NAHB Remodeler of the Month

Jerry DeHart

Co-Owner of Coastal General Construction Inc., Ogunquit, Maine

Year Founded: 2006

Number of Employees: 8

Type of company: General Contractor

 

Who started your company? My business partner, Norm Clough, and I.

When and how did you choose this career? I believe the career chose me, at least at first.  At age 19, my car broke down at 3 o’clock in the morning leaving me stranded by the side of the road 3300 miles from home.  All I had to my name were my nail bags and a desire to learn. There were so many building related career opportunities in the Silicon Valley in the early 1980’s that it was an exciting time for a young builder/remodeler.  The thrill is still there for me today; I just love the construction industry.

What does being part of NAHB mean to you? Since I have joined NAHB, I feel like I have a team with the tools and answers that I need to complete any project. They can help with legal and land use questions, continuing education, builders and remodelers clubs, and just great information regarding our bottom line and trends that will help our business. NAHB and its members have helped us grow during a terrible economic down turn and have helped us to be correctly positioned for our local recovery.

How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved? Communication technology and product information are the two items I notice the most change in. Clients expect immediate answers to their queries. They expect pictures in real time and real time scheduling. Your employees expect immediate answers to questions in the field. The amount of time I spend researching products and educating myself on the newest advances in the construction field is overwhelming at times. Clients ask about every product on the web, and the contractor needs to have an educated answer or be able to get the answer quickly.

What have you done to grow your business during the current economy? We’ve added a Kitchen, Tile and Flooring Showroom, which has helped in two distinct ways. The first was the additional revenue from the direct sales; the second was our ability to keep the client in our store during the selection process. Competitors became very aggressive here during the down turn and if you sent a client somewhere else to look for a product, you might lose them to someone else. Client retention during the proposal process is constant work and is something we are striving to be better at. We’ve changed our way of estimating, sales lead and project management as well as accounting. We now do everything in a cloud format where we can allow the customer to keep up on material selections and scheduling. We feel, when fully implemented, this will increase speed and accuracy for the flow of information, save on labor cost and make for a happier client.

What motivates you every day?  Waking up and watching the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.   My picturesque Maine town provides a quality of life that I am so very blessed to live and work in. I always know I will learn something new each day; the industry is exploding with new technologies and new products. When you have worked over thirty years in a profession and you are still excited about going to work, I think you can say you are blessed and motivated.?

Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments? I currently serve as secretary for the Homebuilders and Remodelers of Maine.

What is your favorite item in your office? My Mark Fidrych signed baseball that I toss in the air all the time. I am a reformed smoker, so the ball acts as a crutch while I am working at my desk and, of course, I was a fan of “The Birds.”

What is the most unusual project your company has completed? Each project presents its own unique and unusual challenges, which, for me, keeps remodeling interesting.  One project comes to mind because of how funny it was. The project had long roof overhangs. When we showed up to do the work, we realized there were at least a hundred wasp nests attached to the soffits. The ensuing attempts at removal were much like a slapstick comedy routine.?

What did you do before becoming a remodeler? I’ve always been a remodeler; I acquired my first general contractor’s license when I was 23.

As you were growing up, what did you want to be? I don’t remember anything else besides the construction industry.

What is the best advice you’ve received in your career? Quit my job and start my own company! 

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

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