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Women Who Mean Business

Dianna Devore is a Woman Who Means Business

When the chance to purchase Design Fabrication arose in 2010, Devore took her chances. With little knowledge in the field, she boldly sold all of her stock options, 401(k) and ESOP shares to buy the construction and steel company. it paid off.

By Tessa Cooper | Art Direction by Sarah Patton | Makeup by KKD Beauty Café

Mar 2020

Dianna Devore: Owner, Design Fabrication
Photo by Brandon AlmsDianna Devore: Owner, Design Fabrication Purchase Photo

Before taking a sharp career turn, Devore’s resume demonstrated her commitment to working hard yet playing safe. In 1985, she landed her first job at SRC Holdings Corporation as a clerk typist and eventually rose to general manager in 1998. During her 25 years with the company, Devore was able to help SRC’s startup electrical division create quality systems and engineering processes that passed all the audits and set the business up for future success. 

But in the 2000s, Devore decided to purchase a bar and grill with a full management staff as an attempt to earn passive income while she worked full-time. The endeavor didn’t pan out, but like most business missteps, there was a silver lining for Devore. “I think any time you fail, you’re really missing the boat if you don’t learn from it,” she says. “I realized you can’t automatically trust everyone. You have to have systems in place to track them; you have to have accountability and you have to just make sure that the checks and balances are in place. Going into a small family type of environment like that, I think we took some things for granted.”


Fast forward to 2010, and Devore was ready to take another chance. She left her steady job at SRC to enter the unsure world of entrepreneurship. She began taking steps to purchase Design Fabrication, a 19-year-old steel and construction business.  “I don’t know if I chose [Design Fabrication] so much as it chose me,” Devore says. “I was looking for a business to buy, and I wanted to make a product since I came from a manufacturing company. I didn’t want to sell a service, I didn’t want to consult, I wanted to make something tangible because I felt like my skillsets were more aligned with that industry. And manufacturing companies weren’t just out there at my price range.”

While Devore hunted for the right opportunity, Design Fabrication kept resurfacing. She declined the chance to buy the business about four times before she decided that it was truly the right fit. This time, she let go of her safety net by investing her stock options, 401(k) and ESOP shares. Although the stakes were high, the extra money gave her the freedom to fully focus on her new business venture. “It was scary and exhilarating at the same time,” Devore says. “I was confident in the business side, but I wasn’t sure how the industry would think of me, not coming from construction and steel."

“I think any time you fail, you’re really missing the boat if you don’t learn from it.”
— Dianna Devore

She immediately got to work learning everything she could about steel and construction and joined the Springfield Contractors Association. In the beginning, she spent her days soaking in knowledge from her new employees and attending a construction estimating class at OTC.

“My first Springfield Contractors Association general meeting was extremely intimidating due to not knowing anyone and the room being filled primarily with men,” she says. “I also felt self-conscious about my lack of construction and industry knowledge, so I was not very confident. I found out afterward that my banker typically attends those meetings, so I coordinated meeting up with him for the second meeting. He knew everyone and made many introductions, so I became more comfortable working the crowd going forward. I was soon voted onto the board of directors for the organization, where I’m now beginning my third three-year term.”

When she originally joined the board for the Springfield Contractors Association, she was the only woman on the board. Now, there are three women on the board, and Devore is happy to report that more women have joined the local construction industry since then.


Devore has spent the past 10 years more than doubling Design Fabrication’s production volume while still maintaining the small business feel of the organization by only adding an additional five employees. That’s not to say the experience has been without roadblocks, including a noticeable increase in steel prices along with threats of impending tariffs. Before steel prices started to stabilize in late 2018, Devore and her company responded by holding their quotes for only two to three days, even though their previous policy was to hold pricing for 30 to 60 days. 

Through the ups and downs, she’s always believed that it is worth it all. When she drives past a building with her steel, she gets a profound sense of satisfaction.

As for her 10-year plan, she wants to transition her business to a younger generation and continue to serve on the boards for the Springfield Contractors Association, WinTech and Systematic Savings Bank. She also wants to keep giving back through charities like the Child Advocacy Center and Ozarks Food Harvest. And although her investments have recovered from the leap that made her story possible, she wants to continue to diversify her portfolio into other investments. 

MORE ABOUT DIANNA

HOMETOWN

Springfield

FAMILY

Married with one son, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren

FAVORITE WAY TO DECOMPRESS

Golfing, spending time with her grandchildren and creating music for fun with her family

CAREER BREAKTHROUGH

Giving up her investments and stable job to purchase Design Fabrication

ADVICE FOR HER YONGER SELF

“Have confidence in your abilities, and remember that you don’t have to know all of the answers. There are people who are more than willing to share answers with you. When I ask people questions, they’ll go into as much detail as I want, or as little. People, in general, are good and love to teach. And if you fail, learn from it and move on.”

PUMP-UP SONG

“Shut Up And Dance With Me” by Walk the Moon and “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor