For nearly four decades, Charles David Moody of C.D. Moody Construction (CDM) has had a hand in constructing some of the most recognizable buildings in Atlanta.
Headquartered in Lithonia, Ga., Moody’s successful firm also is considered one of the country’s top Black-owned construction companies.
Whether a resident of Atlanta or a visitor to the city, chances are you have been to one of the many buildings his company helped build.
The list of projects in the CDM portfolio is an extensive one and includes landmarks like Underground Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Stadium, the Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Philips Arena, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, several buildings on the campus of Morehouse College and the Cyclorama painting.
But Moody’s rise to the top of the construction industry wasn’t easy.
He started his company in 1988 when there were only a handful of Black-owned construction companies in the nation, if not the world.
“All I wanted out of life was a good job and to take care of my family. I never dreamed I’d be doing what I’m doing,” said the 1978 Morehouse College graduate. “I grew up during the Civil Rights Movement, so I never saw a Black builder. I never saw a Black architect. Those kinds of things didn’t exist. Plus, we were barely even having businesses.”
Moody got his big break after several years of setbacks.
After relocating to Atlanta in 1983, Moody and his wife of one year found themselves jobless after the company he came to work for went bankrupt after two months.
“We were so broke,” said the father of two when asked why he started his own construction company. “We had nothing to lose.”
“It was scary — really scary — and we needed a second income,” said Carla Moody, who met her future husband when they were teenagers. “I got a job as a nurse to help support us until things got better. But I never thought it would get as big as it did.”
CDM began to experience success four years into his entrepreneurship.
“I would say, when we did the Olympic stadium, that’s when I realized this really might work out,” said Moody.
Since then, Moody’s company has developed more than $2 billion worth of projects. With a staff made up primarily of African Americans, CDM has provided Black employees the opportunities of leadership and visibility while making a name for itself in Atlanta and the construction industry.
Accolades, too, have come in for Moody.
“In 1991, I was the first Black to win the small businessperson of the year award from the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “I’ve won many awards in my 32 years of business, but my greatest accomplishment is not all of the buildings. In 32 years, I’ve never missed a payroll and that’s not easy to do in business.”
Among several other projects around the city, CDM is currently working with Morris Brown College to rehabilitate one of its historic dormitories.
At 64 years old, Moody has no plans to retire. His love for construction, he explained, has shifted to “building people.” He enjoys mentoring students and young professionals, especially small business owners.
His advice to entrepreneurs is simple.
“Dream extremely big because I exceeded my dreams in ‘92,” said Moody. “I didn’t dream big enough.”
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