Nick Richmond, president and owner of Matrix Basement Systems, in Arlington Heights, Ill., has won the 2013 Fred Case Entrepreneur of the Year Award in honor of achievements in both manufacturing and marketing that propelled his remodeling company in 2012.

Richmond is the seventh person to receive the annual award, which was established by Fred Case, the founder, co-chairman, and CEO of Case Design Remodeling. Richmond was selected from four finalists by a panel that judged the nominees on business acumen, company financial strength, community and industry involvement, and entrepreneurial spirit. The award  — which includes a check for $10,000 and a profile in October's REMODELING  — was presented just outside Washington on Friday evening, May 11, at the conclusion of the Remodeling Leadership Conference.

Richmond's company is 3 1/2 years old and took in $5.6 million in 2012. His Matrix Basement Systems was honored in part for deciding to manufacture in-house the structural insulated panel (SIP) product that's a key part of his company's basement work. Taking over manufacturing is a daunting task given the challenges in sourcing raw materials, making the product, and assuring its quality. But by doing so successfully, Richmond boosted profits, cut lead times, and built a dealer/distributor network, the judges said.

The judges also took note of the Open House program Richmond created in which customers were asked to open their house on a weekend day to showcase their basement project. "The company sends out 3,000 direct-mail pieces for each event, places signs in the yard and neighborhood, posts the events on their website and canvasses the neighborhood with door hangers," an announcement from the judges said. "In 2012, [Matrix Basement Systems] conducted over 80 open houses which produced over $2.5 million sales   — half their revenue for the year. ... This has led to an extremely high lead conversion rate with a high level of comfort in their company well before the first meeting."

The other three nominees for the award were Larry Green, CEO of Systems Paving, Santa Ana, Calif.; Lawrence Janesky, president, Basement Systems, Seymour, Conn.; and Bill McHugh, owner, Tier 1 Group, Leander, Texas. Each finalist received $2,500, so with his award, Richmond received a total of $12,500.

Read REMODELING's profiles of past Fred Case Award winners: