Dennis J. DaSilva (74A, 78C)
Award: 2010 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
Achievements: The qualities that make Dennis J. DaSilva (74A, 78C) a successful entrepreneur can easily be summed up by one of his business colleagues, Thomas McGuire of AirHydroPower in Louisville, Ky.
“Honesty and integrity in business are rare qualities these days,” McGuire stated. “But Dennis still does business the old fashioned way — his word is his bond. Legal contracts are not needed to document what he says he will do: if he says it, it happens!”
Those traits have served Dennis well as one of the cofounders of the Detroit Haven Group Project, an initiative designed to rebuild communities within the historic center of Detroit by revitalizing distressed properties through refurbishment and repurposing. Their mission is to create safe and affordable urban living environments for all socioeconomic levels. The project works with residents to develop strategies to create economically viable mixed-income communities. Detroit Haven Group’s current program along Detroit’s historic Woodward Avenue looks to create more than 400 jobs for the Michigan economy.
An alumnus who earned both his high school diploma and his college degree on the world’s largest campus, Dennis has found success again and again in the years since graduation.
As an entrepreneur, he has founded or cofounded six different LLCs and S corporations during his long career. His flagship is Alliance Sales in Troy, Mich., a manufacturers’ representative company.
Before striking out on his own, Dennis distinguished himself as “Salesman of the Year” for Union Oil within a year of joining the sales division for the company.
A family man as well as a successful business executive, Dennis is married to one of his college classmates, the former Donna Word (78C). The couple has three adult daughters.
“Dennis has succeeded despite a changing economy,” McGuire said. “He embodies the spirit of an entrepreneur: a willingness to risk worldly possessions to pursue a dream. Dennis’ dream was to have his own company and make his mark on industry. Dennis has succeeded.”