Monday, Oct. 17, 2011 | 3 a.m.
From experiencing a brief stint with the New York Jets and attending the U.S. Naval Academy to becoming regional president of Harmony Homes, Dave Viger is a high-achieving guy. Viger talked with VEGAS INC about what has made him a success. Here’s a hint: It’s not size or talent. It’s willpower.
What did you learn in the NFL and the Navy that helped you in your business career?
As cool as the NFL is to people, I think I really learned more from my experience in the Navy. Both are similar in that it’s all about winning. Period. You get used to the fact that you have an objective and there’s no excuse not to meet that objective. When you put it in perspective, working in business is pretty simple: You’ve got to win
What was your first job?
I was an umpire in Little League baseball. I was horrible. Or, at least, the fans made me feel like I was bad at it. (Laughing)
What was your worst job?
That’s a tough question. I like to work. I think the toughest job I’ve had was when I first got out of the Naval Academy. I was this big, young football player out of the academy. They didn’t know what to do with me, so they assigned me to breaking up these old, big tanks they used to use for training exercises that became obsolete. I swung a hammer and broke cement for months. It was a good workout!
Do you have a business philosophy you follow?
In my position, it’s all about motivating the people under me. You shouldn’t be afraid to touch everybody — literally. I’m out there shaking hands and meeting people. At the Naval Academy, I learned to lead from the front, not from the rear.
How will you know when the recession is over?
In terms of in the housing business, I don’t think we’ll know we’re out of it until we’re already growing, just as we didn’t know we’d been sinking until we sunk. When profits become steady, what was once normal will feel like a boom to us.
What’s the best advice your mother gave you?
That hugs and tackles aren’t the same thing. When I went to hug her, I’d always accidentally almost knock her over. That probably helped me in the dating world.
What’s the best advice your dad every gave you?
That the guys who make it are not always the most talented. Don’t underestimate work ethic. I don’t know that I’ve ever been the most talented, but I never let outside influences get me down. I was always, somehow, the last man standing.
What’s the one thing you would change about Las Vegas?
That’s a tough one. I love it here. Maybe I’d like people to cherish their roots a little more. Old Vegas is so cool.
What’s the one show you have to DVR every week?
I would have to say “Ghost Adventures.” It is addicting. I don’t TiVo much, but I look forward to that show. It cracks me up.
What’s the one movie you could watch over and over and never tire of?
You say you like baseball. Who’s your team?
I’m a Tigers fan. Most of my family is in the Detroit area.
What’s your favorite vacation spot?
I love the ocean. If there’s a beach, I’m happy.
What kind of car do you drive?
I drive a big, black, F-250 super-duty diesel. It’s not that I’m not trying to do my part to be green; I just can’t fit into a Prius.
What’s the best restaurant in Vegas to close a business deal?
Sedona in Summerlin. It’s easy to get to. I also like King’s Fish House in The District.
What are the two albums you’d want with you on a desert island?
I’d have George Strait, Led Zepplin and Cat Stevens. Cat Stevens was my pre-game music when I was in the NFL.
Anything else to add?
Just that we’ve been through recessions before. Like anything in life, it’s easy to talk about the doom and gloom. The need for shelter won’t ever go away. Now, you have people in this business who are battle tested and battle scarred.