NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Randy Friga
Friga Construction, Springfield, Mo.
Title: President and General Manager
Year Founded: 1974
Number of Employees: 10
Who started your company? My father, Ralph, started the company in 1974, and I took over in January of 1985.
When and how did you choose this career? My dad put me on a roof at the tender age of 8. I grew up in construction all my life, but I became a Springfield policeman. I’d wanted to be a police officer, that’s what my college degree is in, but I decided I had too much sawdust in my blood. I kind of lost interest in being on the force, so I told my dad if he moved to Springfield I would leave the police department. So in 1985, he moved out here and we started Friga, Inc. at that time.
How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved? I think the biggest thing is the variety of equipment that improves the quality of the projects. We’ve become very reliant on equipment and materials to do projects. The biggest thing about that is that you’re able to offer the clients more diversity than we ever had whenever I was growing up. Now, we’re able to offer so much more diversity and, consequently, sometimes more economically than we could have whenever I was starting and having to do everything by hand.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career? Be yourself and always tell the truth so you never have to remember what you said.
What have you done to grow your business during the current economy? Our focus has been stronger in the residential market because there were so few contractors left at the end of the recession. There was an opening for a quality contractor who had equipment, manpower, all the insurances and everything already in place. I had been through other big dips, and I always saw after the big drops that anybody who was still standing would be at the forefront whenever it started back up. So we positioned ourselves to be at that place whenever the recession started the upturn.
What does being part of NAHB mean to you? Being part of NAHB has given me more of the standard and the clients’ respect; people that belong to organizations that have a recognition. It has probably closed several projects just because of my affiliation.
What motivates you every day? I like challenge, and I like working with my family. Both of my sons and daughter work for me and of course I took it over from my father, so I like working with my family. I also like the challenge of meeting clients, meeting their needs and making suggestions that either save them money or get their projects done in a way that they, frequently, don’t even realize was possible.
What is the most unusual project your company has completed? We’ve done several historical renovations, like the Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site (the son of Daniel Boone) in Ash Grove. We did the guard tower at the center of a level five prison with inmates. We bid it to the state of Missouri, and I had very little competition as nobody really wanted to work there. We also built the only triangle shaped building in Springfield. That was probably the most complex job we’ve ever done. It was an architect's design and a new building from the ground up.
What is your favorite item in your office? My Confederate Civil War newspaper. It has runaway slave ads, talks about the battles that are going on that day and it’s from Richmond, Virginia. I’m a Civil War nut, so I’ve got Civil War all the way around my room. I’ve traveled across the United States and when I find stuff that’s Civil War related I usually get it. I was a Civil War reenactor for like five years, six years.
Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments? I started volunteering and working with a group in Haiti in 2006. I built three schools, two clinics, two houses, did water well repair, installed inverter systems and a wind-powered generator, and other miscellaneous stuff. I remodeled a guest house that we had down in Jacmel. I was there four days after the earthquake in 2010, and I escorted other medical teams in. I’d have to look at my passport and count how many times I’ve been to Haiti; it’s probably at least 60 trips. Now, I’m doing things on my own; my goal is to develop it into working with non-governmental organizations that are looking for a contractor. I’m an American company and it’s just me going down there. I have my own tools there, I shipped my own truck there, and I have a house that I rent that serves as my base of operation. Right now, it’s out of my pocket, but I do have some people that whenever we go they help with some of my expenses, but I try to go down and be as frugal as I can.