Qualified Remodeler

NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Remodeler Looks to Expand

Steve Wobbema, CGR
Quality Home Repair of LA, LLC
Metairie, La.
Title: Owner/Managing Member
Year Founded: 2004
Number of employees: 1

QR: Who started your company?
SW: Ten months prior to Hurricane Katrina, I started it by purchasing a remodeling firm that had been in business for three years. It was obviously great timing and a good decision.

QR: When did you choose this career?
SW: As a teenager and through college, I worked for my father, uncle and grandfather who owned a bridge construction business in South Dakota. I enjoyed the industry and gained valuable tradesman experience. 

QR: What did you do before remodeling?
SW: Most of my adult life I was in sales of life insurance, office equipment, credit card processing, and real estate.

QR: Where do you go to look for solutions and ideas for your business?
SW: I can find almost everything we need, from estimating information to installation instructions, etc. on the Internet. The best solutions and alternative ideas, however, are usually found by seeking advice from other trusted and experienced remodelers.

QR: What does being part of NAHB Remodelers mean to you?  
SW: It, along with the local and state HBAs, allows me to “give back” to the industry that treats us so well. NAHB employs an amazing group of talented professionals who work hard every day to not only defend our industry, but to help our businesses grow and succeed.

QR: How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?
SW: There are many more governmental regulations being forced upon our business from all levels. As an example, EPA and OSHA fines are so exorbitant they not only force firms to close down, but also discourage newcomers.

QR: Is your focus more growth or steady revenue at greater profitability?
SW: Our focus is to double the size of the company in the next five years. To do so, we are gearing up to offer more new construction and design/build services.

QR: What have you done to grow your business during the current economy?
SW: We’ve never really had to advertise or market our business as we’ve been blessed with a steady flow of leads and inquiries. To progress toward our growth goal, we’ll be enhancing our online presence with an updated website that’s mobile friendly, incorporating an email marketing plan and boosting our social media exposure.

QR: Who would you like to have a 30-minute conversation with for business ideas?
SW: Randy Noel, NAHB’s Second Vice Chairman of the Board. He’s an excellent long-term home builder whose contributions to our industry have benefitted all of us.

QR: What is your average job size?
SW: Our average job size increased by 23 percent in 2015. We’ll often take on small projects that customers, especially the elderly, struggle to find help for, but we prefer full bath, kitchen and/or whole house renovations.

QR: What is the most unusual project your company has completed? 
SW: We hired a professional mold remediation firm to treat and remove mold from a 50-ft.-high ceiling in a church sanctuary. It required several layers of custom built scaffolding — the bottom of which was raised high enough to not interfere with the pews when moved and with wheel locations that were aligned with the aisles to allow movement from the front to the back of the sanctuary.

QR: What is your No. 1 source of leads right now, and why is it working?
SW: Referrals from existing clients, inspectors and engineers comprise the majority of new leads. The strength of this type of referral leads to immediate credibility with prospects, as often we are the only remodeler under consideration. Internet searches are a close second.

QR: Are you hiring this year? How are you finding the right people for your company?
SW: Our goal is to hire another lead carpenter and a project manager in the next few months. We utilize Craigslist, but word-of-mouth among our subcontractors, vendors and fellow HBA members has proven effective, too.

QR: What is the best advice you’ve received in your career? 
SW: To not let the things we do not control create stress in our life. 

QR: What motivates you every day?
SW: I get a great deal of satisfaction seeing daily jobsite progress and constantly solving the challenges of each unique remodeling project. Upon completion, there is nothing more gratifying and motivating than a satisfied customer.

QR: What is your favorite item in your office?
SW: My wire incline filing rack full of estimates in progress.

QR: Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments?
SW: We were awarded the 2015 Remodeler of the Year by the Louisiana Home Builders Association. We won second place in the 2015 Louisiana Remodelers for Excellence Kitchen Award Category. We qualified for the 2015 Best of Houzz Award for Customer Service based on submitted testimonials.

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