Basic Values Define Jersey Remodeler

Old-fashioned hard work and a personal touch are two qualities Philip A. Calinda Jr., embodies in both his work as a remodeler and as an active member of the Community Builders Association New Jersey, the local National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) affiliate.

Calinda’s firm, Millenium Custom Homes, LCC, located in Livingston, N.J., is a full-service remodeling company that has been doing a lot of aging-in-place remodeling recently. Calinda completed the certification process for NAHB’s CAPS (Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist) and has become passionate about the topic.

Like many a remodeler before him, Calinda was exposed to the construction business from an early age, picking up nails in exchange for a couple of dollars while his father, an excavator, operated heavy equipment at jobsites.
In high school, rather than sell his first car, he worked afternoons and weekends for a contractor as part of a school-sponsored work program.

The company’s owners were impressed by his work ethic and gave him more training and responsibility. Today, he’s a partner in the firm and runs its custom home and remodeling division.

Along the way, Calinda found time to become involved with NAHB’s Community Builders Association of New Jersey. “When I got involved in education, we were holding about one class a year. This year, we’re doing 30-plus classes,” he says. He’d like to see his local association become a destination for remodeling-related education in the Northeast.

Attracting new members is a challenge for any professional organization. Educational offerings are one attraction, and the builders association has made attending them more attractive by holding them in the afternoon, followed by a dinner and time for socializing.

“The whole point is making them feel welcome,” Calinda says, who wants everyone to get involved and urges new members to serve on a committee or two.

Calinda is proud of several events that he has organized this year — events that weren’t “on the books” and about which there was some initial skepticism. One of the events attracted 130 people, including more than 50 nonmembers, a number that Calista says is unheard of. “It’s more than just getting members; it’s getting them to socialize, getting them to want to be a part of the association,” he says.

Something special happens at these gatherings, Calinda believes. “There’s a bond between these guys. In a stressful time, we’re not hammering them for money; they’re coming out and having a good time for five bucks.”

How does he do it? The personal touch works best, Calinda believes. Instead of using e-mail or fax, he personally called everyone on his list to ask that they attend a recent event. Not only that, he makes a point of personally introducing to himself to as many people as possible at the events. He’s quick to point out that he hasn’t made the events successful alone and insists that teamwork, another old-fashioned virtue, has had a lot to do with the organization’s accomplishment.

If the personal touch characterizes his approach to association matters, then it goes double for the business side of Calinda’s professional life. References and word-of-mouth advertising are key business practices that govern his business. Being there when you say you’re going to be there is important, he says. “I come from the old school: If you’re not five minutes early, you’re late. Being prompt and returning phone calls, that’s the greatest edge I have besides knowledge and expertise and making sure the job is the best it can be. People want to know you’re going to be there for them.

“A remodeler isn’t just someone who just does remodeling projects. A remodeler is someone who reaches out to his community and helps others before himself. My local voted me remodeler of the year. I’m sure it wasn’t because of the many projects I’ve completed for clients but because of my hours of hard work helping others,” Calinda says.

Fast Facts About Philip A. Calinda Jr., CGR, CAPS, CGP, CGB, GMB, GMR

Company: Millenium Custom Homes, LLC
Location: Livingston, N.J.
Industry Involvement: NAHBR, board of governors, 2008, 2009; business associate committee member; 2008 membership/education committee