Jeff Grantham, CGR, CAPS, GMB, CGP
Grantham Building and Remodeling, Petoskey, Mich,
Number of employees: 2
Q: How did you start in the remodeling business?
A: While taking a management class in college, my classmates and I counseled a remodeling company and made recommendations that we learned its owner did not heed. Later, I learned that the company went out of business and I met the man who bought the equipment at auction. I went into a business partnership with him; I ran the business side and he ran the practical end. We worked together on every job. He eventually moved away and I became the sole proprietor.
Q: How has your company evolved?
A: We started out as remodelers and eventually added new construction. Our projects were split about 50/50, though the new construction brought in more dollar volume. For the past three years, it has been exclusively remodeling because of the economy. We have returned to our roots and expect remodeling to be our niche. If a new home project comes along, that’s fine, but we’re not actively seeking them out.
Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: I started college in a pre-dental program. I then changed focus and got my degrees in economics and political science so I thought maybe I’d be in politics or public administration. Then I found this opportunity in the remodeling field and never turned back.
Q: How has the industry changed since you’ve been involved?
A: Projects are larger in scope. When I first started they were more maintenance driven and now they are reconstruction. To some degree it’s how I marketed myself; I specialized in what I call extreme home makeovers. Part of effectively marketing myself comes from being involved with the Home Builders Association and learning best practices and being around other successful remodelers and businessmen. There’s money to be made in this business if you seek out the right projects and run your business and jobsites right.
Q: What does being part of NAHB mean to you?
A: It’s about the professionalism and being around other successful people. The advocacy on our behalf regarding regulations and restrictions on our industry has been great. I’m vice chairman of our local Remodelers Council and vice chairman of our state Remodelers Council so I’m familiar with efforts at the local, state and national levels. That’s why I continue to encourage others to join the Home Builders Association and the Remodelers Council specifically.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: Listen more than you speak. There’s a reason why we have two ears; we should be listening twice as much as we speak. I have taken that to heart and I’m very interested in learning the needs and wants of my customer before I even start a design or an execution plan. I want to deliver what they want and I don’t know what that is unless I ask a lot of questions.
Q: What have you done to grow your business during the current economy?
A: Knowing the Internet is where everybody goes for their information, we’re making a big investment in our website. We had web presence before, but it didn’t communicate our professionalism or project diversity to potential customers.
Q: What is your favorite item in your office?
A: An award I received from my Home Builders Association that acknowledges my community service. Knowing I’m a strong, healthy guy, I have always made time to help out where I can, including with Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army and United Way. This year, our local United Way chapter’s Day of Caring allowed us to work with a local women’s resource center to improve their offices to be more functional. We always tell who we’re helping that we’re professional trades people so give us a task we can really help with. I’m very proud of that.
President, Little Traverse Association of Home Builders, Petoskey
Vice chairman, Little Traverse Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council
Vice chairman, Michigan Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council
Grantham has donated nearly 600 hours of community service to Habitat for Humanity and has donated time to United Way’s Day of Caring for the past three years and the Salvation Army Community Center for youth programs. He coordinated the 11th annual Garage Build, which auctions a garage to be built on the winner’s site. Proceeds benefit student chapters’ building trades programs in Charlevoix, Petoskey, Boyne City and Pellston, Mich.