| Jesus Conde

Want to cover more ground when finding leads? Work with competitors. That’s what Chris Newcomer and Michael Barto do. Each is the owner of a remodeling company — Prism Home Improvement & Restoration and Chelsea Enterprises, respectively — in Rochester, N.Y. The pair began partnering on projects several years ago.

Although Barto’s strength is more construction-oriented than Newcomer’s, both do design work and both focus on historic restoration and renovation. They could be called competitors. But that hasn’t prevented them from collaborating.

With their combined client bases, each has doubled his referrals, Newcomer says. “It’s a way to tackle the market with more resources.”

Taking the Lead

For each job on which they collaborate, one of the pair “owns” the project while the other acts as a trade partner. Newcomer says that he likes the arrangement “because you can have the resources you need between the two companies for any project you need to do.”

In this kind of working relationship, however, it’s not just the owners who have to get along, the company cultures must mesh enough that the crews work well together.

Although Prism Home Improvement & Restoration and Chelsea Enterprises each have different company structures and processes, Newcomer says that, provided the jobs are organized well, the field crews are able to work out any differences.

Friends for many years, Newcomer and Barto don’t, however, want to create a single business entity. “It’s working well this way, and there’s no reason to go down that path,” Newcomer says.