Our Story

Fifty years ago, DAI was three founders and one idea. The idea was simple: do development differently and do it better. Don Mickelwait, John Buck, and Charlie Sweet called their new company Development Alternatives Inc. DAI.

In the five decades since that day in May 1970, we have worked in virtually every country on the planet (still waiting on you Taiwan). Despite some false starts and failed experiments, we have enjoyed enormous success and grown beyond the wildest dreams of the founders. We have evolved beyond all recognition.

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A Message from Tony Barclay

Tony Barclay joined DAI in 1977, became President in 1990, and served as CEO from 1999 to 2008. We were delighted to receive this video from Tony as we mark our fiftieth anniversary. Thank you, Tony, for your generous reflections, and for your many years of leadership at DAI and within our industry.

A Message from Don Mickelwait

Don Mickelwait is one of DAI’s three founders and a former CEO of the firm. We were delighted to receive this video from Don on the occasion of our fiftieth anniversary. Thank you, Don, for this gracious message, and for everything you have done to make DAI what it is today.

A Message from the CEO

On May 6, 2020, DAI President and CEO Jim Boomgard sent the following “birthday message” to all DAI staff.

Happy Birthday, DAI!

Today is DAI’s 50th birthday. Only a third of businesses survive past their 10th year and only one in 10 make it to the age of 25. The average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 index of leading U.S. companies has decreased by more than 50 years in the past century, from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today. DAI is in rarified air.

Needless to say, we never expected to be marking DAI’s 50th anniversary in the throes of a pandemic. COVID-19 has certainly caused us to rethink how we’ll be celebrating—if celebrate is even the right word to use in the midst of such adversity.

We won’t be having the party we had planned for Bethesda. We won’t be hosting an event in Brussels. We won’t be spending the money we had set aside for our milestone—partly because we need to husband our resources, mostly because it just isn’t right to be focusing on ourselves at what is such a trying time for so many people.

So we are setting our plans aside, at least for the time being.

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The DAI Timeline