NAHB Remodeler of the Month
Allen Griffin, CGR, CAPS, CGP, GMB
Gryphon Builders, Houston
Number of employees: 4
Q: How did you start in the remodeling business?
A: I discovered my love for drafting when I took an architectural class in high school. The idea of designing something and then seeing it come to fruition was very appealing and still is. I thought I wanted to be an architect, so when I was 18, I took a summer job with a framing company for the practical experience. I realized I was good at managing projects and people, so I decided to postpone college and go to work with a reputable builder. Although the experience was beneficial, I wanted to do something more artistic and personal; thus, Gryphon Builders was born.
Q: How has your company evolved?
A: Gryphon Builders has matured as a business because I have matured as a business owner. I have had to redefine my business plan a couple of times during the past 12 years. As hard as it is sometimes, I understand the ability to adapt is the only way to succeed. I see current economic challenges confronting the remodeling industry as an opportunity to improve how I run my company. The evolution comes with my desire to do it better.
Q: How has the industry changed since you’ve been involved?
A: I think I’m the one who has changed. The industry will have its ups and downs, but it will always be about building. As I get older, I realize best building practices aren’t just about the structure, they are about my clients. I don’t guarantee the lowest price, but I do guarantee expertise and substantial knowledge about available options. The industry will continue to have new products, systems and design ideas to offer homeowners. It is my responsibility to know what they are. For me, it’s not just about building anymore, it’s about building something that meets the needs of my client.
Q: What have you done to grow your business in this economy?
A: I decided to increase my advertising and marketing efforts in 2010. I hired a marketing director and, in addition to traditional efforts, I wrote articles for the local newspaper and purchased ads in a Houston magazine. I learned consistently marketing my company is not an option; it is a necessity. Keeping in front of potential clients and staying in touch with past clients are the best ways to increase business.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Remodeling is more than making structural changes to a house; it is the process of transforming a home. Building a new house is about the finished product. Remodeling is more personal because we are working with memories and traditions. I am driven by the desire to not only design a structure that suits the family, but also to design a construction process that respects them. Again, I enjoy seeing the vision turn into something tangible, but I think I like the sincere appreciation of my clients even more. I’m lucky; some of them even call me “friend.”
Q: What does being part of NAHB mean to you?
A: I give a great deal of credit for my success to the Greater Houston Builders Association and by extension the National Association of Home Builders. Admittedly, I joined the GHBA Remodelers Council years ago to further my business, but along the way my involvement has developed into so much more. I never saw myself as someone who was experienced enough to serve on the board, much less be president. However, because others in this association believed in me and challenged me to be better, I have grown professionally and, more importantly, personally.
Q: What is the best advice you have received?
A: “Stop being part of the problem.” I’ll never forget it. I was fishing with a couple of my professional peers and naturally the conversation turned to business. In short, it was pointed out to me I was under-selling myself and my abilities. In doing so, I was devaluing what I do and remodeling in general. We are not the “Chuck in the truck” guys; we are talented, educated and experienced professionals dedicated to giving our clients quality work and exceptional client care. Therefore, we should be compensated as such.
Q: What is your favorite item in your office?
A: I am embarrassed to say, but it is my chair. As any business owner knows, long hours are just part of the deal. Occasionally, a nap takes the place of lunch.
Board member (seven years) and president, Greater Houston Builders Association Remodelors Council
Member, GHBA education and membership committees
Membership chair, Custom Builders Council, GHBA
Trustee, GHBA HomePac
Alternate, state board, Texas Association of Builders
2009 HomeAid House of Tiny Treasures
2010 HomeAid Project Independence
2011 HomeAid SIRE Therapeutic Equestrian Center
Institute of Real Estate Management Houston, Support Our Troops