BETHEL ISLAND − When asked about his professional philosophy, Dan Phippen cites the slogan of his company, Delta Pacific Builders Inc: “Quality from start to finish.” “I take pride in providing quality experiences for my customers, from the time I introduce myself until the follow up after the job,” he says. However, while this slogan sums up Dan’s approach to running his business, it can also be interpreted as a defining theme for his 43-year career, which has been characterized by an enduring desire for excellence.
Dan grew up on the East Coast and got started in the construction industry at an early age. “I started right out of high school and worked my way up through the trades as an apprentice,” he recounts. “When I was 21, I got my contractor’s license and started my own roofing, siding, and gutter company.” However, just as he’d begun to establish his business in Virginia, a casual visit to the West Coast changed his whole world. “I came out to see a friend and just fell in love with California. When I got home, I sold my half of the business to my partner, packed up my things and headed west.”
Newly transplanted in the Bay Area, Dan picked up where he’d left off and went to work for Bel Aire Engineering in Hayward, where he became acquainted with new aspects of his trade. “I really enjoyed working for Bel Aire because it gave me the opportunity to do things that not many companies were doing at the time, like working with aluminum patio covers and awnings,” he says. In 1981, just a few years after arriving in the Bay Area, Dan acquired his California contractor’s license and founded Delta Pacific Builders.
Today, Dan says his favorite part of his job continues to be the physical work itself, though he admits it may be time to put on the brakes. “I really enjoy the work, but at my age, I’m getting to the point where I can’t hang with the big dogs anymore. I should probably be resting my body a little more than I do.”
Residing on Bethel Island with his wife, Claudia, Dan says he appreciates the slow pace that characterizes his locale. “I really like the laid-back atmosphere here in the Bethel Island/Brentwood area. It’s off the beaten path yet still close to everything. Best of all, I don’t have to deal with that freeway commute traffic every day.”
Outside of work, Dan spends much of his time out on the water. “The Delta is one of the main reasons I moved out here,” he says. “I used to fish in the professional bass tournament circuit, so when I found out the Delta was here, I gravitated to it like a duck to water.” Dan also enjoys keeping up with his two grown children: Danny, who works alongside him at Delta Pacific Builders (“I enjoy working with my son, although it’s probably more enjoyable for me than it is for him,” he laughs), and Lynn Marie, who lives in Pennsylvania.
When asked what his future retirement might look like, Dan says he’ll likely still be involved in his lifelong trade, if only to keep busy. “I don’t know if it’s in my DNA to retire. I’ll probably keep my hand in construction one way or another. Besides, my wife doesn’t want me hanging around the house and I can’t stand daytime television.”