How Adam Dovile went from chippy to empire builder
Having seen how hard his family worked to make ends meet, Adam Dovile was never going to be one to shirk. Now as a recognised television personality and successful builder, we look back at his road to success.
There’s an easy reassurance to Adam Dovile. In part, it’s the smile; his wide, easy grin is instantly likeable and instils confidence.
In part, it’s the fact that Dovile knows what he’s doing. The Better Homes and Gardens resident builder and DIY guru is as at home explaining the finer points of joinery on screen, as he is managing a multilayered makeover on a tight deadline.
And while this sort of on-camera confidence can be learned – after all, the charismatic carpenter shot to fame in the 2014 season of House Rules (which he and his wife Lisa won) – but for Dovile, the confidence is earned.
That’s because even though much of his time is taken up by media appearances and teaching people DIY, it hasn’t stopped him remaining a builder at heart. He even manages to take on select building projects because, more than anything, Dovile loves seeing a project come to life.
This passion and the foundations for Dovile’s success were laid early.
Chippin’ away at a career in the trades
“From a young age I loved being outside; there’s a lot of photos of me playing in the dirt,” said Dovile.
“My mum always said I was going to be doing something with my hands.”
And sure enough, a few years later he got his first taste of the building life: digging out a room under his parents’ place, and turning it into a music studio for his drumming with the help of a carpenter who lived up the road. From that moment on, it was off to the races.
Dovile took summer jobs on worksites while still in high school sweeping and filling bins, which taught him the basics, and a pre-apprenticeship after completing school gave him a solid grounding in the trade, setting the tone for Dovile’s prudent business sense.
“I wanted to have more experience before I was on site full time, so would you ask me as my boss or as a subbie to do something and I’d actually understand what you’re saying,” he said.
An apprenticeship soon followed – but one job wasn’t enough for Dovile – especially when the pay was lousy.
“I come from a hardworking family,” Dovile explained. “My parents had a pizza shop for 20 years – I worked in that – and I’ve seen them work hard and they taught us a strong work ethic.
“I made a pact with myself that, by the time I was qualified, I wanted to have enough money to be able to buy my own house; so only five bucks an hour wasn’t going to cut it.”
In addition to learning the tools, Dovile worked in the family pizza shop, the local supermarket and even delivered flowers on the weekend. This dedication continued even after completing his apprenticeship.
“I knew I was never going to stay working for the man,” he said. “I just had too much drive.”
“I used to look up to my bosses and I wanted to have what they had.”
Building the foundations for success
Despite his hunger to achieve, Dovile was strategic in his career progression. He wanted an Unlimited Builder’s licence, and the more complex, demanding jobs that came with it, but instead he set his sights a little lower.
“After qualifying, I stayed working for the boss for another two years and then said: ‘Mate, I need to grow.’
“At that point, I could have gone for the builder’s license, but I thought it was best to start small.
“I’ve always been told crawl before you can walk.”
And the decision to start a small carpentry business before a larger building company was a prudent one.
“It’s it’s not just working on the tools anymore.
“It’s about knowing how to quote for a job and manage, you know, the bookwork.
“From there, I realised if you’re running your own business you’re working seven days a week, whether you like it or not.”
It turns out experience in the administrative side of the business was a steep learning curve, but ultimately a valuable one. Dovile learned the hard way that balancing the books and maintaining an even workload is as essential to building a business and a reputation as the building itself.
“I don’t know any tradie that gets into the trade to do bookkeeping. They don’t, they just don’t.”
He also learned that bookkeeping isn’t where his passion, or his strengths lay: “I don’t enjoy it, I’m not going to lie, there’s not much in me that enjoys doing the administrative side of the business.”
But even in acknowledging this weakness there’s strength — it led Dovile to MYOB, and a system that allows him to focus on what he loves.
“Having a system like MYOB means it’s not something that I have to always have front of mind, and that makes a huge difference.”
But even though managing the accounts might not be his favourite job, getting it right is still satisfying.
“When the books are looking good, there’s always a smile on my face.”