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Remodeler Spotlight: Donna Shirey

Remodeler Donna Shirey, CGR, CGP, CAPS, owner, Shirey Handyman Service in Issaquah, Wash. shares her thoughts about remodeling and being a remodeler in honor of National Remodeling Month.

ForResidentialPros: What drives you to remain in the remodeling business?
Donna Shirey: Everyone in our company likes to help our clients. We can do that by making their physical space better. The number of wonderful clients far outweighs the number of less desirable clients.

FRP: What’s your toughest challenge and how do you overcome it?
DS: Picking the toughest is hard. There are several challenges. First is good employees who want to work for a company with great benefits. In order to do that, they need to have a mentality that allows them to think of the company and how they can affect the financial stability of the company. This was very evident during the Great Recession when we had to eliminate some benefits. We have taught our employees how to "up sell" and they know to increase our gross revenue.

Second are clients. They have access to materials online and think if they supply parts, they will save money. It is a constant challenge to teach the the difference between shopping online vs. paying us to supply materials. The difference becomes clear, for example, if the toilet they supply has problems which require repair. They own the toilet, and we will charge to fix it. 

FRP: Why is the work that you and other remodelers do so important to the country?
DS: There is a large aging inventory of homes in the U.S. Repair and maintenance are very important to maintaining the value of that structure. There is enough devaluing of homes without the physical decline. Also, moving is expensive and remodelers can make an existing home better with the ability to allow people to stay in their homes longer. We have clients who now have their aging parents living with them so we have been called in to make their home safe for their parents. This has come full circle. They had to modify their home for children, and now they are doing it again for their parents. 

FRP: Will you be doing anything special for Remodeling Month?
DS: We support our local [builders association] and the Rampathon event. This year we built 17 ramps for people who could not otherwise afford a ramp. The program started in the early 1990s and is still going strong because of great volunteers and a committed leadership.

FRP: Anything you want to add?
DS: In looking back on my 40 years in construction, I realize it is a great career for a woman. Our local association and remodelers council really took off when more women became involved. In remodeling, it is generally the woman in the family who wants changes to the home. We bond in a common goal to make life better. That's what it's all about for me!

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