greg harris

When and how did you choose this career?

When I was 10, my parents started a design-build remodeling company. From that point on I started learning, working summers and weekends as I grew up. At 18, I knew I didn’t want to do this for a career—it’s hard! Life went through several career phases before returning me to carpentry. At that point I knew I enjoyed it and wanted my own company. The rest is history.

What does being part of NAHB Remodelers mean to you?

The NAHB Remodelers is an outstanding source of inspiration, leadership and guidance in this ever-changing business world.

What keeps you involved in your local chapter?

When my parents were in business, they were involved in the builders’ association. I’ve never questioned the value of being involved. The more I give to the association, the more I get out of it. I’ve served on two local boards, doing two years as president at one and currently vice president at another. Being on the state board for the past 10 years has also been a great influence to our business.

How has the remodeling profession changed?

I think the industry is gaining more respect as a profession. There are always going to be cheap fly-by-night operators, but it seems people understand more than ever the value of the service we provide.

Where are the greatest opportunities in the remodeling market?

As land becomes more scarce, I think more people will update their homes because they like the location. That, in addition to people living longer and staying active, will continue to bolster the remodeling industry.

What is the biggest challenge right now for your business?

The biggest challenge seems to be a lack of young enthusiastic people coming into the trades. We struggle to find people to replace our aging workforce. In an effort to continue producing the work we want to, we are constantly on the lookout for good new trade partners.

What is your focus as a remodeler and for your business?

Focus is always a difficult thing to pinpoint. We had a marketing intern and a salesperson start recently. Marketing is a focus in which I hope the intern can interact with the outside company that does our marketing to help facilitate more efficient transfer of information. This will help me to focus on other aspects of the business that are not as easily delegated. We are also focused on training and bringing our new salesperson up to speed on our systems, values and way of doing business.

Photo courtesy of Greg Harris

Have you seen a change in the average job size and/or types of projects?

Our average job size has been consistently growing by design. We have been targeting larger jobs and declining the small ones. One thing I’ve learned is that the term large or small is very different depending on the location.

Where do you look for solutions and ideas for your business?

The best place to go for advice to business challenges is my NAHB 20 Club! We all experience similar challenges and can offer suggestions on what has worked or not worked in the past. I also have several mentors outside of the building industry that I turn to for advice from time to time.

How do you find the right people to work for your company?

We have been trying several avenues. One recent hire was the result of almost a year of working with a headhunter. Our new marketing intern came from reaching out to the local university. Another somewhat new employee was referred to us from an associate that does work for both our business and the employee’s former employer. They knew how unhappy and unappreciated the employee felt and also knew of the morale and direction of our company.

What is your No. 1 source of leads right now?

While it is not the No. 1 in number, referrals are by far the best most profitable leads we receive. I would much rather send someone a gift card with a thank you note than pay for a cold unqualified lead.

What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?

Revenue kills, profit thrills. When it’s going well, don’t get complacent. Someone or something will soon throw a wrench into your plans soon enough. When, not if, the recession comes, cash is king.

What motivates you every day?

We are blessed to have very many great appreciative clients. Seeing the joy in their eyes is great. I also find satisfaction in providing for and working with all of our employees. This is very much a team effort and watching them grow is rewarding.

Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments?

I think of my career as a tool. It has given me the opportunity to meet many great people and travel to different parts of the world, helping people who have no opportunity to help themselves. QR

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