NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Pursuit of Happiness
authors Kyle Clapham | October 14, 2020
When and how did you choose a career in remodeling?
From a young age, I enjoyed working with tools and was able to work with my family on weekends doing plumbing, painting and miscellaneous repairs. One of the biggest catalysts in my life was attending a vocational school for building and remodeling (Auburn Career Center). As students, we were lucky to be able to fully gut a home and renovate it as juniors, and we built a home from the foundation up as seniors in high school.
What does NAHB Remodelers mean to you?
Mark Maltry (JEMM co-owner) and I enjoy being a part of a national peer group because since we started our company, we found that the comradery of other professionals was an integral part of our survival. Our company is a design-build firm for not only remodeling but custom new homes as well, so the information that NAHB gives us as business owners is invaluable. We are blessed with the ability to be a part of the NAHB 20 Club and Member Forum, which is worth its weight in gold.
What keeps you involved in your local chapter?
JEMM Construction always strives to do better for our client and our industry, so it is a natural fit to be involved. We have a great comradery with our local group of industry professionals, which have created relationships that are a win-win for us.
How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?
Remodeling has changed with how we design and plan projects, given the easy access to social media and apps that give us ideas for days. Also, most professional companies should be using some form of construction management software; at JEMM Construction, we use Buildertrend. By using Buildertrend we have made it easier for the client, and it functions for our entire business from the initial lead tracking and purchase orders all the way through warranty.
Where are the greatest opportunities in the remodeling market?
The greatest opportunity for remodeling in our current market stems from the lack of available homes for sale, as well as the fact that COVID-19 forced many people to be in the home more than ever. This has led homeowners to want to improve instead of move.
What is the biggest challenge right now for your business?
2020 started as what was to be a stellar year, but then COVID-19 set in and derailed some projects by halting and losing the contracts altogether. We have made it through the few really touchy months by moving to video conference meetings, and we now have a full plate of projects and leads that continue to pour in. But we are still wrestling with the ebb and flow of product availability. This has been the latest, most-challenging issue we are having currently, creating extended project timelines and pricing uncertainty with costs of lumber.
What is your focus as a remodeler/for your business?
A mainstay focus for JEMM Construction is customer satisfaction as well as employee engagement. We have found it challenging this year due to the restrictions placed, but we continue to focus on those two main points because we know that long-term business is mainly reliant on those two factors.
Have you seen a change in the average job size and/or types of projects?
We have seen larger-scale projects become our normal, and I think it can be attributed to lack of shovel-ready land, high prices for resale homes, and people finding out that if they are going to work from home, they may as well enjoy it.
How do you find the right people for your company?
Qualified labor has become an issue for many reasons that stem from past years of the housing crash that displaced tradesmen and deterred tradesmen from the industry. I have seen more young adults considering construction jobs, and the schooling and training has been vibrant.
What is your No. 1 source of leads?
Our referrals from past clients, job signage and social media presence have really been our main sources of lead generation.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
“Building and remodeling is a customer service business, not a construction business.” We use this mantra with our employees, so we keep our clients’ happiness top of mind.
What motivates you every day?
My daily motivation is easy since I truly love the construction industry. I always say it is one industry that you get to physically alter the way the world looks and enjoy it. QR