NAHB Remodeler of the Month
Irons Brothers Construction, Shoreline, Wash.
Type of company: Full-service remodeler
Who started your company, and why?
My oldest brother, Bruce and I started the company in 1999. Working in construction since I was a child, I have always enjoyed building and constructing things, as well as problem solving and finding solutions. Being in business for ourselves allows us to enjoy our passion of designing and implementing construction solutions for homeowners, and also provides an income. It was a win-win.
When and how did you choose this career?
About five years after starting the company I realized it was my career. At the young age of 22 starting a company, I had no idea what I was in for or how much work it would be. At first it was a job and not a career, until I began my education and designation process with NAHB and took the CGR prep. Although I was exceptional at designing ideal solutions for our clients, I did not enjoy the administrative side of the business. I was always craving more education and knowledge to better myself and my company. My local builders association had a great program and I took advantage of it and earned my CGR and CAPS in 2004. With the coursework involved with these designations it allowed me to see all the weaknesses and strengths in my company. I was also able to meet and networking with other remodelers.
When and why did you join NAHBR?
Shortly after joining my local home builder’s association, I found our local remodelers council. In the early 2000s I joined. I realized that the remodeler’s council would benefit my company through its education and networking opportunities with other industry professionals.
If you could change one thing about the remodeling industry, what would it be?
The three bids. I believe homeowners got this from the insurance industry and BBB. I would like to change this to “interview” three companies and not solicit for three bids. As any professional remodeler knows, it’s not the number that counts, it’s what’s included or excluded from the proposal that matters. This includes warranty, customer service, expertise, liability coverage and much more. Also we are not in business to bid on projects, but build them.
What does your gut tell you about our current economic situation and when it will improve?
My company is succeeding despite economic downturn and has persevered. I believe that we are on the upturn in our area, and although the recovery may not be as quick as we want it feels as though it is on the rise as our backlog grows day to day. There are more buyers and less window shoppers.
What have you done to grow your business during the slowdown?
We improved our systems, managed more trade partners than staff, increased and diversified our marketing, and harvested our current client and referral base.
What is the most unusual project your company has completed?
Most of our unusual circumstances that have arisen for the company were to accommodate pets in the residences we are working on. From a downtown high rise condo with a cat to American Stafford terriers living at home during a large addition and kitchen remodel, these make our job more difficult, but also fun and laughable.
What is your most treasured possession?
My two daughters and lovely wife. Without the support of my wife I would not have been able to accomplish as much as I have and grow the company to an established and professional company. My girls are an inspiration for my success and growth.
What did you do before becoming a remodeler?
In high school I had a variety of jobs, including three years in the grocery industry. Here I started lowest on the totem pole as a bagger, then worked my way up to produce, and was a cashier when I left the company. I also had customer service experience firsthand with shoppers and also organizational skills. I most enjoyed produce where I learned to build and remodel my own fruit and vegetable displays. I also had a variety of second jobs. Being one of eight children I had to supplement my income to pay for schooling. Second jobs included working at a neighborhood produce stand, which gave me a new respect for quality products as they only displayed and sold the best of the best. After high school I worked for a timeshare company while going to college. Here I learned communication skills and sales techniques.
What motivates you every day?
Using my creative thinking to build and design our clients’ dreams and homes for the better.
What is your ideal project?
A custom and creative project with challenges. A client who appreciates the knowledge and expertise my company and I offer. And of course a healthy/realistic budget never hurts, either.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
My oldest brother Bruce’s advice when working in the field; It’s only as hard as you make it.
What has been the most important lesson learned from your peers at NAHBR?
I am not in it alone. There are no true secrets to running your own company and most members are willing to share their knowledge, expertise and lessons learned.
As you were growing up, what did you want to be?
Successful entrepreneur and leader.
Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments?
I am honored to be in the company of the best remodelers in the nation at my local and state building associations and nationally thru NAHBR. They have helped to catapult my company and personal success to where it is today.