NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Consistent Communication

Clauss emphasizes his relationships with clients and partners depend on expectation management.

Emerson J. Clauss III
Allegiance Construction & Development LLC
Whitinsville, Mass.
allegiancecd.com

Title: President

Year founded: 2016

Number of employees: 8


QR: Who started your company?

EC: My son, Emerson IV, and I.

QR: When did you first start in remodeling?

EC: I started building homes in Connecticut with a builder/remodeler in 1977.

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

EC: Access to information, classes, books on our industry and trades, and access to lobbying efforts for our industry.

QR: How did you first become involved with taking on a leadership roles in Florida and now within the Builders & Remodelers Association of Greater Boston (BRAGB)? 

EC: I joined the Marion County, Florida, Builders Association and was immediately elected to the board; I got involved in local and state government and efforts to support our industry. I also was asked to represent our local at the state association, FHBA, of which I am a life director, having served more than 10 years in that position. I have learned much of what the associations have to offer, but more importantly—from the liaisons with our members—sharing information, trade ”secrets” and just the comradery overall.

QR: If you could have a conversation with any business leader, who would it be? 

EC: I like old school, so Warren Buffett or Lido Anthony “Lee” Iococca, two mavericks who faced big challenges and rose above them.

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

EC: To stick to it, never not complete a project and stay focused.

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

EC: We have added capacity by hiring and bringing in new and more independent contractors to work with us. And set expectations with our work partners and customers for what we do, how we perform, and that we finish jobs and have satisfied customers. In this day of media, the opposite can kill you.

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

EC: Customers are much more demanding and better informed.

QR: Is your focus on more growth or steady revenue at greater profitability right now?

EC: We are trying to sculpt our geographic locations and trim down how far we extend, so we can do better, larger projects with better profit margins. As a two-year-old company, we are still working on this and developing the strategies and relationships with the right partners who can assist in that goal. We are also positioned to do some speculative remodeling with some of the “tear down” opportunities that we can develop and resell.      

QR: What are some of the greatest opportunities in the remodeling market?

EC: Age of home stock (I am in the midst of [working on] some of the oldest around Boston), and the fact people are spending to upgrade their homes to be able  to stay in them, have blended families and the need to add utilities into these homes (bathrooms, expanded kitchens, etc.).

QR: Can you detail some of your top tips and/or guidelines as far as customer service? 

EC: Communication is key. Before the sale, setting expectations is critical; during the work, communication is a must; and then to close and follow up, including a call, email or note in the mail just to check in and see that our past work is fine and clients are happy. This last strategy has brought us so much new business—it’s a no-brainer.

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

EC: We took over a large deck project that another contractor had abandoned. It was a total mess, and we not only did an awesome job but ended up with a very happy client after the turmoil she lived through with this botched project. Nice feeling.

QR: Are you hiring, and how are you going about finding the right people?

EC: Many of our employees come through our current ones. They bring other skilled and sometimes semi-skilled people who want to learn, know how we work, and that we return the loyalty we get from them.

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

EC: We have had some good successes with Houzz, but so much is referrals. We even have some building commissioners recommending us to people—something usually unheard of.

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

EC: I talk to a lot of other builders in our area, tradespeople and even building officials. We then try to do as much education [as] we can, from NAHB, our local association and other sources as we find [them].   

QR: What is your favorite item in your office?

EC: I must admit, the pictures of my (now) 4-year-old grandson—my little buddy. Brightens up any day.

QR: What motivates you every day?

EC: The desire to see projects finished, doing final walk-through with a happy client who finds no defects, no “list” generated, no call backs. Getting paid is good too!

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

EC: One thing I brought to my local in Florida and to my new local in Boston is the idea of community outreach, developing “white hat” events or projects to share with the community and make sure they know that builders/remodelers give back to their communities. We at BRAGB donate a portion of each big fundraising event to a local charity and encourage our members to do the same, as individual companies or people. QR

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