– Words by Susan Lundy Photography by Don Denton
Hello, Dan. You’re well-known on Central Vancouver Island as the man behind the award-winning Sartori Custom Homes. How did you get into the custom homebuilding business?
My father is an Italian immigrant and founded a masonry and homebuilding company the year I was born. Throughout my childhood I was immersed in construction, working weekends and summers as early as 11 years old. My career started out with sweeping floors and cleaning up sites, and even then I enjoyed the dynamic atmosphere of construction sites and always knew I would be involved somehow.
What important lessons did you learn about the business from your father?
The list is long, but the most important thing I learned from my father is the value of hard work. He led by example in showing me how to be efficient and driven. I understand what this is all about, since early on in my career I worked as a stonemason’s labourer. I was solely responsible for erecting scaffold, supplying the masons with (heavy) materials, mixing mortar, site cleanup — the list goes on.
As we worked in a very traditional fashion, I was even responsible for making sure the crew had a comfortable place to eat lunch together on site, not to mention hot coffee. On the coldest of days I would even warm up their vehicles for them. It was difficult but I have fond memories of it.
How did you get to Nanoose Bay?
As we looked to expand Sartori Custom Homes from Calgary in 2016, we always had our sights set on Vancouver Island as an area of potential growth. Just as important for us was this amazing opportunity for our young family. My wife Amy grew up in the Comox Valley and spent a lot of time in the Nanoose Bay area. We always envisioned that sort of outdoors-oriented upbringing for our two young boys — being enriched by everything that nature has to offer as well as being so close to family and friends.
What do you love most about living here?
I am continuously impressed by the business community and the outpouring of support that we have received in a relatively short time, allowing us to become an established and permanent fixture in this community.
Beyond that, the appreciation of beauty around every corner, stepping out each morning to this beautiful island air, mountain biking on world-class trails from our doorstep, watching our sons add to their fort in our forested backyard each day — these are some of the things we love most about living here.
What do you love most about the work?
I thrive on the creativity of it all — seeing a family’s dream home begin on paper, then applying a team of brilliant minds to engineer, design, build, customize and fine-tune a project, right down to the tiniest detail, and all coming together to make that drawing on paper become a reality.
I also enjoy the relationships that I form with my clients during the process of custom homebuilding. This is an experience for which people work hard for much of their lives and I appreciate their trust in me to make their dream home a reality. I aspire to provide and am successful in providing a positive experience in which the clients enjoy the process from start to finish.
What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced?
Perhaps not a challenge, but the decision to move our family to Nanoose Bay was a bold one for us that we embraced in the spirit of adventure. Determining that business would succeed was one thing, but as a family we also shook up our comfortable “Calgary life” to create a new home, make new friends and begin a “Vancouver Island life” for ourselves. We haven’t looked back and continue to move forward excitedly to see what the future holds.
Your homes have won a number of awards — are there one or two in particular of which you are most proud?
We are particularly proud of winning the 2019 VIBE (Vancouver Island Building Excellence) Awards for Best Single Family Home, 3,000 – 4,500 square feet, as well as Best Room, New or Renovation. At the time we were the new kids on the block, and both of these were won with the first project we ever entered in the VIBE Awards, so it was a great honour. We were elated that we were recognized for our individuality as well as our efforts to have this home blend in to its surroundings and the natural topography.
You’re also very involved in the community. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I am a proud member of the board of directors for the Vancouver Island Symphony. I feel that as a fully professional orchestra, it is an immensely important cultural influence in our area. I am in awe each time I attend a concert, and I can see others in the audience who feel the same way. The members of the team at VIS work very hard to bring us these inspiring performances each season, and I will continue to support them every way I can.
What does the future hold for both you and your family?
The future holds more adventures for my family and me one way or another. My home team never lets me down on that! The future of the business looks very bright, with many opportunities for growth lying ahead.