In its 101st year in business, Gruver-Cooley Corp. is no stranger to reinvention. Started as a development company in 1908 by current president Chip Gruver’s great-grandfather, the firm transitioned to new-home construction and then to its current core business of remodeling.
“Our balance is 70% remodeling, 30% new homes, and the pendulum swings depending on the economy,” says Chip Gruver (second from right, shown with Floyd Foley, Jill Gruver, and Bill Gruver, left to right). Over the years, repeat and referral work have boosted business. “We started out doing a lot of remodeling work for previous clients, sometimes in subdivisions with houses we had built that became dated,” he says. “We’ve gotten a lot of opportunities from past clients.” But as client loyalty solidified, other business aspects have been adapted to market conditions. Gruver’s wife, Jill, came on as CFO in 2007, bringing with her the expertise of having worked in a much larger organization. “She came in really understanding the importance of systems and helped us organize everything from HR policies to salary scales, and even overhauled our change-order system,” Gruver says. “Our theme since then has been consistency, and that’s exactly what systems provide for us.”
With advanced systems and a focus on large projects, Gruver-Cooley only needed to add a few staff as it grew dramatically from $4.8 million in 2007 to $8.2 million last year. As such, 2008 marked the company’s best year (remember, that’s out of 100), and it’s poised for a solid 2009.
“We’re lucky that our company has been around a long time and there’s name recognition,” Gruver says. “But even though we’ve been able to ride on that good reputation in the industry, we know that every company can always improve across the board. Every milestone we reach and award we earn is an opportunity to self-evaluate. We’re always conscious of our need to evolve.”
- Lauren Hunter