Fred Case Award Goes to Maryland Remodeler

by Patrick OToole
A.J. Ballantine

BETHESDA, Md.—The remodeling industry’s top business and entrepreneurship award, one that carries a $10,000 lump-sum prize, was awarded yesterday to A.J. Ballantine, owner of Cornerstone Remodeling, LLC in Ellicott City, Md.

Named for the founder of Case Architects and Remodelers, The Fred Case Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year Award was launched in 2007 and has quickly become one of the industry’s most prestigious. The award’s prestige is generally attributed to the rigor with which applicants are vetted and its intense focus on business practices as key criteria.

Bruce Case, CEO of Case Architects and Remodelers, presented the award Nov. 16, 2020 as part of the opening keynote of the Remodeling Show. Case brought Ballantine onto the Zoom screen for the big moment, complete with the presentation of a giant foam check. In making the presentation, Case cited Cornerstone’s strong systems and processes as well as its decision-making during widespread shutdowns this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, the company quickly instituted a buttoned-up approach to virtual client meetings and sales calls.

“My father, Fred Case, created this Award to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of remodelers and the importance of creativity and innovation in the remodeling industry.  In the face of the pandemic, A.J. and his team exemplified these traits by creating a remote engagement strategy tying design software—including 3D viewer apps and AI technology—with remote estimating capabilities,” said Bruce Case of 2020 Fred Case Award recipient.

The full-service firm has 10 employees, not including Ballantine, and offers a range of interior and exterior design-build services. When asked what he will do with the money, Ballantine said it would go toward his family’s pending adoption of three siblings, all under the age of five, from Latin America.

Finalists, Criteria and Past Winners

Three other remodelers were previously named finalists for the 2020 award. Each received $2,500. They are Joseph Irons of Irons Brothers Construction, Shoreline, Wash.; Seth Larson of Stel Builders Inc. and Resilient Roofing, Inc., San Diego; and Von Raisanen of TraVek Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz.

To qualify for the award applicants must own a full-service remodeling business billing under $6 million in revenue. It must be continually operational during the previous three years. And he or she must demonstrate having made a lasting contribution to the remodeling industry. The award is for individuals or partners, not companies, who can demonstrate strength in four areas: community service, business acumen, achievement, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Previous recipients of the award are:

  • 2019 – Richard Laughlin, Laughlin Homes & Restoration, Fredericksburg, Texas
  • 2018 – Michael Sauri, TriVistaUSA, Arlington, Va.
  • 2017 – Brian Diamond, Quality Home Exteriors, Omaha, Neb.
  • 2016 – Chris Risher & Jeremy Martin, RisherMartin Fine Homes, Austin, Texas
  • 2015 – Bob Gockeler, KraftMaster Renovations, Chatham, N.J.
  • 2014 – Bill Simone, Custom Design & Construction, El Segundo, Calif.
  • 2013 – Nick Richmond, Matrix Basement Systems, Arlington Heights, Ill.
  • 2012 – Brian Elias, 1-800-Hansons, Troy, Mich.
  • 2011 – Tom Kelly, Neil Kelly Co., Portland, Ore.
  • 2010 – Matt Plaskoff, Plaskoff Construction, Van Nuys, Calif.
  • 2009 – Iris Harrell, Harrell Remodeling, Mountain View, Calif.
  • 2008 – Sal Ferro, Alure Home Improvements, East Meadow, N.Y.
  • 2007 – John Abrams, South Mountain Co., West Tisbury, Mass.

Judges for the award are Bruce Case, Kermit Baker of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and last year’s recipient, Richard Laughlin of Laughlin Homes & Restoration. QR

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