“There is a commonly referenced constraints triangle in construction project management that shows time, cost, and quality on its outer corners. The often repeated phrase is to pick two because you can’t have all three. Leif Dove possesses the unique skillset of being able to align these three constraints by keeping his projects right in the middle of the triangle. Leif’s ability to align his customers’ goals with those of NATiVE is what results in him having lasting friendships with his homeowners long after their homes are completed.”
– Lloyd Lee, NATiVE CEO
Leif, tell us a bit about yourself (hobbies, education, born, raised, etc.).
I was born in Austin, Texas at Seton Hospital to Major Life Dove and Linda Dove. My dad was an RF-4 navigator in the USAF, stationed at Bergstrom Air Force Base. We lived in the “country” in Westlake Hills with a lot of woods between neighbors and backed up to what’s now Wild Basin Preserve. My friends and I spent our youth doing things that would now get us or our parents arrested. We took apart fireworks and rebuilt them….stronger, faster, better. We spent all day in woods and wouldn’t return home until dark. We blazed trails through public and private property to ride our bicycles and later dirt bikes. We were friendly to everyone we encountered, and they just thought we were industrious kids. Times were different then, but I’ve never lost my love for blazing trails and being outdoors. I’m eternally grateful to my father and late-mother for the structured (military) and free-spirited upbringing. They gave us limits and let us explore within them. They often helped us expand and push those boundaries. I grew up thinking that absolutely anything was possible if I set my mind to it and got the education and experience to make it happen. My father retired from the Air Force while at Bergstrom, so I grew up “military,” but didn’t bounce around. We were stationed in England when I was 3 and 4, but returned to the same house in Westlake. I started kindergarten with a British accent, though no one would believe that now.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I’ve got to admit that the thing I love most about my job is running earth-moving equipment when I get the chance. I feel like a kid, but with superpowers. I love the right tool for the job and a skid loader or excavator sure beat a pick, shovel, and wheelbarrow. Besides that, I truly enjoy my relationships with our customers. To build them a home that they’ll make so many memories in is an honor that I take quite seriously. I try to get to know them and learn how they live, so I can build them a better home. I know that when I’m handed a job, the plans are drawn and specifications have been determined, but it’s my responsibility to the customer to offer advice and educate them along the way. Every Native home has never been built before and there’s room for creativity in our process. I take considerable pride in devising solutions, or doing something “extra” to please my homeowners. I also respect and admire the folks I work with at Native. Everyone knows their role and executes them with passion. I’ve made some incredible friendships and learned so much from my Native coworkers. Additionally, I have a huge amount of respect for the (often) small business owners who are our trade partners. I’ve often said that I’m not a framer, electrician, plumber, painter, or interior designer. Those professionals are really what bring the high quality to our projects. I’m constantly amazed at the ingenuity, creativity, and pure skill that they have. I pride myself on showing them the respect they deserve and consequently, it pays dividends on my relationship with them and the quality of work they put into our homes.
What advice do you have for people who would like to build a home?
I’d advise someone wanting to build a home to spend the majority of their time thinking about how they’ll live in the home and then clearly communicate that to their trusted design and construction team. I’m more of a “function” guy than form, but I can truly appreciate the beauty and aesthetics that exist in our projects. My priority is that things WORK and look good doing it. Thankfully, design and selections decisions happen before I’m involved in the process. If I was the architect and interior designer, all our homes might be highly functional grey boxes. I do take great pride in building a thing of beauty. The “creativity” in my job equates to creating something that never existed before and will endure. Knowing that a family will spend holidays in what I created is heartwarming. I don’t build houses – I build homes. It’s a real treat to visit a project after the homeowners have moved in and lived in it and with it for a while. Seeing how they decorate and the personal touches they add is awesome.
What is a challenge you’ve faced in life? How did you overcome it?
Two months after marrying the love of my life, Penny, I almost widowed her when I avoided a head-on collision, only to roll the truck over onto its cab and cause me major internal damage. After a brief helicopter ride to Brackenridge Hospital, the skilled trauma surgeons removed my spleen and put me back together. I wouldn’t say that I was completely different before that, but the realization that it was a near-death experience certainly focused my heart on the important things in life. That event has galvanized my resolve to live decent life so that those that know me can be proud of our relationship.
How do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time with my incredible wife, Penny, and our two daughters, Natalie and Shelby. It is so much fun to be the only guy in the house. There’s plenty of girly things going on, but we all play in the dirt and keep busy on our small ranch, raising goats for milk and chickens for eggs. We play as much as we can in our creek (when it’s flowing) and bounce on the trampoline or ride our bikes. Our kids are the center of our universe and they bring us so much joy on a daily basis. We laugh way more than we fuss or cry, but there’s times for those things as well. The most awesome responsibilities I have are being a loving husband and father. I don’t care about being defined any other way.
What is your favorite place on earth?
My favorite place on earth is anywhere in nature with friends and family. I count those times as treasures and try to create them any chance I get.
Who is your hero?
My dad is one of my biggest heroes. He left high school early to enlist in the Air Force and pursue an opportunity to better himself. In the long run, he bettered our entire family. He completed his high school course work and stood out to his superiors. He was chosen to attend Officers Candidacy School and fly. Throughout his flying career, he attended college all over the globe, wherever he was stationed. I was honored to attend his college graduation after he retired. He then got Master’s degree and completed a second noble career with the Texas Department of Public Safety. It’s beyond an honor to call him my dad. He spent his entire life serving our country, state, and his family and friends. I greatly enjoy our time now that he gets to spend with his granddaughters and us. He’s such a great example to me of a loving father and husband. We are blessed to have him in our lives. He was so “handy” as I was growing up. We fixed everything ourselves and that’s where I got some of my skills. I definitely got my sense of service and care for others from my parents.