The multi-level decks were added by Friga Construction to update this home's exterior and provide more outdoor living space.
Friga Construction, Springfield, MO
Title: President and General Manager
Year Founded: 1974
Number of Employees: 10
Who started your company? My father, Ralph, started the company in 1974. I became a Springfield policeman, what my college degree is for, but I told my dad if he moved to Springfield I would leave the police department. So in 1985, he moved out here and we started Friga Inc. I took over in January of 1985.
How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved? I think the biggest thing is the variety of equipment that improves the quality of the projects. We’ve become very reliant on equipment and materials to do projects. The biggest thing about that is you’re able to offer the clients more diversity than we ever had whenever I was growing up.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career? Be yourself and always tell the truth so you never have to remember what you said.
What have you done to grow your business during the current economy? Our focus has been stronger in the residential market because there were so few contractors left at the end of the recession. There was an opening for a quality contractor who had equipment, manpower, all the insurance and everything already in place. I had been through other big dips, and I always saw after the big drops anybody who was still standing would be at the forefront whenever it started back up. So we positioned ourselves to be at that place whenever the recession started the upturn.
What does being part of NAHB mean to you? Being part of NAHB has given me more of the standard and the clients’ respect; people that belong to organizations have a recognition. It has probably closed several projects just because of my affiliation.
What motivates you every day? I like challenge, and I like working with my family. Both my sons and daughter work for me and of course I took over from my father, so I like working with my family. I also like the challenge of meeting clients, meeting their needs and making suggestions that either save them money or get their projects done in a way that they, frequently, don’t even realize was possible.
What is the most unusual project your company has completed? We’ve done several historical renovations, like the Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site (the son of Daniel Boone) in Ash Grove. We did the guard tower at the center of a level five prison with inmates. We bid it to the state of Missouri, and I had very little competition as nobody really wanted to work there. We also built the only triangle shaped building in Springfield. That was probably the most complex job we’ve ever done. It was an architect’s design and a new building from the ground up.
What is your favorite item in your office? My Confederate Civil War newspaper. It has runaway slave ads, talks about the battles that are going on that day and it’s from Richmond, Va. I’m a Civil War nut, so I’ve got Civil War all the way around my office.
Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments? I started volunteering and working with a group in Haiti in 2006. I built three schools, two clinics, two houses, did water well repair, installed inverter systems and a wind-powered generator, and other miscellaneous stuff. I was there four days after the earthquake in 2010. I’d have to look at my passport and count how many times I’ve been to Haiti; it’s probably at least 60 trips. Now, I’m doing things on my own; my goal is to develop it into working with non-governmental organizations that are looking for a contractor. I have my own tools there, I shipped my own truck there, and I have a house that I rent that serves as my base of operation.