When he was named Big 50 in 1991, 90% of Kelly Wright's work was remodeling. Now Wright Brothers Builders, Westport, Conn., is equally split between remodeling work and building custom homes. Why the change? To serve his sophisticated and affluent clients, Wright says, he has to offer both remodeling and new home construction. "We market professionalism, quality, and meticulous attention to detail," he says.
Wright reaches these clients with monthly full-page advertisements in the local Greenwich and Westport magazines. He titles the ad "Custom Homes and Renovations" and includes photos of a different project each month. In addition, he gets new clients through referrals and local architects.
When a potential client calls, Wright assembles a custom folder with project sheets of similar past jobs. He works with architects on both renovations and custom homes. Most of the time, he's brought in at the same time as the architect. Other times, Wright will bid on jobs. "The jobs are very complicated and only a select group in our area is qualified to build them," Wright says.
The high-end jobs have increased the company's average job size from $100,000 in 1991 to $2.5 million now. The company has grown along with their projects -- in 1990, the volume was $2 million; it's now $20 million. Though there is a slightly higher profit margin on remodeling projects vs. custom homes, Wright prefers the mix. And, he says, the better he knows his costs, the less difference there is in the margins. "You need to be efficient and have good relations with vendors who will honor their prices," he says.
Wright recently started Wright Homeworks to handle $2,000 to $200,000 jobs such as kitchens, bathrooms, and decks. "I don't want to leave the smaller job clients behind," Wright says.