Eighth in a series of stories from the latest edition of Inclusion magazine, a Courier publication devoted to the diversity of our community.
WATERLOO, Iowa --- The new home is nearly complete.
The floors are carpeted, the walls painted and Senad Dizdarevic is working at final touches --- a last piece of trim here, cabinet hardware there.
Walking around the five-bedroom house in Cedar Falls, the builder can't help making constant checks on tiny details. He runs his finger down the edge of a granite countertop, peers up at the trim around a closet door.
Dizdarevic is a craftsman, mastering the work and the ethic passed down to him by his father decades ago in Bosnia. He came to Waterloo in 2004 after fleeing that war-torn country to work in Germany for five years. Eventually he landed in Waterloo and picked up a job working for Trost Design. A few years later, Dizdarevic went to work for Prairie Cabinet Co., honing his carpentry skills before venturing out on his own.
By the time he started his own company, Dizdarevic Construction, he had a host of clients ready. The steady demand for his services spurred him to become an entrepreneur. Much of that demand was filtered through the Bosnian community in the early going.
"There's almost 4,000 Bosnians in Waterloo. They almost all have American friends. They would ask, 'Where can I find a good carpenter?' I kept having people ask me to do work," Dizdarevic said.
Dizdarevic relishes the opportunity to solve problems for clients.
Dizdarevic takes satisfaction in designing and building just the right custom cabinet or bar or you name it for his customers.
"I was busy almost from the first day," Dizdarevic said.
He still gets 90 percent of his business from word of mouth.
"I would start to get a lot of calls from, say, someone I built a fireplace for, and they would want a table or a bed or doors."
Dizdarevic said people's tastes in home finishes differ around the world. For example, in Germany he found a preference for laminate cabinets with more color than is found here. He says choosing cabinets there is more like choosing a car: There is a variety of colors, including metallic flake patterns.
The heart and soul of Dizdarevic's business is remodeling jobs, but in the past few years he's taken to building homes on his own. For the most part, it fills a void in the winter and ensures his four employees and stable of subcontractors keep busy.
Much of his work is done in a Waterloo workshop. That's where he crafts cabinets and other items before bringing them to the homes where they will be used. He has about 10 designs for cabinets, not like the scores of choices from manufacturers.