By REMODELING Magazine Staff. Michael Griggs, CR

Disaster Restoration

Westminster, Colo.

Big50 1995

Because we're a specialty contractor, there are many disciplines with which our employees must be familiar. As a result, we do quite a bit of training -- we spent approximately $21,000 last year on it, in fact, about half a percentage point of our total volume. We feel it's imperative if we're going to stay abreast of current trends.

We send our people to seminars, but we also do a lot of in-house training, including bringing in a third party. Computers are a big part of it too; we train on Internet use as well as various software products.

Shawn Nelson

New Spaces

Burnsville, Minn.

Big50 1998

We spend a great deal on training, but most of it doesn't come from a training budget per se. We've found that the best results come from combining theoretical training with practice and real, hands-on experience.

For our carpenters, for instance, we train them in basic skills all the way through lead certification, combining classes and on-the-job work. For our designers, we've got a one-year program that teaches the skills required for the industry and our particular systems.

About 80% of the $50,000 we spend on training is indirect, including salaries and such while our employees learn as they go. It's great: We're training but getting work done for our clients at the same time.

Steve Taylor

Taylor Made Construction

Edgewood, Md.

Big50 2003

We are very dialed in to training here. It's the key to a consistent client experience.

One-on-one mentoring is our favored method. Working alongside someone who actually answers the phone, sets the lead, makes the sale, or builds the project keeps the lines of communication short, which is the key to delivering a consistent message.

Take our sales staff, for example. They'll go through the usual training about our philosophies and systems, but then they'll ride along with a trainer to see it all in action. Then we'll trust them with a lead.

All our employees are trained in the art of communication; it's the most important aspect of our relationships with our clients.

I can't say exactly how much money we spend on training, but it's around the $20,000 range. That includes sending our employees to various conferences and shows, which we also consider to be a large part of our training efforts.

Steve Lusk

Lusk Remodeling

San Diego

Big50 1996

I don't have a line item in my budget for training because it's something that's associated with several things our company does.

To me, training is synonymous with education. Therefore, I consider the costs related to books, videos, consulting services, conventions, trade shows, and seminars to be training expenses. All of those things help us build better or help us make more money by building better. I figure the cost to be about 1% of our annual budget.

Dennis Gehman, CR, CLC

Gehman Custom Builder

Harleysville, Pa.

Big50 1995

We don't track actual dollars spent on training; it's just part of what we do.

We begin with a new-employee orientation, where we go over our policy manual. The document spells out our commitment to ongoing education.

From there, we do a variety of different things. We have a library of books, tapes, videos, etc. for our staff to use. We give them subscriptions to trade magazines. We also reimburse them for classes they pass, even ones that aren't specifically related to our industry, like Spanish or a marriage enrichment course. Most of our leads have certifications, too.

One other thing we do is invite vendors and manufacturers to come by our staff meetings, to train us in installation or answer questions.

To encourage all of this, we publicly recognize any employee who has passed a course or been redesignated for another year.