Meet the Ureñas
Dave and Laurel Ureña joined the hygge fam like they have always been a part of it. Snagging and office at our camp north end location, the husband/wife duo runs Banneker LLC, a civil engineering firm named after Benjamin Banneker, an African-American naturalist, mathematician, astronomer and almanac author who lived in the late 1700s.
Dave founded Banneker in July 2018, at a time when his wife Laurel had her own environmental services company called Montani Semper Liberi. When Laurel had to close her company during the pandemic in 2021, the pair joined forces and have been working together ever since.
“I was inspired to start my own firm largely based on Laurel’s company and seeing her venture into entrepreneurship,” Dave says.
Working with your spouse is no easy feat, even though on the outside the Ureñas make it look not only easy, but fun. The pair are outgoing at our hygge camp north end location and make fast friends everywhere we’ve seen them go. We wanted to learn a bit more about Banneker and how they juggle their dual roles as spouses and business partners, so we sent Dave a few questions. Check them out:
What do each of you do for the business? What are your individual areas of expertise?
Laurel and I definitely wear many different hats at the company. I am CEO and CFO and she is COO, CMO, and CIO. As far as civil engineering goes as a practice area, it can be split up into separate categories – design (utilities and drainage modeling), plans production (drawings in AutoCAD), and permitting. I mainly handle design while Laurel mainly handles plans production and permitting. We tend to intertwine the roles a bit sometimes.
What’s the best thing about running business with your partner? What’s the hardest thing?
I personally think maintaining professionalism and morale is of utmost importance when running a business with your spouse. We pass around a special ruler called an engineering scale in order to take turns speaking when opinions are high – or opposed; many different design approaches can lead to the same solution! Scheduling in special romantic dates are very important for keeping the fire going because the stress of business dealings can dry up the relationship.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve each learned as business owners?
Developing discipline in your daily life is important to having desired outcomes. Working on your own, there’s no supervisor looking over your shoulder, so having drive to get projects done and staying accountable to yourself and your partner is key to making sure we are turning around high-quality designs that meet our clients’ schedules. In real estate sales, you always hear: “location, location, location.” In real estate development (our clients’ world), it’s: “schedule, schedule, schedule!”
What are some of the things you like to do outside of work?
Laurel is into playing Dungeons & Dragons every week with a few friends in NoDa. As most of hygge probably knows at this point, I enjoy riding my Onewheel. I also enjoy writing, performing, and listening to stand-up comedy, and hanging out in bars in Plaza Midwood. We both enjoy watching documentaries, hiking, camping, live music, road trips, and having fun with our miniature boxer, Liv. You may even see her perched at her desk window from time to time, lounging comfortably beneath the “do not knock” sign.
What are your favorite things about Charlotte?
What’s there not to love in Charlotte!?! It’s the most viable city around! Great weather, lots of things to do, and nice people (until you put them behind the steering wheel, lol) For Laurel, I’d have to say it’s the hills and mountains. She’s a mountain girl, raised in West Virginia, so she seems to be happy in a place with more views and hiking options.
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