Founder of Skelly Build Diana Skellenger allows us to take a look at how she builds success at work and peace.
By Georgia Valles, All construction by Skelly Build
CEO and founder of Skelly Build, an Austin-based construction company founded in 2017, Diana Skellenger has built a name for herself in a male-dominated industry. The business has a foundation of accurate communication and good quality while being open and honest with its customers. Skellenger started the company in her 20s with the support of her husband, Sean Skellenger, who is now COO/CFO of the company, and much has changed since the company’s origins. Skelly Build has successfully grown and put up beautiful homes all around Austin, including renovations to the Skellengers’ own condo located in Downtown Austin. Not to mention Diana has three children, her youngest being born just this July. Though woman-owned, Skelly Build is not a design company, as one might assume.
“We are not design-build, we are purely build,” Diana says. “It is a common misconception that because I am a woman, people think we would design too. We stick to build, construction and hammers.” Diana shares the personal and professional routine that has helped her gain success in this male-dominated industry.
What was the company like in 2017?
“There was always a constant grind that you had to put in when creating a company. It requires a lot of time and effort. You’re marketing, finance, CEO, sales and project manager, working 60- to 80-hour workweeks. I had to put in the time and effort to create something successful.”
How are you different from starting the company in 2017 to now?
“My schedule now is different. It’s adjusted with my lifestyle. As my husband started working with me as our CFO, he helped implement processes, and I’m more on the creative side. [My first] priority is family; I preach that as a business owner. I wake up between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. to start the day, with an hour and a half of quiet time. A lot of my meetings are super high level, and after, there are a lot of to-do’s. We typically end our day around 4 p.m. Our schedule has improved a lot.”
What is it like being a woman in construction?
“I think being a woman in this industry is very interesting, and it has a lot of advantages. A lot of construction companies are generational and men-owned. I think Austin is an amazing place to be as a woman-owned business; people want to work with a woman-owned business. Ten of our 14 employees are women! The biggest thing in any service industry is trust. Though there are always challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated field, we are held to higher standards in construction, so the women in my company are always ready to learn and get higher education in construction.”
How do you relax and spend your time outside of work?
“We love to travel. Our kids have been to Europe quite a few times for their age. We want to expose them to different cultures, languages and foods. It’s extremely important to Sean and me, because there is just so much in this world to explore. Here in Austin, we love to swim; we are super active people on the weekends. We have soccer and swim practice; then we do more activities. Sean’s and my mindset is very go-go-go. Our kids also don’t like to sit around; they like to be active.”
What are your tips for business owners?
“My number-one tip for business owners is to get up early. Start work early before everybody else. Also, hire good people, and value your employees. They turn into your brand, too, and they are a representation of your brand. Personal projects give us the perspective that we need to manage client expectations. If you don’t have any real-life experience, then you don’t understand what your clients are going through.”