Even with a finance degree and MBA, Mark Buelow (front, center) found corporate success wasn’t for him; it was too impersonal. “But I did learn a lot about starting a business,” he says.

Moving into tangible, inspiring work, Buelow launched Distinctive Remodeling in 2001 during an economic slump. “The greatest number of new businesses start during recessionary times,” he says. “I was kind of naive to that. I was ready to do something different and, being small, didn’t really feel the impact.”

After nearly a decade of growth, Buelow attributes Distinctive Remodeling’s success to smart business decisions including right-sizing his staff and proper marketing. Amid the current downturn, across-the-board pay reductions have actually boosted employee investment in the business, he says.

Money saved on overhead was re-allocated to marketing. “We’ve curbed all spending unless it’s a marketing initiative,” Buelow says. “Consumers are more cautious with money being spent and who they work with, which has forced us to rethink how we spend money to create client opportunities. For us, social media is gaining momentum.”


  • Buelow is 2009 and 2010 president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s Atlanta chapter. 
  • Distinctive Remodeling Solutions offers clients the Distinctive Guarantee, including on-time and on-budget assurances. If the company is late, the client receives money off the final invoice. Buelow calls the on-time guarantee a “differentiator in the marketplace,” and says that the Distinctive Guarantee has earned the company a lot of positive feedback in the two years since it was implemented. 
  • The company prides itself on accurate estimating by nailing down prices with trades and vendors and running detailed job-costing reports for weekly meetings. Project managers are responsible for reviewing invoices. 
  • The company is finalizing a customer relationship management (CRM) technology plan that will help standardize and streamline company processes to create a consistent customer experience. The program will also track data and trends to help guide the company’s efforts.

- Lauren Hunter