To most, 2010, the depths of the recession, wasn’t  a great time to launch a home improvement company. The partners who own Carolina Exteriors disagree. “We saw everybody else retreating,” Clifton Muckenfuss says. “They saw adversity and turmoil. But what we thought was that people still needed windows, siding, and doors. Now might be the perfect time.”

The company’s focus on exteriors was deliberate. “It’s something people have to take care of,” Newton says. They hired two part-timers who became full-timers and the company grew. These days, the company is a James Hardie preferred contractor, and Carolina Exteriors is “one of the first contractors [James Hardie] calls” when installation specifics are changed.

The company also avails itself of one-day training sessions offered by manufacturers.


  • Guerilla marketing is key. Within months of launching, the Yellow Pages offered the company a free ad. Rather than spurn this old-hat medium, Carolina Exteriors was only too eager to go along. The ad “generated 14 or 15 projects and got us into an entire neighborhood,” Muckenfuss says. All of the other ads in the book were yellow. “Ours was green.” Carolina Exteriors also leaned on a supplier to print 2,500 door hangers. The company spends less than half a percent of revenue on advertising in a lead-driven business.
  • A low-pressure sell based on “relationships that we establish.” Carolina Exteriors uses a two-step selling process that combines a measure call where photos and other information are collected and a “detailed and itemized” proposal of anywhere from two to 20 pages is prepared for a second appointment. The proposal includes “six or seven pages of references.”
  • GuildQuality feedback shows this company brings to every job a high level of courtesy and attention to detail, whether it’s a $250 service repair or a $30,000 full re-side.