Keith Allen-Custom Builder, Germantown, Tenn.
Year Founded: 1984
Who started your company?
When and how did you choose this career?
I grew up in the business. My father was a commercial contractor and I spent all of my summers working on his jobs.
What did you do before becoming a remodeler?
I was a custom home builder and spec builder before the crash.
As you were growing up, what did you want to be?
Never gave it any thought. Construction was the only thing I knew.
How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?
The technology used today has changed the way we handle every area of the business. From marketing, estimating, project management to the way we communicate with our clients.
What is the most unusual project your company has completed?
I have a client whose father came to me with a rotten wood deck. While there he also wanted a true wine cellar. That only problem was he only had about 18 in. of crawl space. We ended up supporting his house on beams while we excavated under it to provide a full basement. All the time they continued to live in the house. Eighteen months and $2 million later they have their dream home. All of that was done on a handshake without plans.
What is your favorite item in your office?
I have a friend who is a portrait artist. Over the years I have commissioned him to do pencil portraits of the people who have made as difference in my life. There are past clients and business mentors as well as my dad hanging on my wall. Every day they continue to encourage me.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
A long time ago a mentor shared with me a line form Sir Winston Churchill. NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP.
What does being part of NAHB mean to you?
I have been part of the NAHB from the very beginning of my career. I believe that one should support the industry that supports you. I also belong to a 20Club in the NAHB. Without question, that was the best move I ever made in my business.
What have you done to grow your business during the current economy?
Like everyone else I cut overhead to the bone but not soon enough. I also am very thankful for the man who taught me about customer service. As a result of customer service in the past, I was able to survive today.
What motivates you every day?
The fear of letting down then people who depend on me.