NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Scope and Depth

Ralph Pagnucco embraces the need to be business savvy and understand the codes and regulations that change each year.

authors Kyle Clapham | October 10, 2019

When and how did you choose this career? I worked my way through college doing handyman jobs, and then I got my first builder’s license in Michigan.

What does NAHB Remodelers mean to you? It is our professional association for those who participate in the trades. It lets clients know we are serious about what we do and the industry that we represent.

Why did you become a member of your local chapter? NAHB Remodelers works on our behalf nationwide. Individually, we can’t address all of the issues that we face daily in trying to ply our business, and NAHB Remodelers does that for us. I stay involved because things change daily, and constant education along with peer interaction helps to keep me sharp; and that platform is provided by our local HBA.

How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved? When I started out in the ’70s, you only had to be a good tradesman—skilled in the desired field of your trade. Now you need to be business savvy and understand all of the codes and regulations that change and increase every year.

Where and what are the greatest opportunities in the remodeling market? We have positioned ourselves to help our clients redesign and remodel their kitchens and bathrooms. Even homes that were built in the ’90s were using outdated concepts and designs, so giving people the best that’s out there today makes a huge difference in their lifestyle and the comfort of their homes.

What is the biggest challenge right now for your business? The biggest challenge we face is common to most in the business: the lack of qualified workers to fill the void. We strive to offer not only the best quality of materials available to do the job, but to have employees that have the knowledge and the skill sets to properly install and finish the work with a high degree of craftsmanship. Being a small, family-run company, the loss of one employee can have a great impact on us; but we won’t compromise, and sometimes it takes a month or longer to find just the right person.


What is your focus as a remodeler and/or for your business? There are two things I am concentrating on. First and foremost, I am working with our website designer to increase our presence in our local market. We purchase our cabinets directly from the manufacturers and pass the savings on to our clients, which is a huge savings. These are high-quality cabinets with all of the upgraded hardware available today, so getting that word out is important. The second thing that is of great importance is taking care of our employees. Today, the risk of identity theft is rising very quickly, and most people are oblivious to this. As a small company, we need to play in the big arena of getting and keeping the most skilled people out there, and part of that is what you offer them. I have taken the steps to cover my employees with a product called IDSeal that covers all aspects of their personal identity, from SS number to media accounts and everything in between. Identity theft can cause massive disruption in one’s life, and I want my employees to be safe from this type of disruption. I would recommend this product to all business owners—show them you care!

Have you seen a change in the average job size and/or types of projects? It used to be a bath or kitchen remodel. Now it seems we are doing more whole-home remodels and putting on additions to existing homes to enlarge those areas. The scope and depth of our projects has certainly grown over the last few years as the economy has picked up. Larger projects, more detail and upgraded products seem to be more the norm today.

Are you hiring this year, and how are you finding the right people? Yes, we are hiring, and I am always on the lookout for qualified candidates. If I can’t use someone I find, I usually know someone who does and will refer them—networking at its best. We have had the most luck using Indeed to obtain quality candidates, so we usually start there.

What is the best advice you’ve received in your career? Keep helping people get what they want, and you won’t have to worry about the future. I believe Zig Ziglar said that.

Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments? Originally, I started my business in lower Michigan, moved it to the Upper Peninsula for about 10 years, then reopened back here in Lakeland, Florida, in 2016 after leaving Ft. Myers in 1998. QR

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