NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Bridging the Gap
Who started your company? I’m a third-generation builder and operate a company started by my grandfather, Mario Sapia, then run by my father, Sal Sapia, all in the same town we still call home.
When did you choose this career? Like most family businesses, I grew up working for my father and the company until I went to college at Northeastern University in Boston. After college I met my wife and made the decision to move back home to the Connecticut River Valley area, where I knew I could continue a profession I enjoyed and excel at something that came naturally to me—and enabled me to provide for our soon-to-be family.
What does being part of NAHB Remodelers mean to you? It means that as a company, my team and I are working in the right direction to further our commitment in the field of construction as professionals. Being a part of a local and national organization such as NAHB means that we care and consider elements of our industry on a macro level, but also strive to do our best within our local community.
Why did you become a member of your local chapter? At first it was continuing education and expanding my knowledge of the industry; however, over the years those original intentions have become a desire to affiliate and work alongside a prestigious group of building and remodeling teams.
How has remodeling changed? The current level of detail focused around building science, performance and related systems has evolved significantly and is now more than ever driving general construction specifications and scope of work. Our remodeling projects have grown in size to address whole-house issues such as energy efficiency, water management, quality of building envelope and air quality.
What are the greatest opportunities in the remodeling market? I think the trend in our market stems from a shrinking raw-land market, which drives potential clients towards purchasing existing homes and pursuing larger, full-scale, whole-house renovation projects equal to—or greater in—project value than that of new construction starts.
What is the biggest challenge right now for your business? With current costs of construction rising for materials and the trades, I often find a “budget gap” between actual cost of construction and the perceived cost from the client. To me, it’s a common and very natural part of the process to go through a working period of value engineering the construction costs of a project to align with a client’s budget. I address it with early involvement and full transparency. Whether it’s a property walk-through, a concept budget or the final submittal of a bid, my best projects involve early dialogue and an open budget.
What is your focus as a remodeler/business owner? Definitely employee satisfaction followed by recruiting. Having a complete and cohesive building team is a project’s biggest asset. That resource—having a dedicated group of people whose talents and traits complement each other—will bring a project from start to finish quicker and at a higher quality.
Where do you look for solutions/ideas for your business? Our industry is always bombarded with new product development and technologies. Combine that with new standards for things like building science and structural engineering, and there becomes this constant need for product knowledge and training. Therefore, we turn to our vendors and suppliers, who do a great job of making staff available for training on the job site and, in many cases, providing trips to their facilities and factories for education at the source.
How do you find the right people to work at your company? We try to balance our recruitment strategy with young professionals coming out of trade school—or at the beginning of their career—combined with efforts to seek out those who are older and have established skill sets. The idea is to provide a mentorship for our younger employees to encourage professional growth.
What is your No. 1 source for leads, and why is it working? With our current market trend from new construction to whole-house renovation projects, I place a lot of value on my relationships with our local architects and real estate professionals. They provide clients with our background, provide the initial referral and give us the opportunity to make a first impression that may turn into a project. QR