Stuart Gaines, CGP, LEED Green Associate
New Blue Construction, Inc., Chattanooga, Tenn.
Year Founded: August 2008
Number of Employees: 15-19, seasonally adjusting
Type of company: Full-service remodeling
Involvements: President 2014 Remodelers Council HBA of Greater Chattanooga
Who started your company?
I did. I am still 100% owner of the company.
When and how did you choose this career?
There’s trade history in my family, and I did pick-up carpenter work in college. I then worked as a carpenter in North Carolina and Tennessee before going to work with my father, Steve, who was building new custom homes before the recession. I worked with dad as project manager, carpenter, laborer, roustabout – whatever was required. When dad decided to hang up his spurs, I started New Blue as a very small remodeling business focused primarily on staying alive during the depths of the economic downturn.
What does being part of NAHB mean to you?
Teamwork. Education. Being part of an organization that helps keep our business strong.
How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?
We started in the doldrums of the downturn, building anything and everything we could get our hands on just to keep the ball moving downfield. In the last couple of years as New Blue has grown and our area’s market has improved, we are now able to do larger and more interesting projects in partnership with good architects and engaged clients. We’ve been blessed to stay busy with interesting and challenging projects in recent times.
What have you done to grow your business during the current economy?
Making clients happy one job at a time. Choosing good jobs (and saying no to bad ones). Limited, but targeted advertising; mostly, word-of-mouth has helped us grow.
What is the most unusual project your company has completed?
We completed an 18-month historical restoration of a 1906-built home in an historic neighborhood here in Chattanooga. The previously-condemned house pushed us to our limits in bringing the project to code and respecting the owner’s wishes to be as authentic to the period of the home as possible. We also achieved a green-built certification for the project, achieving a HERS index rating of 66, a first for the program as a remodel entry. In addition to the green elements of the project, we salvaged and restored multiple materials in the home: refinishing hardwoods; salvaging unique moldings; and fabricated an island top and the interior stair treads in our shop out of old heart pine salvaged from areas of the demolition. Recycling at its finest. A great job with a great client; we are very proud of the end result.
What is your favorite item in your office?
A picture of me with my firstborn, Hattie Rose, right after she was born hangs over my desk. Nothing here is possible or worthwhile without my beautiful and supportive wife, Jamie, and all four of my daughters.
Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments?
I would be nowhere without the amazing team around me at New Blue. We have succeeded, in part, by diversifying our business model. We have in-house divisions in paint, carpentry and architectural woodworking. A willingness to succeed at a variety of commercial and residential jobs has been an advantage to our standing here in Chattanooga.