By REMODELING Magazine Staff Michael McCutcheon, McCutcheon Construction, Berkeley, Calif., Big 50 1993

Big is better

Growing your company strengthens it and gives you the opportunity for greater compensation. More importantly, it expands both your capacity to serve your customers and the opportunities you can offer your employees.

About five years ago, I realized I had a maturing company with a strong customer base and a solid reputation, but limited resources. If a client were to come to us with a job beyond our capacity, we'd have to send them to someone else whose work wouldn't necessarily live up to our standards. We don't want to leave these clients in the lurch, so as their needs have grown, we've grown to service them.

Growth opportunities

Individuals within the company were also maturing, and I found many loyal employees were looking for different opportunities that I could only provide by growing the business. I had an employee in his 50s tell me he was getting worn out in the field but was interested in doing design. I had another office employee who wasn't content shuffling paper and wanted to get involved in selling, estimating, and possibly managing work. I couldn't have given them the chance to pursue these interests if my company wasn't growing to accommodate them. Our business is now providing opportunities for 26 employees, and it's a very satisfying feeling.

I don't believe in growth for growth's sake. I wouldn't take a job that was inappropriate for the company just to make a sales quota. But I do believe in setting goals that give everyone associated with the company a chance to grow.

Robert Bell, CGR, Bell's Remodeling, Duluth, Minn., Big 50 1993

Small is smart I've pretty much stayed the same size for nine years now, and I've discovered that considering my goals and my market, that's exactly what I should be doing.

I remember years ago coming home from Remodelers' Shows and beating myself up because I would hear "you have to have 10% growth," and I wasn't growing. So I thought about specializing in high-end kitchens or additions to boost my volume. But when I examined the market, I realized that to do this I would have to travel to outlying areas to reach much wealthier clients, and I didn't want the complications. I also didn't want to set sales goals that would force me to take jobs from clients I didn't want to work for.

Focus on what works

I chose to stick with the upper-middle-and-higher markets within Duluth that I had served for years and focus on providing the quality service that keeps those customers coming back. Most of my customers live within a few miles of my house, so it's a convenient market and it keeps my overhead down. It also brings in enough profit to support the lifestyle I want, so I'm not going to abandon it just for the sake of growth.

I continue to stress professionalism and service. I continue to provide my two employees with educational opportunities. I continue to improve my efficiency and productivity. And I continue to run the sort of business I want to run.