NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Technology Improves Service

by Kacey Larsen

John Gillette, GMB, GMR, CGR, CAPS, CR, CGB
Craftsmanship by
John, Inc., Houston

Title: President

Year Founded: 1992

Number of Employees: 27

QR: Who started your company?

JG: I, John Gillette, did.

QR: When and how did you choose this career?

JG: When I was 14 years old, I found a builder that would let me sweep out houses and as I worked there, I became intrigued by how things went together. As the years passed, I took other jobs but I always came back to construction.

QR: What did you do before becoming a remodeler? 

JG: Before becoming a remodeler, I was in school and working numerous part-time jobs.

QR: What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?

JG: “Do it now. Why put off for tomorrow what you can do today?” That has to be the best advice that I have received.

QR: If you could have a 30-minute conversation with any business leader in the country, who would it be?

JG: There are too many to pick just one—knowledge is everything, and I would love to get that from all the great business leaders in the country.

QR: How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?

JG: Now there is better technology to help us provide better service and increase our efficiency. We use tablets in the field, which allows us to communicate quickly. They are a great help with keeping everyone on track. We use 3-D design software which allows our clients to visualize their projects during the planning phase. This is a great benefit as the client can make and see changes while the project planning is in process.

QR: What does being part of NAHB Remodelers mean to you?

JG: It means that I have a great opportunity to have an affiliation with colleagues and associates. The NAHB Certification Programs help me provide better customer service and to stay up-to-date with important issues in the industry that may affect my company and clients.

QR: Where do you go to look for solutions and ideas for your business? 

JG: The internet is a great tool to look for solutions and ideas. I also look to industry leaders for their ideas and solutions.

QR: What is your focus as a remodeler—more growth or steady revenue at greater profitability?

JG: Both. We want to continue growing and, of course, want a greater profitability which we can accomplish because employees have a great potential here. And if you pair that up with the system we have in place, well then there’s really nothing we can’t accomplish.

QR: Many remodelers are reporting increases in their average job size; are you seeing this as well?

JG: Yes, we are. Because many of our clients are repeat clients or referrals, there is an automatic trust factor. New clients see the quality of our work and our commitment to service, become comfortable, and realize how much more we can do for them.

QR: Are you hiring this year and how are you going about finding the right people for your company?

JG: We are hiring and it is a challenge, but through vetting and trial work periods we have found the right people for us.

QR: What have you done to grow your business during the current economy? 

JG: Marketing—we have a great consultant and marketing team. We have also been able to hire better qualified people. Overall, I think it’s the quality of work that we do when times are good or bad and our reputation that helps our business grow.

QR: What is your No. 1 source of leads right now, and why is it working?

JG: That would have to be word-of-mouth. Most of our leads are through referrals from people we worked for and even people that we ended up not working for but who were impressed by our process.

QR: What is the most unusual project your company has completed?

JG: We actually have two very interesting projects. One is a new build, and a challenge with that project was the shape of the lot. The goal was to get the maximum amount of homes built on a triangular-shaped lot. So, we created the house at the tip of the triangle in a triangular shape to maximize square footage. This created some unique challenges with the project (creating a variable pitch gable roof to have the ride at the same elevation, creating rooms to fit in the space, fitting a kitchen with non-45-degree walls, entry location, etc.).

The interesting challenge with the other project is it had to be within the footprint of the house and fit everything into it. It’s a three-story home with two extra stories—one is a mezzanine and one is an attic/balcony.

QR: What motivates you every day

JG: God.

QR: What is your favorite item in your office?

JG: The display of custom framed project photos in our sitting room for our clients to admire.

QR: Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments?

JG: I went from a one-man operation to a well-respected company that has won numerous awards throughout the years. | QR

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