Keep ’em Happy

Nick Sabold, owner of Sabold Construction in Dallastown, Pa., believes keeping people happy is one key to his success as a remodeler.

There are two groups of people Sabold singles out for special attention. The first, of course, is his customers. His philosophy is to keep them — many of whom are repeats or referrals — happy. He feels this basic approach has gone a long way toward growing his company. His relationship with customers is described as so comfortable that he’s often treated almost as a member of the family.

Sabold also makes a special effort to communicate effectively with his employees. His philosophy is that if a business owner keeps his employees happy, they will work better for him. Giving them credit for their work is one way he accomplishes this goal, so when Sabold Construction won a Grand Award in the 2008 Remodeling Awards of Excellence sponsored by the York Builders Association, instead of taking the spotlight himself, he had the employee who was in charge of the project accept the award.

He admits that early on he didn’t always communicate as well as he might have liked, but he’s made changes. “I’ve found if you keep communication lines open, even though you get busy with work and keeping other things going, then the employee knows where he’s going, not only the next day or the next week but a month from now,” he says.

"Little problems that aren’t addressed are worse than big problems."

Being open to questions is important, too. “I’ve told my guys if there is something that bothers them about the way we’re doing business, something they would like to see changed or just an idea, they should bring it up,” he says

“Little problems [that aren’t addressed] are worse than bigger problems,” Sabold continues, “because they compound and make big problems.”

One of Sabold’s business strategies has been to diversify and explore niche markets. One of those niche ventures has been to work closely with an interior designer that typically has clients in nearby upper-income and gated communities. Sabold specializes in custom trim work on the designer’s jobs, including crown and box mouldings as well as custom gas log fireplaces.

Another strategy has been to hire a certified heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician (HVAC) and venture into that field, both as part of overall remodeling jobs and as a stand-alone service.

Dallastown, located in southern Pennsylvania about 30 miles south of Harrisburg and 100 miles west of Philadelphia, has a population of approximately 4,000, the kind of place where personal involvement in the community is more common than not.

True to that tradition, Sabold has served for 14 years as a volunteer firefighter for the nearby Yoe Fire Company.

For two of those years he was chief engineer and had the responsibility of maintaining all of the fire company’s equipment. In addition, for the past three years, he has chaired the department’s annual Crab Feed, the fire company’s main fund-raiser.

Another reflection of Sabold’s involvement is his devotion to professional groups. He joined the York Builders Association and the Remodelers Council in 2006. He served as vice-chair (2007) and chairperson (2008). This year, he will serve the Remodelers Council as the immediate past chair. Sabold represented the council on the York Builders Association’s board in 2008. This year, he will serve on the York Builders Association’s board as a state director.

He also serves on the association’s Training and Education Committee and Programs Committee as the Remodelers Council representative.

Since joining in 2006, Sabold has sponsored the Remodeling Awards of Excellence as a Silver Sponsor each year. Last year he entered a project for the first time and won a Grand Award.

In addition to keeping his customers and employees happy, Sabold attributes a share of his company’s success to the education he has gained through the builders association and the remodelers council. Contacted shortly after his return from the recent International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas, Sabold stressed the importance of industry involvement, saying it’s important to learn from everything one does.

Fast Facts About Nick Sabold:

  • Company name: Sabold Construction
  • Location: Dallastown, Pa.
  • Number of employees: 3 full-time; 2 part-time
  • Community involvement: Volunteer firefighter, Yoe Fire Company, 14 years; chair, Crab Feed committee
  • Industry involvement: Immediate past chair, York Builders Association, Remodelers Council; chair, 2008; vice-chair, 2007; member, training and education committee; member, programs committee