Question 12: If you could rebuild your remodeling company from the ground up, what would it look like? Tim Burch,  Burch Builders Group  
We are happy with the current infrastructure of our company. We are realizing that we cannot pigeonhole ourselves into one type of builder/remodeler. In today’s times, our company needs to adapt to global changes that are outside of our control. That may mean contracting for smaller projects, repair or replacement work, etc.

Craig Durosko,  Sun Design Remodeling Specialists
I feel fortunate to say that when I started describing an ideal remodeling company, most of the attributes are already present at Sun Design: design/build process, great clients, great staff and culture, and our core values of Truth, Fun, and Charity.

Peter Feinmann,  Feinmann Inc.
I think we have a fantastic group of people working at Feinmann and I think we can be really sweet at $4 million to $5 million in revenue. The major change would be to engage senior management in future growth plans. I also think that diversifying the company’s work is important to hedge against future contractions.

Dennis D. Gehman, Gehman Custom Remodeling

Dennis D. Gehman,  Gehman Custom Remodeling

  • Full-service handyman, remodeling, and design/build.
  • Written business plan.
  • Written marketing plan.
  • Focused on the value of each customer for life.
  • Open-book management.
  • The entire company will be focused on the numbers
    • Leads
    • Sales
    • Gross profit
    • Cost of goods
  • Pay-for-performance compensation.
  • Annual 360-degree review for everyone.
  • Target market area would be a 10-mile radius from our office.
  • Nice-looking office on a well-traveled street with a small selections center we would use showrooms of suppliers and manufacturers.
  • Become known for our community service and education.

Alex Iosa,  Iosa Construction Corp.
It would look as it does now. Every project and every business experience is a building block that cannot be skipped. We have all lost money on projects, but sometimes lost money has far less value than the lesson that is learned and applied to all new projects.

Alex Iosa, Iosa Construction

We are not happy with this economic downturn, however, it has opened our eyes to the importance of marketing and our continued customer service. We used to be an order taker, knowing that the phone was going to ring and that someone needed our services. For us, this current economic marketplace has been healthy; it is making our company stronger and is making us better businessmen. It is stretching our comfort zones and as a result it is redefining our company philosophy. I have a quote that sums up this “sacrifice” question: “It’s only Friday if you get the weekend off. Otherwise it is always Monday.”

Paul Irwin,  Pattern Builders
As a new company, we’re doing that now. Pattern Builders specializes in problem-solving. We focus on the issues our clients want resolved and develop solutions based on proven, successful patterns of management, design, and construction. We believe that the separation of the architect and the builder is fundamentally destructive ? not only for residential projects, but also for our communities and environment. The architect must be the builder, and the builder must be the architect. And in remodeling work, I believe that this is especially important.

Paul Irwin, Pattern Builders

We add the most value to residential projects when the homeowners recognize the importance of well-designed, well-built spaces and the benefits of an efficient team that is fluent in design and construction. I share detailed information with my clients about costs and I openly share markup and profit targets with them. Our clients are typically married professionals, and our open-book policy reassures them that we’re looking out for their best interests, too. I think an ESOP is in our future and is the best answer to questions of ownership succession, talent retention, and growth.

Chris Landis,  Landis Construction Corp. 
It would look very much like the one we have.

John Murphy,  Murphy Bros. Designers & Remodelers 
It would be $1.5 million per year doing jobs over $100,000 with four lead carpenters, one general office worker/bookkeeper, and a part-time designer, at a 36% gross margin. But I am comfortable with our current staff and what we are doing right now.

Jane Regan,  HB Building and Design
So far, we are doing very well. We started out 10 years ago from one contractor to a team of six construction workers and four office staff that includes two designers, one part-time bookkeeper, and one part-time marketing guru.

Jane Regan, HB Building and Design

Now is the time to get that Internet marketing going. We’ve totally revamped our website to make sure people can opt-in and we can capture their e-mail address. I keep up a blog, we have a newsletter that goes out monthly called the “Home Report,” I use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to keep growing the number of people who know about our company. I also now use a professional photographer to shoot finished jobs, instead of taking my own snapshots, and that has improved the quality of our advertising and Internet presence. We would probably not have taken on building houses for others — only spec houses for our own company, as over the past 10 years people have consistently run out of money doing these projects, even though we met our budget.

We would have promoted our specialties more in our advertising: kitchens, baths, decks, small additions, and remodels for aging-in-place. These are now the only things we advertise, and while we do take on other types of work, these are the jobs that we want to secure.

Alex Shekhtman,  Elite Remodeling
I would do the same type of work we have been doing, along with adding energy audits and other environmentally conscious services/products. No staff, or very little staff (1 to 2), revenue approx. $1.5 million with gross profit target of 45%.