Shortly after turning 72 in October 2021, upstate South Carolina resident Dwayne Bell was in the process of moving to the Lowcountry, in prime position for a long happy retirement. He had logged more than 50 years in the construction and engineering business, made a stellar reputation for Marsh Bell Construction since 1984 and had recently been involved in the selling of the company.
Then Bell realized that he was already happy doing what he had done for the past five decades— except that he needed a new challenge to channel his energies.
So, in March 2022, instead of retiring, Bell stepped away from the company he had co-founded and run for 38 years and started his own consulting business. Bell-Consults LLC was born just east of the Cooper on Daniel Island and acts as a construction consultant and owner’s representative for residential and commercial projects in the Southeast.
“I had long planned to retire to the Charleston area and still wanted to be productive,” said Bell, who moved to Daniel Island in October 2021. “So, after thinking it through for about a year and a half, I decided I wanted to assist owners navigating the complexities of designing and building a construction project.”
One advantage for Bell is there is no learning curve. His new business focuses on the same elements as his previous business — only now, his new endeavor allows him to concentrate solely on anticipating issues before they become expensive, time-consuming problems.
A better candidate for this kind of consulting might be hard to come by. During his long tenure with Marsh Bell in Greenville, South Carolina, Bell designed, built, expanded or renovated more than 2,000 buildings. And he brought 13 years of previous building experience to that company, having started out in 1971 as a field engineer with Stone Container Corporation in Florence, South Carolina.
“I enjoy helping others by sharing from my experience,” Bell remarked. “And having an owner’s representative on your team will save you more money in cost overruns and nerve-racking delays.”
Since mid-2021, construction costs have been at an all-time premium due to supply-chain disruptions, labor shortages, product scarcity and constraints on worldwide shipping. The resulting inflation has forced construction costs to spike to their highest levels in 50 years. Until the cost of building returns to something approaching normal levels, a consultant such as Bell could save money on your next project in every possible way.
“It will practically ensure that your project is a total success,” he said. “And there’s nothing else I’d rather do than what I’ve always done.”
Who knows? After more than 50 years in business, and a brand-new move, Bell may just now be hitting his stride.
By L. C. Leach III