach set goals at the sacrifice of my personal life. My ability to balance priorities and obligations has greatly improved and I find I am more efficient and focused when I am at task. I also balance my efforts between maintaining our existing relationships, day-to-day operations and pursuing our long-term visions and goals for the company.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I am very conflicted with this question. One side of me wants to tell the younger Gary to be more carefree and not worry so much, but the other side of me would tell that kid to work harder and be assured that he can play later. No regrets, that’s my most important takeaway from life.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Anger is a productive feeling. I think most people fear assertion and when you really focus back on it, that little voice in me that helps me lead our team to be better the next day is the same voice that goes for what he wants and feels free to express himself. Sometimes, I get mad at my family, just like I do my team at work, but it only leads us to become closer and vision further together.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

The biggest thing is completing the task. Never leave anything undone. No matter the size of that task, focus on getting it done in the best possible way and move immediately onto the next one.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Attracting and working with good people. The first thing I do when looking to add somebody to the team, or finding a new power partner, is to look for a good human-being first and focus on talent after that. Everyone can increase their skillset, but that innate desire to be a better person tomorrow than we are today is what I look for in each person I work with.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest failure was being over-leveraged. The collapse of ’08 took me a few years to really recover. I had to start all over again, rebuild the business to where we are now, and I’m very conscious about staying ahead of our work. Our new business model is an improvement over our past because we’re aiming more towards strong relationships than individual project goals.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

One of the things we’re noticing in our industry is deeper collaboration with power partners on projects. People are collaborating in unconventional ways and creating new opportunities for one another. I’ll share an idea of what we’re doing which may inspire people in other industries to do the same. Our company, Xced, is creating a space we call our Xced Design Studio in Chicago, which will be a collaborative space for independent interior designers from across Chicagoland. We’re not going to charge rent. We’re simply looking to fill this community with like-minded industry partners who want to grow together. I feel like other industries could take a similar kind of coworking, co-op approach to build their independent small businesses.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

A baby gift! We love celebrating our partners who are growing their families, it’s such a beautiful change in their life and our future.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

This may seem like a fairly basic answer, but Google Drive has really helped us collaborate with some of our team members on projects. As we work with website and marketing partners, or when we brainstorm together with other partners, the ease of using apps like Google docs saves us a lot of confusion when collaborating.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Art of Happiness by Howard Cutler. For me, my takeaway was not to worry about “why.” Historically, I used to ask why first, and try to change what I was doing or see if I could effect change. Now, I accept that some things are the way they are, and I do my best to navigate them.

What is your favorite quote?

“If you’re going through hell, keep going!” – Winston Churchill

Key learnings:

  • Collaborate in unconventional ways and create opportunities for one another
  • Never leave anything undone
  • Accept some things for what they are and do your best to navigate them