In 1991, I was program director for a Baltimore radio station … and then I wasn’t. That business being what it is, the station changed formats and I went searching for the next gig. I decided I needed to keep busy while I was looking, and an acquaintance ran a well-known local remodeling company and needed another pair of hands. Thus began my home improvement career: as a roofers’ helper, working on apartment buildings, in August. If there’s a lower spot in the remodeling food chain, I never found it.
To make a much longer story short, that was the start of more than two decades with Welsh Construction Remodeling Co. I soon moved from field to office, gradually got involved with the advertising, and eventually managed the sales staff as well. I will never forget the opportunities I had to learn and grow there, and with an amazing team of sales and production personnel, the company grew as well, into a local powerhouse. Welsh was what every remodeler aspires to be: a brand people were willing to pay more for because they knew they would get corresponding quality and service.
On Thursday, April 4, Welsh Remodeling closed its doors for good after 52 years. The company’s customers under contract and vendors alike have been told not to expect any payment of outstanding balances or refunds of deposits for work that will never be done. Cue the attorneys.
Having been on my own as a consultant since mid-2012, I was stunned at how the news affected me. Of course I felt terrible for the staff and for the customers, but even more, I felt a profound sadness at the demise of the intangible: a brand name and a reputation we all spent so many years building.
If you’ve ever wondered how important your brand is, ask yourself this: If you went out of business tomorrow, would your local TV stations show up to cover the story? They did at Welsh. And while some other companies may benefit from the absence of a large competitor, that television coverage—of customers with deposits paid and work undone—is another black mark on an industry that doesn’t need any more of them. —Jim Rafferty, principal of JMRketing, provides outsourced marketing leadership to companies in the home improvement industry and beyond. jim@JMRketing.com