After 15 years at the company and a 10-year transition and buyout agreement, Keith Liston became the owner of Liston Construction, established by his father. Due to the economic downturn, the company is not doing large design/build projects, focusing instead on kitchens, baths, and basement remodels in the $50,000 to $80,000 range. For these projects, it was difficult for Liston to differentiate his estimate from other bids, so he changed his sales policy: He asks potential clients for a retainer so he can develop a more detailed, realistic budget. With the homeowner and remodeler both making an investment and building rapport, Liston says, the system has proved successful.

For larger projects, he brings in an architect. His father still sells part-time, and Liston’s wife, who has a design background, recently joined the company, helping customers select products and handling all documentation. “She has been great asset. Not all companies have someone who can do the hand-holding,” Liston says. He is also training his two field carpenters to take over some project management duties. With this team in place, his goal is a $1.5 million volume in the next few years.

Staying Current  Keith Liston concentrates on the jobs at hand to make sure he is giving existing clients his full attention.