—Gary Volpe, Volpe Enterprises Inc., Norristown, Pa., No. 171
Q:Some remodelers appear to have thrived and even grown in what has endlessly been called “difficult” economic times. What’s different about these remodelers who have succeeded, apparently against the odds?
The difference is some remodelers made the changes in more than one aspect of their business. These changes include marketing and advertising, product offerings and reducing overheads. Just because we are in difficult times doesn’t mean you stop advertising. Allocated dollars for advertising must be used—just used more wisely and differently from before.
—Jim Deen, Kitchen Kraft, Columbus, Ohio, No. 353
They haven’t given up. They haven’t maintained the status quo. They have adjusted and are forward thinkers. They are determining their own fate. They determine how much they have and not let the economy do that for them.
—Tim Brown, Rain Gutter Specialties, South Jordan, Utah, No. 382
I can’t count the number of articles I’ve read and seminars I’ve attended over the years that have always preached to not sell based upon price. In this environment there are a lot of good contractors competing for projects. The last couple of years have been very successful, but we have had to completely shake up the way we have always done business.
—Jeff Happe, Happe & Sons Construction Inc., Evansville, Ind., No. 270
Q:What is the one most significant change in the market and/or how you do business?
The average project size is decreasing significantly. We are running a greater number of smaller-sized projects concurrently. We have five employees and all of us run projects. In addition, we all perform the hands-on work of our own projects and assist others with their projects. Communication and coordination of schedules is our greatest challenge in this phase of our growth.
—Jeremy Steinruck, Axis Construction, Wichita Falls, Texas, No. 498
In this technology and information era, the remodeling business in general comes under frequent scrutiny. No longer can remodelers count on clients who have randomly flipped through the Yellow Pages and just chosen the first name on the list for their project. People want to know detailed information about the companies they are considering, as well as what their previous clients have to say about their work—and the Internet provides all of this information in abundance.
—Leah Rattray, Southwest Exteriors, San Antonio, No. 242
I’d say the most significant change in the market has been how our retail remodeling buyers shop. Where the rule of thumb used to be an educated consumer would get three bids on a project, we have seen that number increase drastically. It seems as if our remodeling prospects are shopping more and harder than ever before, thus creating a more competitive marketplace.
–Mark Gandy, Bath, Kitchen and Tile Center Lewes, Harbeson, Del., No. 195
Q:In response to changing conditions, have you done something in your business, good or bad, that you thought you would never do?
Last November I let go of two of my best friends. They were loyal, experienced and trustworthy. I had to decide that I was going to make the best decision for my company and our customers and reorganize without regard to my relationships. It was heartbreaking but necessary.
—Raymond J. Wiese, The Wiese Co. Inc., Sherborn, Mass., No. 423
I have let outside salespeople go and started running the majority of the “prospect leads” myself again. I’ve stopped dreaming of expanding to new markets this year and instead tightened my grip on details to ensure the proper margins are in every project we build this year.
—Joey Gates, The Shower Shop, Rowlett, Texas, No. 430
Q: Have changing market conditions presented you with opportunities? If so, what were they?
The only opportunities we have had are not related to the market at all. With the slowdown, we have been working on our systems and fine-tuning some of the data entry and analysis. We have seen job sizes shrink considerably from our “normal” averages.