Feeling stuck? Add this Fort Wayne entrepreneur's book to your reading list

If you ask entrepreneur-turned-author Nicholas Dancer his secret to success, it could be distilled into one simple, yet profound adage: “Do good work each and every day, and you’ll be rewarded.”

It’s not just a platitude; Dancer lives and breathes this philosophy and has imparted it to his team at Dancer Concrete Design, the Fort Wayne-based company he founded, which specializes in polished concrete floors and epoxy coatings. 

But regardless of what industry you find yourself in, Dancer's recently released book, “Day in, Day Out: The Secret Power in Showing Up and Doing the Work," is full of advice and experiences that can apply. Nicholas Dancer

Written in an essay format, it shows readers that one key secret to avoiding burnout, succeeding at work, and bettering your life is rediscovering the foundational practice of doing your best at small steps toward big goals. In other words, how you do something is how you do everything—and how you set yourself up for a more meaningful life, Dancer argues.

In contrast to a lot of business books on the market today—which Dancer describes as "tactical"—he hopes his message comes across as more accessible to the average person. Throughout the book, he shares how he and his wife, Alexis, have applied simple principles both at home and in scaling Dancer Concrete Design from a small operation to a robust team of 18 that does millions of dollars in sales each year.

While Dancer is leading companies and writing books today, he has put in the hard work on multiple levels over the years. He got into the concrete business in a roundabout way, starting off doing janitorial work in high school in Delphos, Ohio. He initially went into construction after graduation and planned to keep blazing that trail, but life threw him a curveball.

“I got in a motorcycle accident when I was about 20 years old,” Dancer says. “I got t-boned by a car. It messed up my ankle and paused my concrete career for a little while.”

However, the unfortunate situation gave him some perspective and space to ponder what he wanted out of his life and work.

Dancer credits his father-in-law for encouraging him to explore his inner artistic ability. He lent Dancer a book by artist Fu-Tung’s Cheng of Cheng Design who had a school in Berkley, Calif. Cheng is known for teaching people how to use concrete as an artistic medium in residential architecture.

Inspired by this approach, Dancer went to California to spend a week training and learning about the technique from Cheng himself. 

The Clyde's Club Room showcases Dancer's work.

“I remember the first day, we poured blue concrete into a mold, and that was completely different for me,” he recalls. “So I came back from there and started making stuff, using what I knew about concrete from a structural standpoint, and then incorporating some of the things I learned from (Cheng).”

Dancer continued to hone his craft, eventually making concrete countertops and other architectural elements while holding down a retail job. In 2012, he decided to take a leap of faith and go out on his own.

In retrospect, he says it was the right move, although some would have rightly questioned his judgment. 

"It seems like this big, risky thing, but at the time, I had very few responsibilities,” he says. “I had to do it; it wasn't even a choice.” 

So he started small, using customers' deposits to initially fund his business. As of 2020, Dancer Concrete Design is going into nine years of being in business full time. His client list includes many well-known regional companies and organizations, including Conner’s Kitchen & Bar, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission, and Purdue University Fort Wayne, to name a few.

Dancer Concrete Design's Damin Royal in action
In talking about the growth of Dancer Concrete Design, the business owner remains humble.

“It started with me being the primary person with some assistance from some skilled people," Dancer says. "Now, I have a lot of people who are better at their jobs than I could ever be, and my job is to help them grow.”

So what’s next for this local husband, father, and businessman?

He’s currently working on a second book and hopes to release a third one eventually, too.

In the meantime, he hopes readers will find value in his inaugural work. "Day in, Day Out" is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Read more articles by Lauren Caggiano.

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based writer. A 2007 graduate of the University of Dayton, she returned to Northeast Indiana to pursue a career. In the past 12 years she has worked in journalism, public relations, marketing, and digital media. She currently writes for several local, regional, and national publications.
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