Dan Loney: Building and Basketball

Dan Loney: Building and Basketball

Questions & Answers with community faces

Dan Loney (34) was raised in Benzonia as the third child out of eight. His parents, Dave (63) and Kate (61) Loney, were both entrepreneurs: dad was a licensed builder and a mason by trade, and mom was a nurse who founded The Homesteader, an assisted living facility located next to the Loney family home.  

Dan Loney graduated in 2008 from Benzie Central High School, where he was named “all-state honorable mention” for football by the Detroit Free Press. However, basketball would end up being the sport that he continued into his college career—Loney “walked on” to the team at Western Michigan University, notably where his older sister Jenny had also played for four years. (Additionally, Dan’s cousin, Brenna [Nugent] Banktson had been named Miss Michigan Basketball during her senior year of high school in 2006 and also attended WMU, where she played for four years, as well.) 

In 2014, Dan Loney graduated from WMU with a Bachelor of Science degree in education. He worked part-time at Lakeside Academy, a juvenile detention center, for a year before moving back to Benzie County and marrying Ashley Giglio (38), who he had been dating since the summer before his senior year of high school, seven years prior. (The couple’s first child, Vaeda, was born in 2015, followed by Daxton in 2017, Laela in 2019, Danny in 2021, and Charlee in 2023. And yes, before you make the joke, the Loneys have five children, which is enough to field their own basketball team and continue their family’s hoops dynasty; more on that below.)  

Although Loney had a degree in education, he had spent a lifetime helping his father—and later his brother-in-law—with building projects, and he had taken “Building Trades” as a class at Benzie Central High School. Dan had also grown up helping the family business, The Homesteader, where he would assist with maintenance and repairs and could also be found in the kitchen cooking and baking alongside his mother and late-grandmother, Marilyn Nye. 

Over the years, Loney found that he quite enjoyed working with his hands.  So in 2019, Loney began building a name for himself in the building world and working with a small crew; then in 2021, Loney took the exam and obtained his builder’s license. Later that same year, he founded Loney Custom Construction, which specializes in new construction, decking, and siding.

Still, Loney found ways to use his teaching degree—and to keep basketball in the picture.

When Loney moved back to Benzie County, his younger siblings were attending Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools, and he decided during the 2014-15 season to start helping out by coaching basketball, of which his brothers, David, Mason, and Matt, played.   

After five years as the assistant coach for the Frankfort High School Varsity Boys Basketball team, the head coaching position became available in 2018. During his first season as head coach in 2018-19, Loney took his team to the Breslin Center as State Runner-Ups; in 2020-21, the Panthers made it to the quarterfinals but lost; in 2021-22, the Frankfort boys made it through districts but lost during regionals; in 2022-23, they won the quarterfinals but came up short in semifinals. Notably, the team has won districts every year since Loney became the head coach.  

Continuing with our interview series on impactful Benzie County characters, The Betsie Current caught up with Loney as he was framing a new home on Crystal Lake, before heading to basketball practice. 

The Betsie Current: What made you want to be a business owner? And why construction, specifically?

Dan Loney: I grew up in a home with entrepreneurs. My mom and dad had a vision—they took a risk when others said “no,” and they still to this day have a very successful business. I was one of eight kids, and we were a very busy family. My parents owning their own business gave them the flexibility to always be there for us and support us, and I wanted the same thing for my family. Why construction? Well, it kind of fell in my lap. My late brother-in-law, Jay Lamerson [married to my older sister, Jenny], built a home for my wife and me. He needed some help in the process, so I helped him to build my home. He was also one of my “building trades” teachers back in high school, so this all came full circle; pretty cool! After a few years of being on my own, I knew it was time to become a licensed builder, so I took the test, and the rest is history. My dad was also a licensed builder and a mason by trade. I grew up on job sites with him, and like most little boys, I wanted to be like my dad. 

Current: What does a typical day of work look like for you? 

Loney: I get up early in the morning to get everyone on track and collect anything that is needed to complete the task for that day. I always meet my crew at the job site and help get the day started. Some days, I sneak away for a meeting or two at my office or even meet delivery trucks at upcoming projects. But generally, I work at the job site with the crew. Winter time is a bit more crazy, as I’m also the Varsity Boys Basketball coach at Frankfort High School. So from November through March, my workdays get cut a bit short, so that I can head to practice or a game—those five months are non-stop and very busy, but I wouldn’t change anything. 

Current: How have you seen your work grow and change? How do you hope that it will continue to grow? What is next?

Loney: I started out with just small odds-and-ends jobs, weekend jobs, decks, and small renovations and then worked all the way up to framing new construction and completing siding projects. Our community is growing every year. I pride myself on building relationships with my clients, which have led to repeat clients and word-of-mouth recommendations. I have two strong and hard-working crews of seven) guys who make this all possible. Over time, some of the crew will become project leaders, and we will expand our team.

Current: You mentioned coaching basketball, and we want to hear more about that. Also, what other things do you do for fun, when you are not working? How did you get involved with those things, and why are you passionate about these causes?  

Loney: My wife and I just welcomed our fifth child this past October. Whether it is youth sports, family events, or finally getting a chill day at home, it’s non-stop action for us. We enjoy being outside as much as possible. We are big rock hounds, so heading to the cabin and going on adventures are always a strong possibility. Being a father of five and a business owner keep me very busy, and as I mentioned, the boys basketball season may only be five months, but coaching is a year-round commitment. I grew up playing basketball at Benzie Central. After high school, I “walked on” at Western Michigan University, where I played three years and graduated with my Bachelor’s of Science degree. When I returned home in 2014, my younger brothers—David, Mason and Matt—were still playing basketball at Frankfort, and so I joined the coaching staff. After five years as the assistant coach, the head coaching position became available, and I’ve been in that position since. Basketball has always been in my blood, and it always will be. Many people look at basketball as just a game; I see it as so much more than that. Basketball, to me, is a brotherhood; it’s a chance to grow from a kid to an adult, to take on challenges, and to learn from new experiences that everyday life doesn’t present, and you are taught about being a team and how we all have our roles in life. Basketball also teaches accountability, as well as mental toughness, which I feel are very important traits to have. I know for a fact that I would not be half the man I am today if it weren’t for the discipline and structure that basketball gave me. 

Current: How have you seen Benzie County/Northern Michigan change since you grew up here? What are your hopes for the area in the future?

Loney: I am a Benzie County native and love everything about it. I have seen our summers get busier and busier every year. Benzie County has really increased in popularity; I feel like our little community has grown so much. Property and homes don’t last very long once they hit the market—with that comes more opportunity for business. I hope we can continue to grow as a community and area but are still able to keep that small-town feel. 

Current: What are the biggest challenges and rewards of living/working in Northern Michigan, in general? What is the best or most rewarding part of your job?

Loney: My biggest challenge is the four seasons. We have extreme heat to extreme cold within months of each other.  The weather plays a huge factor in our trade. So, from a professional standpoint, it can be tough, but from a personal standpoint, the seasons are what I look forward to. It can be a double-edged sword. My job as a contractor is incredibly rewarding. I get to work with great people who have a vision, and I help to bring that to life; whether it’s design or color, the end product tells the story. Even renovations that have “before and afters” are very fulfilling. For instance, I just finished a Crystal Lake siding renovation. It was a beautiful cottage that just needed a facelift from its original exterior. I got to work with the original owner, who is a grandfather now, and he—along with his children and other family members—had input in the new look of the cottage. It was a generational remodel, and everyone had input and loved the overall improvement. It was a win-win for all involved. 

Current: What could Northern Michigan do to attract more and/or retain talented people in this area? What else does Northern Michigan need?

Loney: Every trade is so different, so it’s hard to say for them, but I know for myself and my crew—I try to focus on a healthy work/life balance. It’s hard to motivate a crew when everyone feels burnt out. So I really try to foster a sense of belonging and valuing their role. It’s important that we all work together and can see the end product. All of my crew members bring something to the table. We’re all different people and offer different perspectives and different ways of doing things. One way is not the only way. I truly feel that is why this crew is so strong.

Current: What are your favorite local events and activities? Any favorite dining, recreation, hiking spots?

Loney: As I mentioned, my family and I love being outside. We enjoy so many of the local events offered in our community. The 4th of July parades in Frankfort and Beulah and the fireworks at the beach, along with the Fall Festivals. are a few of our favorites. For our everyday festivities, we take pleasure in walking the “bunny trails” down at the Betsie River Dam, which is really close to where I grew up. I did it as a kid every day during the warm months, and now I love seeing my children doing the same. We’ll walk upriver and play in the shallow waters while looking for fish and frogs. We hike our property a lot, looking for more rocks or dropped antlers—we love the hunt! Once we are hungry, we’ll head to one of our favorite restaurants—the Roadhouse, Cabbage Shed, or Frankz!

Current: What does your perfect winter day look like in Benzie County? How would you spend it?

Loney: A perfect winter day is a sunny one! Hahaha.I’m used to working in the cold, so it doesn’t really bother me much. We’ll cruise the property on our snowmobile or head out to a sledding hill that my parents developed a few years back for all of their grandkids—we turn on the tow rope and sled all day!

Loney Custom Construction offers an end-to-end client experience that includes seamless communication, budgeting, on-site organization, and solid, quality handiwork every time. They work with a designer to produce beautiful, functional structures. Call/text Loney Custom Construction at 231-651-5040, visit “Loney Custom Construction” on Facebook, @LoneyCustomConstruction on Instagram, or LoneyCustomConstruction.com online to see examples of completed projects.

Featured Photo Caption: Dan Loney (34) is a builder and a basketball coach. Photo courtesy of the Loney family.

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Aubrey Parker

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