NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Seeing the Bigger Picture
Nick Scheel, CGR
Arrow Kitchen and Bath
Spokane Valley, Wash.
Title: Vice President
Year company founded: 1981
Number of employees: 4
QR: Who started the company?
NS: My father and grandfather.
QR: How did you choose this career?
NS: I grew up on jobsites and worked in the business on and off throughout high school and college. After graduating with an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice, I decided against a career in law enforcement and chose instead to continue to focus on remodeling and the legacy at Arrow.
QR: What is the best advice you’ve received?
NS: Profit is a byproduct of doing the right thing and taking care of your customer. Proper business practices are critical, but if you concentrate too hard on the bottom line, you tend to lose focus on the bigger picture.
QR: Where do you go for solutions and ideas for your business?
NS: I have historically utilized our local Remodelers Council as well as trade publications for ideas. The last couple years I’ve started attending IBS, and that has been like drinking from a firehose when it comes to business ideas and solutions.
QR: What does being part of NAHB Remodelers mean to you?
NS: Comradery. The ability to meet, engage and build relationships and friendships with other individuals with similar experiences and who face the same challenges I do is the primary reason I am so active in the association.
QR: What are some of the takeaways from your role with the Young Professional’s Council, both locally and nationally?
NS: The main goal I think we all have is how to get more people like us to show up and get involved, and that was the basic premise we started with locally. Having a peer group of other individuals who are all in a similar place in life and their careers creates a less intimidating, low barrier to entry and allows us to then introduce mentorship and leadership opportunities, as well as the products and services we offer within the association.
QR: Is your business focus on more growth or steady revenue at greater profitability?
NS: A little bit of both actually; I am trying to moderately increase the number of projects this year while also tightening up on slippage and improving efficiencies.
QR: Are you hiring this year, and how are you going about finding the right people for your company?
NS: I am passively looking to hire. So far I’ve had some success with luck and patience. I’ve picked up my last couple employees through a combination of word-of-mouth with the right people who know me and how I operate all while simply having the right timing.
QR: What have you done to grow your business during the current economy?
NS: The economy is pretty good right now, so I am trying to take advantage of the work that is available. I have been able to be a little more selective on the types of projects I take on, and I have focused on more profitable projects.
QR: What are the greatest opportunities in the remodeling market?
NS: I think an aging housing stock and diminished land availability are going to continue to drive the remodeling market, and I don’t see those issues being resolved any time in the near future.
QR: How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?
NS: Technology [in] the ease in which we communicate with our team and clients as well as streamlining of every major project management task has certainly changed since I began.
QR: What is your No. 1 source of leads right now, and why is it working?
NS: Referral and repeat business drives the majority of what we do. Our business is so dependent on building that level of trust—we work in people’s homes, amongst their family and most valued possessions. It takes an incredible level of trust for that to happen, and I think firsthand referrals from friends and family help to create that instant credibility.
QR: Are you seeing an increase in your average job size?
NS: Yes and no, scopes have expanded to some degree as well as a willingness to spend on more wants versus needs. The biggest increase I have seen in project values is cost driven. Labor rates and material cost increases have been the largest single factor driving up our overall project values.
QR: What is the most unusual project your company has completed?
NS: We had a client years ago that we did a lot of work for, and the last project we completed was a master bathroom remodel. The client wanted two toilets in the bathroom. We tried to talk him into a urinal; not only did he insist on two toilets, but side by side, [and] one without a seat because he “never wanted to put a toilet seat down ever again.”
QR: Can you give an example of a situation where customer service and attention to detail really came together on a project?
NS: For me, it’s simply taking pride in what we do, and good customer service is a measure of properly communicating and managing expectations. It doesn’t always manifest in additional profit on a specific job, but it pays dividends in goodwill which results in more referrals and thus more volume.
QR: If you could have a conversation with any business leader, who would it be?
NS: I would have to say Richard Branson. It’s a life goal of mine to be able to do my job from a beach in the Caribbean somewhere, and I think he might have some pretty good insight on that.
QR: What is your favorite item in your office?
NS: I work remotely from home the majority of the time; my desk shares a space with my pool table. Now if only I had time to play …
QR: What motivates you every day?
NS: For me, life is about the experiences. I enjoy traveling and spending time with friends and family.
QR: Anything you’d like to mention about career accomplishments?
NS: I credit myself with very little of my success; I make it a practice to surround myself with the right people and then let them do what they do best. | QR
Apply to be a future NAHB Remodeler of the Month by visiting nahb.org/rom. (Note you must be a NAHB Remodelers member.)