From working out of his bedroom, Charles David Moody has built a construction firm that has completed nearly $3 billion in work

BY Preta Peace Namasaba March 18, 2024 12:10 PM EDT
Charles David Moody. Photo credit: Howard University

In debt and struggling to make ends meet, Charles David Moody did not have anything to lose when he set out to establish his own construction company in 1988. He took out a loan with the support of his wife and used their bedroom as the first office. Navigating hardship, childhood trauma and an emotional breakdown, Moody has built one of the largest construction firms in the country. C.D. Moody Construction has completed over 200 commercial projects that are worth nearly $3 billion.

“I worked for some small construction companies and a very large construction company and this might sound strange, but it just kind of happened. I had reached a point where my wife and I said we don’t have anything to lose, so let’s give it a try. That is how it all happened. Our first office was our bedroom,” Moody said about his modest beginning.

Growing up in Chicago’s southside, Moody loved to build towers out of red and yellow plastic bricks. His life was however fundamentally altered when he was abused at 10 years old by the son of a trusted neighborhood friend who helped take care of Moody on a night Moody’s parents had been out.

Fortunately, Moody’s father, a teacher all his life, got a job as vice provost of the University of Michigan and the family left Chicago. The young Moody would later try to bury the memories of his abuse. He received a bachelor’s in psychology from Morehouse College and a professional degree in architecture from Howard University. In 1981, he began his professional career as an architect and field engineer for Bechtel Power Corporation. He also taught structural design and mechanical systems at Washtenaw Community College. Although Moody appreciated his job, he remained committed to the idea of building.

He was enamored by the noise and action from a field assignment visit to a nuclear power plant. Moody thought that he would be average at architecture but great at construction. He relocated to Atlanta and completed his first project at Dobbins Air Force Base for the bonding company in 1986. After the death of his employer, Moody decided to establish his own construction firm.

Although the idea for C.D. Moody Construction Company came with ease, building the company was an uphill task. He used his bedroom as the company’s first office and took out a $4,000 loan with the support of his wife. Moody caught a lucky break when he won a small contract to help build Underground Atlanta which eventually became one of the city’s most substantial attractions. He soon received his first million-dollar contract working on Grady Hospital and has been a part of many of Atlanta’s elite projects.

Four years into the business, Moody began experiencing panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder and had a complete nervous breakdown. This was triggered by finding out that a close family member on his wife’s side had been an abuser. After more than two decades of trying to bury his childhood abuse,  Moody told his wife his secret. He had undergone numerous medical tests and realized through therapy that the attacks were connected to the abuse that he had tried so hard to ignore for most of his adult life. While he was crumbling on the inside, Moody was also part of the team seeking to build the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta.

“Even with the success I’ve had, I have had to push myself to gain self-esteem. I’m still dealing with it. It’s taken me up until now to be at peace. With architecture or construction, you are either rebuilding or creating something. That’s what I like about my life — it’s a continuing building process. I’m finally finding out who I am as a sexual abuse survivor,” Moody said about how work helped him deal with his childhood trauma.

As he built CD Moody Construction, Moody was also continuously rebuilding himself as a survivor of abuse. His firm has built and delivered more than 200 commercial projects valued at around $3 billion. Recent projects include the new home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, the Mercedes Benz Stadium, the Maynard Jackson International Concourse at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

In  2019, Moody became a 49 percent partner in an affordable and market-rate housing, restaurants, retail, offices, and a performing arts center construction deal worth $650 million. Specializing in aviation, collegiate, commercial, K-12, municipal, nonprofit, retail facilities, and historic renovations, CD Moody Construction is nationally renowned for its wide range of construction services such as design/build, new construction, renovation, and construction management at-risk.

Today, Moody is giving back to the community. He founded the C.D. Moody Foundation which provides financial assistance for students with a passion for construction and entrepreneurship. He has funded endowed scholarships at Morehouse College, Howard University, Georgia Perimeter College and Central State University. Moody devotes time to K-12 students in whom he instills the endless possibilities that come with hard work, perseverance, and a positive attitude. His book “Fighting through the Fear – My Journey of Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse,” describes his journey as a childhood sexual abuse survivor.