The Manitowoc, Wis., market was hungry for a professional, full-service remodeling firm in 1999 when Brian Johnson, then just 24 years old, became the "director of corporate development" for his high-school friend's light construction firm (then called S & H Construction). "We instilled it in our mission statement that we're a company that's going to provide the professional service homeowners want," Johnson says. "When you work in a small community like ours, that's tough to come by."
The first thing he did was get owner Chris Schmidt, who had been making sales calls in his muddy work clothes, out of the field and into a pair of khakis and a tucked-in shirt. Then he developed a comprehensive benefits package to help recruit experienced talent. That step drastically changed the overhead structure of the company and played a major role in the operation's five-fold growth over the past three years.
Johnson, now the company's president, became an owner in October 2000 with the launch of a sister lawn care/landscaping business that keeps busy in the winter doing snow removal. That's when he gave the company's corporate image a makeover with a new name and logo. Now Sunrise Construction and Sunset Lawnscaping have established a name presence in the community. "Both names are always present in the logo," Johnson says, "so when you're marketing one company, you're automatically marketing the other."
Plans for growth now include branch offices in communities near Manitowoc with similar demographics -- places where the company can go and immediately be the leader in customer service.