The Centra Homes Blog

Centra Companies: An Idea Fueled By Passion

March 6th, 2023

By Dale Wills, Founder of Centra Companies

Real estate is an industry with dozens of paths to go down. There’s lending, building, selling and developing. I’ve always loved making a difference in communities and in people’s lives, which led me to property redevelopment. But when the real estate market collapsed during the Great Recession, the national home builder I worked for took a big hit financially, as so many builders did. After nearly three decades in redevelopment, I had to take a step back and reassess my career and what I was really passionate about. Instead of working for another redeveloper, I decided to launch my own company, and in 2011, Centra Companies was born.

A New Chapter

During the market downturn in 2008, I had a lot of decisions to make and began looking for a new job. I considered several other options, but I knew I never wanted to leave real estate altogether because every day is a new challenge and unique. Plus, making a positive impact on communities fuels me. During my search, I found that I was overqualified for most positions at the time, and the openings that were a good fit had an immense amount of competition. Plus, my family and I loved Minnesota and didn’t want to move.

Because I’m naturally wired to take on challenges and had been successfully self-employed in the past, I decided to create my own opportunity. So, I took the plunge and started Centra Companies. Over the past 12 years, we’ve built thousands of homes and dozens of housing developments across the Twin Cities metro area. Our secret ingredient is building relationships and maintaining them. We have extensive knowledge of the market and surrounding areas, so we know what works, what people are looking for and what will be successful. And we’ve been very successful! Centra Companies has transformed 28 Twin Cities suburbs with more than 50 projects.

Making a Difference

Most people’s formative memories are from the neighborhood where they grew up. It’s where they learned to throw a ball, ride a bike or celebrate holidays with their families. It’s amazing for me and my team at Centra Companies to play a small part in creating those memories. I will periodically drive through neighborhoods we’ve built, and it’s such a thrill. Families are out on the front porches, people are walking their dogs and kids are playing on driveways.

I love creating and building things. In real estate, we can take a building that has served its purpose in the community and develop it into a new place where people can create new memories. We live and work in these communities and have a vested interest in seeing them succeed.

As I look at the trajectory of my career, the advice I wish I had received early on is never to limit myself. Despite that unexpected turn in 2008, I continued to follow my passion, and it paid off — not only for me but also for those who invested in my dream and for the communities we help to build and transform.