Design Firm Builds Business With a Personal Touch

Design Firm Builds Business With a Personal Touch

By John Filippelli

"The kitchenette comes equipped with a sink that provides hot and cold water, a two-burner electric cooktop stove, a convection oven and a solid surface cutting board that doubles as a warming plate," Wayne Minde explains. "We wanted to minimize the stress related to large kitchen remodeling projects."

In fact, it is this kind of personalized service and design ingenuity that Wayne and Linda credit with building their award-winning design firm in this bustling city outside of Phoenix.
Dealing primarily in custom kitchen and bath remodeling, whole-house remodeling and additions, the pair (along with the firm's five employees) cater to a sophisticated clientele looking to transform existing spaces into "dream homes," according to Linda Minde.

"We specialize in updating older homes and focusing on spatial design," notes Wayne Minde.

He adds that a signature element of the firm's designs include vaulted ceilings to create a sense of open space. In fact, utilizing space to its maximum potential is a main component of all of the company's designs, he suggests.

So, how does the firm do it?

In addition to thinking about the "extras" like minimizing the potential discomforts of not having a full, functional kitchen during the process  he believes, "The key is listening to customers and finding out how they live in their home. Once we know what the client hopes to achieve and how they plan to live in the space, [only then] can we create the design they want."

But, Linda Minde notes that listening is only the first step in Tri-Lite Builders' design process. "[What makes our designs unique is that] we have the ability to custom design cabinets according to the clients' imagination. There's a cabinet shop on the premises for custom-built cabinets and vanities," she adds.

Wayne Minde, who is a certified remodeler, adds: "Our cabinetmaker's experience using Cabinet-Vision's 'KitchenBuilder' software also enables us to create innovative and functional designs that best utilize the cabinets. This gives us the ability to create room additions that look like they have been a part of the home and specialize in updating older homes while focusing on spatial design."

Citing a past project that reflects this type of customization, he describes a kitchen/dining room remodel that needed to feature the southwestern flavor of the area. "As part of that remodel, we used peel poles and copper with corbels and custom built Mexico-style furniture," he explains. He proudly adds that the firm won the CoTY award in 2003 for that project.

Linda Minde also cites a poorly designed master bathroom that needed to better utilize wasted space while integrating a walk-in shower and dual vanities. "We reconfigured the space and moved the plumbing to make the room more functional. We chose materials such as glass block, white countertops and an abundance of mirrors to give the look of a larger space."

While the firm does not have a showroom, Wayne Minde believes that his support staff offers the next best thing for clients. "We have a staff person dedicated to helping our clients with their product selections. They'll take clients to showrooms [to see how a product works] or have catalogs readily available for viewing."

To accomplish this, Linda Minde notes that each employee stays abreast of the latest in design build trends. "We encourage our employees to pursue ongoing training, such as attending seminars. [It's important to us] that we educate ourselves on the latest products and design innovations."

For the firm, this information has translated into specifying a variety of high-end product lines, including solid surface products from Royalstone and Avonite; Formica Corp. and Wilsonart laminates; as well as granite, tile and concrete.

But, the firm's attention to detail does not end once a project is completed. In many ways, it is just beginning, Wayne Minde believes.

"After a project is completed, we host a 'client appreciation night.' There, our clients receive a notebook documenting their finished project. This includes all contracts, change orders, permits, warranty information, a copy of the design plan, and a CD containing before- and after-pictures," he offers.

Taking the custom idea even further, the company sends a personalized "client appreciation gift basket" to clients, complete with latte mugs, homemade zucchini bread, coffee and biscotti. Client follow-up meetings are also scheduled 11 months after completion of a project, he adds.

Linda Minde explains, "We visit to check the project for any warranty issues and to make sure the client is completely satisfied with our work."

While these tactics help build referral business for the firm, Wayne Minde notes that the company uses more traditional forms of marketing as well, such as direct mailings of before- and after-photography and participation in radio and television appearances, as well as Adopt-a-Street campaigns.

He concludes, "Because we listen, we can provide clients with a custom design that's best suited to how they live in their home. Due to the open lines of communication, we're able to deliver designs that are aesthetically pleasing and functional."

Tri-Lite Builders

Location: 1650 E. Twin Acres Dr., Chandler, AZ 85249
Principals: Wayne Minde, CR and Linda Minde
Hours of Operation:
8 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Fri.
Number of Employees: 5
Specialties: Kitchen and bath remodeling, second-story additions, room additions, detached guest quarters, whole house remodeling
Design Software:
Kitchen Builder by CabinetVision
Business Philosophy:
"We make every effort to achieve the best relationship possible with our clients, suppliers and our employees. We know the relationships we build are as important as the homes we remodel."