NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Hard Work Pays Off

by Kacey Larsen

How did you get into the industry and what inspired you to start your own remodeling company?

After graduating high school, I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my life and career. I started by enrolling in trade school and obtaining an electrician’s license. Soon after, I enrolled at the University of Kentucky and worked through college with a local general contractor, making my way from clean-up guy to project manager. In 2008—when the country was in an economic downturn—my employer informed us that cuts and layoffs may be in the future. It was then that I met with him and expressed interest in starting my own company. I had already planned to do so one day, and this was the push that I needed to chase my dreams as a business owner. Starting a company during an economic recession took a lot of determination, but thankfully we survived and are grateful that we’ve been able to grow to where we are today.

What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?

“If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

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

In the 20 years I have been in the industry, everything has become so much faster. From cell phones to scheduling, the speed has drastically increased. The consumer is also so much more educated on the construction process and the products that go into their project.

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

I pay attention. I follow the trends that are happening nationally, and I listen to what my competitors are saying locally. We have a tremendous sense of community here, and we all discuss industry issues with the hope that everyone benefits.

What does being part of NAHB Remodelers mean to you?

For me, it is being part of a larger family with a network of professionals and a wealth of knowledge where I can turn for answers in our industry. It allows an opportunity for our local chapter to reach out to our national chapter and talk to lawmakers about the issues that are impacting us in the field.

What led you to become a member of your local NAHB chapter, BIA of Central Kentucky, and what keeps you involved and engaged?

I knew I had wanted to get involved early in my career. I was involved as an employee prior to starting my company and saw the benefits that it could offer me as a business owner. Staying involved keeps me in tune with changes in our industry and serves as a community of knowledge in which I can both learn from others and contribute my expertise.

A few leadership positions you’ve held with your local include President Elect of the BIA, Remodelers’ Council Chair and helping start the Emerging Leaders group. What drives you to be involved with the local association in these leadership roles?

At a time when most young people believe going to college is the best way to find a career, I am watching our subcontractors and tradespeople struggle to find qualified employees. As a young professional, it is my passion to promote our industry to young people and show them you can make a great career here.   

Can you share a bit about the Egress Door Requirements you and others in the chapter’s Government Affairs Committee are lobbying to get changed in the building codes?

The egress requirement would mandate that all interior bedroom and bathroom doors meet egress. The change would drastically change existing floor plans and make many existing building lots not wide enough to build on. Through the local and national chapters, we have worked to ensure that this change will not go into effect.

Some of your involvement and community service efforts include the construction of Amya’s House through BIA Cares and the Build-A-Bed project. Why is involvement in such efforts important to you?

It’s a team effort to care and give back to our community. Even the smallest bit of time toward helping out can impact the rest of the young person’s life. Whether it be the vendors donating and giving material to make these projects happen or my—along with others—simply giving time. When it’s all hands on deck, we can accomplish so much.

What is your focus for your business?

We are looking to grow the business and bring on more people in the next 12 months. Our goal is to become a more well-rounded company with more defined roles within, which will in turn improve the overall experience for our clients.

Have you seen a change to the average job size and/or types of projects clients are seeking?

We have seen two trends, the first being with kitchen remodels. Kitchen remodels have evolved into more whole first-floor remodels, where taking out a wall leads to a first-floor layout change. The second [trend] being the continued rise in outdoor living projects. Clients are wanting to be outdoors with all the amenities they would have inside (i.e. TV, fireplace, serving/entertaining areas, etc.)

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

We have always had a strong repeat and referral client base. We also work closely with local vendors and suppliers to give each customer the best experience possible.

Where and what are the greatest opportunities in the remodeling market?

This has always been an industry where you get back what you put in, and hard work pays off. We all know in this business that running the projects is easy. It’s managing the money that makes you successful.

On the flip side, what is the biggest challenge right now for your business? For us it is probably three things: 1) Managing expectations and having the client realize that this is life and not a 30-minute TV show. 2) Finding qualified help—whether that be an employee or subcontractor. Also, keeping good subcontractors happy and working on your projects. 3) Buying local at a time when everything is at your fingertips and online shopping is at an all-time high. Getting customers to buy from our local vendors and support our local community is important to us.   

Are you hiring, and how are you going about finding the right people for your company?

Yes, we are hiring. In 2014, our local association assisted with creating The Building Institute of Central Kentucky, which serves to further develop skills needed to pursue a career in trade industries. It has continued to grow and serves as a valuable resource for our local contractors. I, along with other local contractors, have been looking to our trade school to hire for qualified help in the field.

What motivates you every day?

A passion for perfection and the goal of turning what is on paper into each client’s dream come true. QR

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