9 Pros Named Home Improvement ‘Legends’

Augustine, Elias, Farmer, Kaliner, Fredrick, Vince and Anthony Nardo, Spector, Wegner and Zisman were recently honored.

authors Patrick O'Toole | December 10, 2018

The Legends of the Home Improvement Industry Awards were recently held in Baltimore, where nine home improvement pros were honored. The event, held in conjunction with the Sales & Marketing Executive Symposium, has been held every few years since its launch in 2000.

Nominations are submitted by peers from around the industry; then, prior recipients and members of the Dave Yoho Associates consulting firm cast deciding votes on the award winners.

This year’s recipients, in alphabetical order, are Ed Augustine, founder and CEO of Paramount Builders; Brian Elias, founder of 1-800-HANSONS; Frank Farmer, founder and president of American Metal Roofs; Adam Kaliner, co-founder of Power Home Remodeling Group; Wayne Fredrick of Alside Corp.; Vince and Anthony Nardo, president and CFO respectively, of Reborn Cabinets; Mitchell Spector, president of Woodbridge Home Exteriors; LeRoy Nelson Wegner, vice president of ABC Seamless; and Joe Zisman, president of Renewal by Andersen of Central PA. Hosts for the event were David Moore of Moore Holdings and Murray Gross, previously of U.S. Home Systems.

Ed Augustine
Founder and CEO
Paramount Builders
Virginia Beach, Va.

Augustine is a 27-year industry veteran who followed his father into the business. He has built Paramount Builders into a regional powerhouse with eight offices from Maryland to Florida. The company specializes in replacement windows, vinyl siding/trim packages, replacement entry doors, roofing and gutter systems.

Today, the company employs 365 people and has received numerous industry awards, including Alside Preservation Dealer of the Decade, GAF’s President’s Award, and ProVia’s Platinum Club.

“My dad was an aluminum-siding salesman, selling DuPont Tedlar siding. I went on leads as a young man, with my dad. I was very proud of him. I felt the success and experienced some of the pain of an in-home salesperson. I believe that gave me the drive and desire to build a great place for people to work,” Augustine said in his induction remarks. “I ran my first lead at age 18 on Oct. 20, 1983. Mable Coleman was my first customer. After relocating to Virginia, I obtained a sales management position and, at 23, I became a national training manager. Then in 1991, at the age of 27, I opened Paramount Builders, Inc.”

Brian Elias
Founder
1-800-HANSONS
Troy, Mich.

Elias established his reputation as a successful entrepreneur by founding 1-800-HANSONS and building it into a $75 million home improvement company. Founded in 1988, HANSONS has grown to be one of the 10 largest home improvement companies in the U.S., employing more than 500 people. Elias is responsible for numerous techniques, which today are utilized by many successful home improvement companies.

In 2012, Elias received The Fred Case Entrepreneur of the Year Award, primarily for the advances he has achieved in technology, which include computerized canvassing, mobile appointment setting and a 1-800-HANSONS monitoring station or command center.

Since 1988, Elias has worked to share a common company culture. “Our strategy is not complex: Put the customer first. Then, utilize a team of dedicated people that get it done. After all, that is the ultimate scoreboard: We either get it done for our customer or we don’t.”

Frank Farmer
Founder and President
American Metal Roofs
Flint, Mich.

Farmer is the founder and president of American Metal Roofs. Prior to entering the metal roofing business, he built an apartment locator business, was a salesman and then a sales manager for a sizable third- generation window replacement retailer. He also developed a tax business with 12 franchises throughout Michigan.

These seemingly unrelated tasks led him to study and practice in-home selling, which he used to pioneer many methods to market and sell metal roofing. Founded in 1998, his metal roofing company grew to be one of the largest specialty metal roofing companies in the nation, with two offices and 50 employees. His company also developed the first solar roof and ice dam solutions, the Heated Shingle and Ice Dam Cutter. They also developed a specialty line of trims and ventilation products, which have been licensed to the industry.

Today, Farmer’s company is highly customer-satisfaction oriented. “There is a big payoff in having a superior product to sell. When you leave highly satisfied customers, you reap the benefit of repeat business and referrals.”

Adam Kaliner
Co-founder
Power Home Remodeling Group
Chester, Pa.

After graduating from the University of Maryland in May 1992, Adam Kaliner and his cousin Jeff Kaliner co-founded Power Home Remodeling Group, working out of an apartment in Delaware. They performed all the tasks of their new business. They solicited for leads, they set appointments, and then they made the presentations to make the sale.

Twenty-six years later, Power Home Remodeling Group is a $500 million home improvement business. They operate with very high customer satisfaction, which comes from identifying the details necessary to each project so that it meets the needs and value system of the purchaser. In their original business plan, the Kaliners focused on employee culture. It took time, effort and understanding, particularly as they expanded and moved into several major U.S. markets rapidly. In 2010, the duo was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Power has been able to leverage its focus on customer service to drive its growth from one location in 2008 to more than 14 in 2018. The dramatic growth comes from meeting many of the hurdles and challenges to growing a home improvement business. “We currently employ more than 2,500 in 14 territories and are proceeding with new growth plans for the next few years,” Kaliner says.

Wayne Fredrick
Alside Corp.
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Lifetime of Leadership Award

The Lifetime of Leadership Award is awarded to individuals who have contributed significantly to the home improvement industry without actually owning or leading a home improvement firm. Frederick served the industry as an employee then a manager for 35 years with Alside, a leading manufacturer of siding, rain-carrying equipment and replacement windows.

Moving up through various sales management positions, he became vice president of Alside where he oversaw—among other things—the OMNI window sales program, one of the first major programs to support training and marketing for high-end window products.

Frederick went on to create the successful Preservation Window and Siding Program. In 2008, he retired as executive vice president of sales. Frederick said his goal was to establish close relationships between his customers and his company. And his job description, as he interpreted it, was to help small business owners in growing their business.

Vince and Anthony Nardo
President and Vice President/CFO
Reborn Cabinets
Anaheim, Calif.

While on welfare and looking for a better way to provide for their family, Vinny and Brenda Nardo, Vince and Anthony’s mother and father, left the New York area and headed to California with hand tools and an aging station wagon. With a strong desire for a better life and a determination to make it happen, Vinny launched Reborn Cabinets in 1982 in a 1,200-square-foot shop in Anaheim, California.

Vince and Anthony joined their parent’s business as teenagers, working in the cabinet shop. They honed their skills and sought methods to educate then re-educate themselves in all areas of the business. In 2000, Vince became the sales manager and Anthony managed the back end of the business. By 2009, Vince became president, and Anthony CFO of Reborn Cabinets, which today produces $52 million in annual sales. They operate from a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility with 10,000 square feet of display vignettes and showroom.

Today, Reborn operates retail centers in Anaheim, Torrance, Lake Forest, San Diego and Pleasanton, California, and a new office in Las Vegas. In addition to kitchen replacement, they are one of the largest independent cabinet-refacing companies in the U.S. with 85 salespeople and total staffing of more than 450 people. The company subscribes to the concept of scientific selling methods. They endorse a belief that a sound sales methodology is at the forefront of their success.

Mitchell Spector
President
Woodbridge Home Exteriors
Dallas

Spector began his career in the home improvement industry when he went to work for his father’s home improvement company in 1976. In 1986, he left to open his own home improvement company with a focus on siding and windows. Today, Woodbridge Home Exteriors generates annual revenues of $36 million with three offices, 33 salespeople and a total of 195 employees.

To meet the challenges of its growing business in recent years, his company shifted marketing from totally in-bound media-driven leads to include out-bound canvassing, plus shows and events. The latter now represents 50 percent of all issued leads.

Significantly, Spector added customer-care employees who examine and verify customer satisfaction via phone at the end of each job. There are regular measurements of every step along the lead path—leads to issue, issue to demo, and demo to sale—which enable Woodbridge to reduce total lead costs. In addition, an ongoing sales retraining initiative slowly increased the close rate. The company is currently closing 40 percent of issued leads from all sources.

Among its many honors, Woodbridge Home Exteriors has received the GuildQuality Guildmaster Award, Qualified Remodeler’s Top 500 for nine consecutive years, the “Ethics in Business” Award, and a Consumer’s Choice Award, among others.

Spector believes that how we act as individuals and then collectively act as a company is the biggest factor in whether the business will succeed or fail. He believes that if people are treated with respect and integrity, success will follow. Further, he believes the core value of a company is central to how we conduct ourselves in business and in life.

LeRoy Nelson Wegner
Vice President
ABC Seamless
Fargo, N.D.

ABC Seamless operates with a combination of company owned offices and 90 franchises in 30 states. In addition to producing the equipment, they provide training and advice, enabling the franchisees to sell their unique product. ABC also teaches the franchisee a custom-designed selling and installation process. That’s where Wegner made major contributions to his company and the industry.

According to Wegner, he found his calling in sales and marketing after reading the book, “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling,” by Frank Bettger. The knowledge gained from that book, he says, was the foundation for his success in sales and created a life fulfilling education on how to work with people.

Wegner joined ABC in 1989 as the company’s franchise trainer. In 1992, he had an opportunity to buy out one of the original co-owners and became a partial owner at ABC Seamless. Wegner credits his partnership with Jerry Beyers, an earlier recipient of this Legends award, as being the best years of his business career.

Joe Zisman
President and CEO
Renewal by Andersen of Central Pa
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Zisman is the recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Community Contributor of the Year Award by Renewal by Andersen. His firm has placed in the top 25 Best Places to Work in Central Pennsylvania for four consecutive years and has been in the Top 500 companies ranked by Qualified Remodeler for 20-plus years.

Zisman has grown his company from the ground up with principals established by his father, the founder of the business. As an outcome, the company is paced to exceed over $53 million in revenues in 2018.

“Growing a company is like a growing family,” Zisman says. “Everyone is important, and it is important to let them know that,” Zisman’s father, Marvin, was a posthumous recipient of this award 20 years ago. In a family tradition, Zisman has continually strived to build his company with old-fashioned virtues, coupled with modern marketing and sales tactics, while never forgetting his father, his original mentor. | QR

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