Dan Connolly’s love of building started with a plan to build a tree fort in the backyard of his childhood home.
One of Dan Connolly’s earliest childhood memories isn’t playing in the sandbox that was in the backyard of his parent’s home. Instead, what sticks in his memory was watching his dad build that sandbox. Measuring carefully, sawing each plank, making sure every single nailhead was flush to the edge of the wood – this wasn’t just the beginning of fun times in the backyard. It was the beginning of what would become Dan’s lifelong fascination with building things.
Dan’s father wasn’t a builder by trade, he worked at a machine shop, but that didn’t stop him from engaging in all types of home construction projects. From the shed in the backyard to the new addition to their family home – Dan was always there as his father’s assistant; fetching tools until he was old enough to cut and hammer himself. It was only natural that at some point, Dan would want to lead a project of his own.
THE FIRST PROJECT
A tree fort had always been thought of as a dream project by Dan and his brother. On one particular day during summer break from elementary school, they decided to make that dream a reality. Before assembling all the materials and tools they needed, Dan and his “crew” just had one more box to check – permission from Dan’s father. He happily agreed as long as two rules were obeyed: 1) no power tools until dad came home to help and 2) dad would inspect the structure for safety purposes until anyone was allowed in it.
With those stipulations in place and some help from the most experienced builder in the Connolly family, the team made steady progress week after week. An unexpected supply drop came when Dan’s parents decided to get rid of their old wooden deck. Suddenly, the humble tree fort had turned into a five-level structure with stairs, platforms, and even a makeshift zipline to go from the tree to the shed without ever touching the ground. When it was complete, it would be the site of many neighborhood get-togethers, late-night hangouts, and summer manhunt hiding spots.
A PASSION DISCOVERED
Not built with pressure-treated wood, it would only be a matter of time until the Connolly tree fort was no longer safe and would have to come down. Yet, two remnants of the structure still remain to this very day. The first is a wooden ring still up in the very tree in Wrentham that was once the most popular place for the kids in the neighborhood to be. The other remnant is the love for the process of building that was ignited in that tree fort’s designer.
By middle school, Dan had already gotten his feet wet in the construction industry by earning a few bucks picking up shingles for a roofer. By high school, Dan was completing those roofing jobs himself and had even started to pick up some small contracting work.
When high school was wrapping up and there were life decisions to be made, Dan knew he was either going to follow his love for construction or become an accountant since Math was always his best subject. He took the opportunity to merge the two, following the path of a construction management major at Wentworth and never looking back.
A DREAM REALIZED
While the projects are much bigger now and he’s the one preaching safety rules on the job site (the same way his father used to), Dan still sees many similarities between his work as the President of BLOCK and his time building a tree fort in his parent’s backyard.
“When we were building that tree fort, I just remember having so much fun digging into the details and coming up with better ways to accomplish our vision for it,” Dan recalls. “Now I get to do that same thing with our clients’ visions, and it still feels just as fun.”