NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Lasting Impact
Newday Development, Inc.
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Year Founded: 1978
Number of Employees: 10 full-time, 2 part-time
QR: Who started your company?
LK: Newday Development was founded by my father as a subsidiary to the original family business, TYM Construction & Development, Inc., and I took it as my sole entity in 1989 after his passing. In mid-1995, I incorporated the business and, in 2007, added the dba Newday Construction.
QR: When and how did you choose this career?
LK: I have worked in this industry since I was 10-years-old, under the tutelage of my father and his associates.
QR: How does it feel to be a third-generation general contractor?
LK: I am very proud to be carrying on what my grandfather and father gave their lives to. They set forth a legacy and standard that has been hard to maintain, but also a joy to see continue. The goals and quality standards they set are, in my professional opinion, higher than 98 percent of the companies out there today. We care about our workmanship and our clients. It is not about the money, but rather the final quality of the product and the joy and satisfaction it brings to our clients.
QR: What motivates you every day?
LK: I consider myself an artist, and the joy of what we produce last years, decades. What a great testament to three generations of construction. I have been to projects my late grandfather built in the early 1900s, and they look great. They set the benchmark for me to follow.
QR: What is your favorite item in your office?
LK: My awards and my TV. The TV is always on either the news or on a learning channel. We have to do what we can to stay on top of things, and things move very quickly.
QR: How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?
LK: Our industry has changed and is currently changing on what we feel is a daily basis. Trends change, building codes change and customers change. We have to stay on top of what is happening not only in our community and state, but across the country as it may have an effect on us here. It is a constant learning curve.
QR: What is your No. 1 source of leads right now?
LK: We are a long-standing company—over 100 years in business for the family. Our main source of work comes from referrals and architects, engineers and designers. Advertising is great for a sub-trade contractor, but general contractors need a more viable source. When someone sees an ad that you have, they are, for the most part, just shopping for the best price and most of the time they have no plans to cost out from.
QR: What are the greatest opportunities in the remodeling market?
LK: The greatest opportunities and for the future are for those who can adjust to changes in the conditions of our customers and industry. By that I mean, learn as you go each day; expect the unexpected. It is no longer the survival of the fittest, but rather who is more knowledgeable—who follows the book to the letter. No matter what anyone tells you we are still a paper industry. I do a lot of expert witness work, and the No. 1 issue is contractors who do not provide paper to their clients. The No. 2 issue is workmanship. Most contractors do not care about their work; it is only about money.
QR: Right now, what is your focus as a remodeler?
LK: My main focus is, as it has always been, making our clients happy. This is job one. My second focus is educating the public. The public needs to understand that yes, money is a concern but so is the quality of the product. If the client does not have the funds to perform at the highest level, then they should either hold off on the project for now, reduce the scope and size of the project, or find additional funds. Most projects today go down the wrong path with the wrong contractor.
QR: Are you hiring this year, and how are you going about finding the right people for your company?
LK: This is the prime topic over the past nine years within our industry. Finding qualified labor is almost impossible, and when you do find them they are a premium. In some cases, they can make more than the owner of the company on a weekly basis. But, if they produce for you, you can make money at the end of the project. We have no source (true source) of qualified labor access. We go through about three test labor personnel every month. And out of them, two will never get past the phone interview. This is physical labor—no matter how good your office is if the physical end of things is not good, you fail.
QR: What have you done to grow your business during the current economy?
LK: The economy is changing every week, let alone every year. We have and are looking at cost savings from within to grow. The one thing that will never change is “Quality First” for our clients. We have developed as times have changed into a company with a positive reputation. Picking better clients is now the main focus. It is the overall project and client rather than the cost of the project these days. Today, more than ever, no one can afford a legal battle.
QR: Many remodelers are reporting increases in their average job size. Are you seeing this as well?
LK: We are known for high-quality work, and our projects grow once we have started. Our clients see the workmanship and then decide to increase the scope of the project. But currently, we are seeing larger projects as a whole.
QR: What is the most unusual project your company has completed?
LK: They are all unusual in their own way, but I would have to say it is always the historical restoration. We do a lot of work in that field and are known for our knowledge and expertise in the restoration of these beautiful homes. I, for one, love working on them and returning them to their pride. People do not build like that anymore, and finding the trades who can work on them is a specialty.
QR: What does being part of NAHB Remodelers mean to you?
LK: Being a part of the NAHB is a must. Taking a role as a member and consultant on issues that affect our industry across the county is valuable. Speaking out to others in our industry and expressing a professional opinion makes what we do special every day. The NAHB takes pride in what they do, and they assist us in taking pride in what we do.
QR: Where do you go to look for solutions and ideas for your business?
LK: Because of our long-standing position in our industry, we have turned to my late family’s associates over the years. But nowadays we are the go-to source too, as most of them have passed on. I am now the old timer at 66-years-old. A lot of contractors call us up to get advice on how to proceed and what to look for across the country due to our reputation and knowledge.
QR: You have undertaken several roles in Los Angeles and its building community over the years. What can you share about current efforts you are involved in?
LK: My main focus over the past five years has been involvement with RE:CODE LA/ The Los Angeles Zoning Advisory Council. The council was appointed to advise the planning department and assist in bringing current codes up-to-date as required by the state. The goal is to simplify accessing the codes and better understand them for the general public’s use. Other cities have jumped on this, and have reached out to me to assist them as a sounding board and help them get their programs up to speed. Los Angeles is on the right track now, and the future is brighter because of the assistance of those on the council.
QR: If you could have a 30-minute conversation with any business leader in the country, who would it be?
LK: Eli Broad! I am more fortunate than most to have the pleasure of knowing Eli Broad my entire life and have turned to him on several occasions when I hit a wall. He has kept me out of many bad situations, and I owe him more than anyone could ever imagine. If I had to pick another person, Richard Hoefflin. Mr. Hoefflin is a great attorney and, in our industry, we all need an attorney to look out for us. His background not only covers construction but business matters, and that is very important when you are in business for yourself. Knowledge of contract law is what is lacking today within our industry.
QR: What is the best advice you’ve received?
LK: The best advice I received was from my late father and his cousin Phil, and from my military training. My late father and his cousin used to say to me, “Show me a project that not only benefits you but the community over 10 years after completion, and I will support you.” My military training had a saying: “The only easy day was yesterday.” |QR
Apply to be a future NAHB Remodeler of the Month by visiting nahb.org/rom. (Note you must be a NAHB Remodelers member.)