FREDERICK, Md. — After a career that took him from the classroom to the boardroom, Triple Crown Construction founder Dave Rapp has officially retired, the company announced in a recent news release.
Rapp started the organization in 1991 and transformed it into a hotel renovations and commercial construction project firm.
Rapp had a passion for construction from an early age, according to a report from the company. He took on design and drafting projects on his own time while in high school, and he studied civil technology and industrial education in college.
He taught mechanical drafting and architecture at Wootton High School for 10 years and then taught industrial design as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland until a position with Marriott Hotels allowed him to put his passion into practice, according to the release.
At first Rapp worked for Marriott’s restaurant design department. He then managed staff in both hotel and restaurant departments at the company.
Building off this experience, he founded Triple Crown Design & Construction, which served as a consultant for a number of commercial organizations, particularly in the hotel renovation space.
Marriott was one of the company’s first clients, and its reputation grew.
With that growth, Rapp knew he needed to scale up from his family basement-based office (with just himself and a single part-time assistant on the staff). He brought on his colleague Dennis Haeder — whom he met back in his teaching days, but had also worked alongside during his time at Marriott.
At that point, Rapp didn’t foresee Triple Crown growing into the legacy it is today, having opened a large office in Frederick, employing dozens of talented employees, and operating at a multimillion annual revenue rate, according to the release.
Rapp is passing on these accomplishments to the current president, Chris Rapp, his son.
When the firm started, it was taking one client at a time.
“In 1991 I had no idea where I’d be in 1998, much less 2018,” Dave Rapp said in the news release. “But I enjoyed every day, and I’m fortunate to be where I am today and to have guided Triple Crown through more than two excellent decades.”
Early on, Triple Crown focused on simple hospitality renovation projects, such as updating carpets, furniture, doors and other “cosmetic” aspects, while also undertaking commercial projects such as restaurants and tenant fit-outs.
Over time, with advancements in design elements and technology, the company was able to offer large, strategic remodels for client properties. That embrace of new technologies is something that Dave Rapp expects Chris to lean into in the new era of Triple Crown.
Chris Rapp began working for Triple Crown while in high school as a simple laborer on remodel sites and worked his way up the levels of management until being named president, according to the release.
Since he has been with the company for many years, Chris Rapp taking the helm has been a smooth transition for employees as well as customers, who are still working with the same project managers and teams as they have in the past.
“Strong leadership is what allows companies to succeed in the long-term,” Dave Rapp said. “It starts from the top. One of my best moments at Triple Crown was the first time I suggested a course of action and Chris replied, ‘We don’t do it that way anymore.’ While a more prideful person might have been wounded by this, I was overjoyed to see that I was able to instill in him the ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances, and not stick to something just because that’s the way it was done in the past.”
Dave Rapp will remain in a consulting role with Triple Crown so the company can still benefit from his decades of experience, according to the release.