Douglas Dillard finds success in adversity in his personal life and his work as CFO at St. Christopher Holdings, a private equity, and real estate investment firm. Douglas chose to not let a disability, spastic diplegia, which is a form of cerebral palsy, slow down his adult or professional life. He has successfully completed over 30 marathons, including the Boston and NYC Marathons, and 3 MS150, 150 bike rides in a handcycle, an upper-body powered bike, and also a wheelchair. He is heavily involved with several adaptive groups including donating adaptive equipment and financial sponsorship to the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (in Colorado) and is also an advisory board member of Achilles International, an organization that inspires others with physical disabilities to get active. Douglas is involved in many adaptive sports, such as mono-skiing, golf, basketball, lacrosse, tennis, and of course, handcycling.
Douglas has over 20 years of experience with finance and accounting leadership roles, across industries such as utility development, mortgage banking, credit card portfolio servicing, stone fabrication and distribution, surfacing, luxury real estate development, and retail. When Douglas rejoined Roberto Contreras at St. Christopher Holdings, after a brief stint in public accounting, Roberto challenged him to build a sustainable structure for his new ventures in real estate and mortgage banking. At the time, St. Christopher had very few policies or procedures, no infrastructure, no scalability, but several very interesting ventures. Douglas quickly overhauled the IT system and created a cloud and file-sharing network. He worked closely with the heads of the real estate and investor-relation departments to ensure everyone had the appropriate amount of visibility and information. With the mortgage bank, he successfully implemented KPI reporting systems, assisted their conversion to their first ERP, and worked with leadership to hire a CFO, and other key management positions.
Douglas has a unique position for the entities under the St. Christopher umbrella, as most are without key Executive leadership at the beginning, so he and Roberto must step into the roles of CEO and CFO. As CFO of DC Partners, an award-winning, Houston-based mixed-use real estate development company, Douglas has sourced over $250MM in construction financing a He also sourced the company’s first construction insurance policies for the group and closely manages the ongoing risk profiles.
As a private equity partner, Douglas has worked closely with Roberto Contreras, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award winner, for over 20 years. Roberto and Douglas work daily to establish scalable operational businesses, work with the real estate development leaders, and marketing, to “think big” and aggressively seek out marquise projects and businesses. Their intention is to establish, build, structure, and organize the business with an eye to profitability. Teamwork is a critical component, with so many stakeholders and personalities. “He demonstrates rigorous honesty and integrity, and because of this, people trust him leading to harmonious business dealings,” says Roberto Contreras, CEO, and president of St. Christopher Holdings. “Doug has a gift for motivating others to succeed and enjoys being a mentor. He truly embodies all the characteristics of an outstanding team player.”
The company has a few other holdings, but Douglas is also very proud of its Moderno Porcelain Works investment. Moderno Porcelain Works specializes in the fabrication and installation of ultra-luxe large-format porcelain panels in residential and commercial markets. As the only company in North America using specialized state-of-the-art fabrication machines and a proprietary installation process, they are 100% dedicated to porcelain.
Customers love their multiple surface applications for this beautiful marble-like material, such as bathroom vanities, shower walls, fireplaces, countertops, backsplashes, flooring, and even outdoor applications such as outdoor grills, pools, and exterior cladding. St. Christopher Holdings, through Moderno, is the turn-key solution provider to bring this beautiful material into job completion, a reality for the entire country.
Douglas is one of the founding partners in Moderno and has touched every area under the umbrella since its inception in 2019. He works daily with the Moderno leadership team, as acting CFO, to ensure Moderno has the planning, technology, and capital to continue its growth trajectory. Douglas oversees IT, finance, accounting, and risk management of Moderno. Moderno currently has around 300 employees.
Douglas considers himself a service-oriented leader, who makes someone else’s job more effective, establishing visibility through information, guidance on his past experiences, and a careful eye toward the future. “I don’t pretend to be an expert in all areas, and quite frankly, our culture is to empower others. Emotional intelligence is essential, even more so today. Gone are the days of patriarchal leadership where assignments are pushed down,” he explains. “Delegation is critical, but I feel more of a sensitive leader, calming down stressful situations, having the backs of my employees, and providing positive feedback/teaching. In many ways, I am the quarterback of the company, but without the team, I am nothing.”
One of the most significant achievements for St. Christopher Holdings and Douglas is leading the company(s) through the pandemic. “During COVID, the economy was very uncertain, our CEO and I sat in an empty office for many weeks brainstorming how to keep our employees and continue operating under extraordinary circumstances,” elucidates Dillard. “Through many solutions, including PPP and close cash-flow management, we didn’t lose anyone. We maintained the growth of our newer entities, despite the incredible challenges. I believe it built trust in our workforce, despite many employees having no idea how close we came to economic disaster.”
St. Christopher Holdings, Ltd is a privately owned holding company based in Houston, Texas. St. Christopher maintains holdings in companies that demonstrate strong business models, invest in people, products, and technology, and maintain a strong commitment to growth—utilizing a proven vetting process. St. Christopher Holdings analyses each investment opportunity to identify potential partners who meet strict criteria. Our holdings are companies poised for growth but lack the capital and managerial assets to meet their goals.
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