Andrew Schroeder, CR, General Manager of Schroeder Design/Build Inc., Fairfax, Va.

Year Business Was Founded: 1986

Number of Team Members: 9, plus an extended family of trades and suppliers

Industry involvement: Remodelers Advantage Inc., NARI (board of directors, Education Committee Liaison through 2011 and Consumer Awareness Committee Liaison as of 2012), EPA Certified Renovator


Why do you consider yourself a nontraditional remodeler?

My exposure and entry into the business of remodeling is similar to some but far different than most. What I have learned over the years is that in this industry, the more well-established traditional/typical remodeler diligently worked in the field to master his or her trade. The natural next step is the decision to branch out on his own. I relate this to a quarterback who gets a couple years under his belt on a competitive level before he is placed as a starter in a new franchise. This is how the Schroeder team was created and the reason why my parents ventured into the small-business realm. However, my entrance into the business came through playing a majority of the positions on the team while always studying and learning from our Pro Bowl quarterback, my father. I have been blessed to be teammates with my parents who have groomed me from water boy to second-string to starter.


What would be your ideal project?

Any project the clients are thrilled with and want to share with the world. An ideal project for us is not a specific scope of work; rather, it would have success in these four categories:

1) Client satisfaction—Did we achieve the expectations we set for the client? Did we proactively attempt to uncover potential issues early?

2) On time—How close did we finish the project compared to the original timeline? Was the client aware the effects their mid-project changes had to the completion date?

3) Respect—Was there an equal respect level with all involved (client, designer, carpenter, material deliverer, laborer, etc.)?

4) On budget—This is a byproduct of the successes of the previous three categories.


What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?

The question the client is asking is not his or her real question. Further exploration will uncover their true concerns.


When and why did you join Remodelers Advantage?

Our company’s first stint with RA was in 1994-97. My parents left roundtables because they (obviously) knew everything. We rejoined in 2005 knowing RA is the pinnacle of training for remodeling business owners and managers. This has been proven and will continue to be the best source of continuing education as a second-generation owner.


What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned from your peers at Remodelers Advantage?

In early childhood we are instilled with a sense of competition. This requires us to be the best or at least better than the next. I was humbled early in my career when I realized I am not the best at everything. In fact, there is someone superior to me in everything I do. I have shifted into someone who is patient to find these folks, determined to set them up for success and genuinely wants them to be happy.


If you could change one thing about the remodeling industry, what would it be?

Consumer expectations. There are unethical companies/individuals that pray on homeowners’ innate desires to get a deal. This could be as simple as setting completion-date targets that can’t be met or as extreme as selling a dream and walking away with the homeowners’ deposit money. Regardless, it makes me sick.


The other thing that creates unrealistic consumer expectations is HGTV. We actually love that our clients watch HGTV because it stirs their creative juices and motivates change. However, the budgets presented on HGTV are “Hollywoodized” and simply unachievable.


What does your gut tell you about our current economic situation?

There will always be ups and downs. Everything needs to be viewed as an opportunity. This past recession has given business owners across the board the opportunity to retool and be more streamlined. We plan on keeping a healthy reserve in case the horrific strikes again. We also have diversified into the real-estate business to avoid the risk of a single industry. But it now is the ominous 2012, so I think I should consult my Magic 8 Ball: Sources are hazy; try again later.


As you were growing up, what did you want to be?

It is not so much what I wanted to be but what I didn’t want to be. I witnessed the pain and agony my parents experienced as remodelers and decided I did not want that stress. Turns out, I don’t listen to my own advice and I’m a glutton for punishment.


What is your most treasured possession?

Ironically, my wife told me to say “the pants in the relationship.”


What motivates you every day?

Mouths to feed. The leader of a company is responsible for the well-being of not only his or her own family, but the family of all the stakeholders. They protect me and it is my primary duty to take care for them.


If a movie was made about your life, who would be cast as you?

Tom Cruise somewhere in between “Risky Business” and “Jerry McGuire” with a little “Mission Impossible” mixed in.