2023 Fred Case Award Finalist: Making the Next Move

Stephen C. Gidley has been in business for half a century and is still evolving.

by Kyle Clapham

At a time when some remodelers might simply coast toward retirement, thinking there was nowhere else to go and nothing new on the horizon, Stephen C. Gidley, president and CEO of Gidley Remodeling in Fairfield, Connecticut, capitalized on his 55 years as a residential remodeler by establishing Gidley Property Group LLC, a real-estate brokerage that builds on his established remodeling business by offering repair, renovation, listing and selling services to homeowners.

The new venture is hardly surprising. Gidley recounts growing up with a mother who was a real estate agent for 45 years, watching her sell houses and represent clients. “Real estate and construction are brother and sister. Real estate runs the economy and construction is a close second. They’re the two bellwethers of the economy of the United States,” he says.

Gidley was a licensed real estate agent for six years before he became a licensed broker and brokerage entity last year. Having passed the exams for his brokerage license, he is able to list, market and sell a house under his real estate license in Connecticut. Under this arrangement he can do the remodeling, bring in a bank to do the financing, and represent the client from the very first day to the day they sell the house.

“I am in a position to control everything, including the market price for the house and return on investment for the owner. Having clients trust me from day one to the day they sell the house is very exciting to me,” Gidley says.

One of Gidley’s first projects was a rental property in Darien, Connecticut, that as a real estate agent Gidley took on as a listing. He was acquainted with the owners, whom he advised that the property really needed to be overhauled and remodeled. The exterior as well as the interior were upgraded to bring them up to the level of other homes in the neighborhood.

“It was a sleeper; it needed a lot of work,” Gidley says. “We put the money in, and we marketed it and sold it. That was my entry into the real estate market as a contractor.” The value of the home was improved, and the homeowner made a profit by going through the experience.

Instead of selling for $750,000 extensive remodeling work updated the home, allowing it to reach its full sales value of $1.25 million. Gidley served as the contractor and broker of record, advising the client and guiding them through the remodel toward a sale that realized an asking price they thought was out of reach. Gidley achieved his aim of preserving the home and its character while modernizing it to meet a new generation’s expectations.

Stephen C. Gidley Inc., dba Gidley Remodeling
Fairfield, Connecticut

Years in business: 55
Total number of employees: 2
Revenue: $3.9 million (2022); $3.8 million (2021)
Number of jobs: 75 (2022); 70 (2021)

So far, many of the jobs have been based on past relationships with homeowners for whom Gidley had done remodeling work over the years. Many are older couples who wish to downsize and retire and turn to Gidley to help them make the next move.

“This often pops up spontaneously, like this could happen tomorrow,” he says. “It’s the relationship that creates it, not the marketing. People know me; they know my background. If I’ve worked with them before they go to sell their house, they’re going to ask me to come aboard and talk to them.”

Gidley is setting his sights on houses and remodels that can sustain a full kitchen, bathroom, interior and exterior work. He’s looking at $3- to $5-million properties in his market area, which includes communities such as Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Westport, Southport and Fairfield.

Establishing the relationships that make Gidley’s contractor/broker role work didn’t happen overnight or by chance. He laid the groundwork by making Gidley Remodeling a one-call-gets-it-done firm, able to streamline projects and make things easy for clients, he says. The reputation that Gidley worked hard to establish and maintain over the years serves him well in his newest venture.

Gidley’s early rationale was that if he didn’t offer services in addition to remodeling such as gutters, chimney flashing, painting and roofing, clients would contract with someone else who did. Gidley diversified to ensure customer satisfaction and longevity, making Gidley Remodeling what Gidley describes as a one-stop shop, employing talented design staff, decorators, architects, carpentry, painting and roofing crews.

Today, Gidley has taken that diversification a step further, extending the one-stop philosophy to the eventual selling of the home as homeowners’ needs and preferences change with age or circumstances.

For some, Gidley’s brokerage plan might look like an exit strategy. After years as a full-service remodeler and traveling to and from jobsites in the tri-state area, he admits the idea of having an office with perhaps a couple of licensed agents working for him was appealing. On the other hand, the brokerage venture is simply an extension of what he’s done all along—offering a complete menu of remodeling services from start to finish. Stephen Gidley is hardly hanging up his remodeling tools. QR

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