NAHB Remodeler of Month: Success with Home Shows
Joseph Irons, GMR, CGR, CAPS, CGP, GMB
Irons Brothers Construction, Inc.
Shoreline, Wash., ironsbc.com
Title: President/General Manager
Year Founded: 1999
Number of Employees: 9
Other certifications: Lead Renovator, Healthy Homes Certified
QR: Who started your company?
JI: My oldest brother and I.
QR: When and how did you choose this career?
JI: After four years of being in business, I chose to turn remodeling into a career and not a job, and have built an award-winning company.
QR: How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?
JI: More professionalism, more subcontracting, more consumer awareness of products and materials—including green, energy efficiency and technology. There are more avenues for clients to do research and get ideas, such as Houzz, Pinterest and much more.
QR: What does being part of NAHB Remodelers mean to you?
JI: It means I have friends and family in the industry whom I can call and count on to help me with my personal and business growth.
QR: Where do you go to look for solutions and ideas for your business?
JI: I go to my friends and colleagues at the Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish county. I also look for ideas and solutions at the national remodeling and builders shows.
QR: What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
JI: The golden rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” Another is, “It’s only as hard as you make it.”
QR: Where and what are the greatest opportunities in the remodeling market?
JI: The universal design and aging-in-place market in the Pacific Northwest has been a large opportunity for our company.
QR: What have you done to grow your business during the current economy?
JI: Invested time and money into video marketing and social media marketing.
QR: Many remodelers are reporting increases in their average job size. Are you seeing this as well?
JI: Yes, our project volume and size of remodels have increased over the past year. I would attribute this to consumer confidence in the economy and more lending opportunities for our clients.
QR: Right now, is your focus on more growth or steady revenue at greater profitability?
JI: Our focus is both growth in larger projects and, also, steady revenue with increase in profits. Living through a couple recessions after 18 years of business, we would rather be a profit center than an employment center.
QR: Finding qualified labor is a challenge. Are you hiring this year, and how are you going about finding the right people for your company?
JI: Yes, we tend to want superstars but not craftsmen who are overtrained, as we want to teach them “our” way. We are always looking for new employees, but never want to be pressured into hiring the wrong person. It is better for us to utilize our subcontractors/specialty trades when volume is high instead of overhiring craftsmen for our team. We are lucky in that our latest hires have all searched our company out to come and work with us.
QR: What is your No. 1 source of leads right now, and why is it working?
JI: Home shows and home tours have been the most successful for large-dollar projects. The repeat and referral clients are still one of our highest volumes, but these are typically mid-sized projects.
QR: What is the most unusual project your company has completed?
JI: When completing a large whole-house remodel, our client’s large (approximately 1,500 bottles) wine cellar appeared to have some groundwater issues. This required our team to uninstall and rebuild a wine cellar, excavate over 20 yards of dirt (by 5-gallon buckets), and build a 30-foot-long by 4-foot-high retaining wall.
QR: If you could have a 30-minute conversation with any business leader in the country, who would it be?
JI: Howard Shultz.
QR: Favorite item in your office?
JI: Our universally designed bathroom, which includes a Kohler Numi start toilet. It’s always a conversation piece when a toilet has a music and light show.
QR: What motivates you every day?
JI: Having a variety of projects and clientele. Although we work in a small geographic range, we have the most talented staff and amazing clients to work with every day.
QR: Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments?
JI: Being one of the youngest presidents of the largest home builders’ association in the country (MBA of King & Snohomish Counties) when I was under the age of 40. | QR