Frey Construction & Home Improvement, in Prairie du Sac, Wis., thrives by the old adage “the customer is always right,” according to founder and president Scott Frey. A member of the Remodeling Big50 Class of 2012, Frey took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to REMODELING about the unpredictability of the remodeling industry, the importance of giving customers choices, and planning for the future.

REMODELING: What has been your biggest challenge over the past year?

Scott Frey: Dealing with “feast or famine” in this industry with its seasonality, storms, and economic down times. It is hard to control all of those emotions people have from being too busy to not having enough to do. On the one hand, you need to have a salesforce large enough to be ready for the uptick yet small enough to still feed their family and keep overhead low. It’s critical to keep them pumped up at all costs.

RM: What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment since entering the remodeling field?

SF: Surviving the downturn without layoffs. We did this with our reputation and salesforce because we always provide the best installations in the industry, [so] people want us. If we do not think it is good enough, we create it. People want choices. If you can't give them a good, better, and best, you will lose many chances.

RM: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

SF: My father told me that if you're going to do business in your hometown, you better never let the customer down. Seventeen years later, it is still a core focus of my business.

RM: What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given?

SF: People trying to sell marketing. It’s always too good to be true. If it wasn’t, they would let you pay per lead.

RM: If you could change one decision you’ve made in the last 10 years, what would it be?

SF: I would have been better prepared for a downturn. I started this at age 22 in 1995. I lived through such great times that I didn't think it could change. So I always kept growing and taking chances. Sometimes you need to pull back to prepare for the future.

See Scott Frey’s Remodeling Big50 profile from the May 2012 issue.