Part Mom, Part Mogul
Instinct and tenacity drove Dana Green to success as a developer, without ever losing sight of what's most important.
Minutes from downtown, construction is underway on a sprawling residential site in Boerne, Texas. Buzzing with workers and construction equipment, this massive project is the undertaking of one of the largest Central Texas developers you’ve never heard of.
Green Land Ventures is owned and operated by Dana Green. You would never guess that the petite young woman in a bright pink blazer looking over a set of blueprints is one of the most prolific real estate developers in the area. It makes sense that after growing up in Boerne, she’d eventually build her empire here. Serving as one of the major suburbs of San Antonio, it’s ideal development territory. But she’d tell you she’d never planned to be a developer.
“I thought I’d be a lawyer; planned on going to law school. Probably up until the time I decided not to go to law school.”
When she talks about her start, her eyes light up. As a young, ambitious college graduate, she often inflated her age to business associates in order to be taken more seriously. She purchased her first business — a nursing facility — when she was only 24.
“I called my mom and dad. The first thing she said is, ‘Don’t get in that business, go to law school.’ But I was persistent.”
Just like that, she found herself managing 85 employees. Overwhelmed but undaunted, it sparked a passion for business that led to a second investment only a year later. This time, real estate development.
Amazingly, she bought her first parcel of land from the local paper — 50 acres, for sale by owner. She took out a loan for the down payment and fearlessly set out to tackle a new opportunity with very little experience to fall back on.
“I really didn’t have a background in development, so I called a friend of mine and said, 'Hey Roger, who do y’all use to lay out all your streets and do your planning?' And he gave me the name. And that’s really how I got started.”
Dana’s tenacity is palpable even in conversation. She speaks of her success with great humility, attributing much of it to trustworthy partners. But her achievements speak for themselves, and her stories are often punctuated with the phrase, “So I created my own.” It’s been that way since she started. What did Dana do when she discovered that her very first development was in an unestablished zone without water? She started her own water company.
“I’ve always been told I’m tenacious. I don’t like to take no for an answer and it’s not really in my vocabulary. I’m very persistent. I do what’s in my control and I try not to worry about what’s not in my control. And so that personality served me well.”
Her attitude of persistence and humility enabled her to do everything she set her mind to, but the one thing standing in her way was capital. In the beginning, it wasn’t an easy thing to find lenders that recognized her potential, and it became even harder after the market crashed.
When she came to Centennial BANK in 2012, she realized she’d found a partnership. For over six years, Centennial helped Dana grow steadily in the market, providing capital for new acquisitions and expansions alike.
“We like Centennial Bank [because] I know my banker. They have good lending limits, they can handle our projects, and we know we can pick up the phone, call Centennial Bank, explain what project we’re working on, and they’re always eager to listen, and eager to help us and it’s a great relationship.”
But for her, seeking growth doesn’t mean becoming a massive corporation. She operates with a lean business model and trusted partners. Her ultimate goal for growth? To do one thing extremely well and replicate it.
“We’ve had opportunities for other land purchases and even though we could do it, I decided not to. Nothing’s ever driven me that we need to be the biggest developer in town. I’m probably a little fish in a big pond. We don’t want to be giant size. We’re pretty big, actually. But we want to be able to manage what we have."
The desire for balance comes from family. As a self-proclaimed workaholic, children gave her a reason to slow down. Dana recalls being pregnant with her first child, Zach, while working at the office the day before his due date, explaining to her mom that she still had “so much to do before having a baby.” Once Zach came along, she refocused her outlook.
“I look back and think if I’d have gone to law school with my personality I probably would have worked too much, missed too much of what they do. It’s about maintaining balance, especially with my family. They come first. I want to make sure there are no regrets.”
Dana coyly says that her children probably don’t even know what she does for a living. How could they not? After all, their family’s house sits in a cul-de-sac at the end of her own development on a sprawling piece of land just outside Boerne. Her children are in 8th and 9th grade, but she sees the entrepreneurship in both of them already. Zach, her eldest is an avid golfer, already sponsored by major brands at 15 years old. Her daughter, Claire is an all-star athlete, gymnast and cheerleader. Dana’s managed to find that balance and hold onto it.
“My biggest motivators are my children. I find my biggest joy in what they do. I know that when they’re in college I’ll look back and say, ‘I didn’t miss anything.’”
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