Job title: President and COO of Sun Design, Burke, Va.
Year company founded: 1988
Number of team members: 51
Years at company: 20 years
Years in remodeling: 20 years
Industry involvement: Remodelers Advantage, NARI (local metro DC chapter president- two years; board of directors; chair of strategic planning- three years).
Community involvement: The company has lots of involvement in supporting the area arts communities, because that really relates to our business –art and architecture correlate wonderfully. As the father of seven, I do everything from Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, father-son clubs and church involvement.
When and why did you join Remodelers Advantage? What are the benefits of membership? We joined Remodeler’s Advantage through the Round Tables around 2000. I remember going to the first meeting, and I was just blown away by the amount of help and the amount of things that I learned –it was just incredible. I think anyone going into the RA group would need to be okay with and be prepared to hear awesome criticism and grow from that. At this point, we’re in their Mentors Group where there’s amazing feedback, but it’s definitely more specific. The people in our group know us really well, and they tend to be excellent at giving us the type of feedback that we really need.
Where/what are the greatest opportunities in the remodeling market? We do 23 events a year, so it’s a lot of events. Because we have these regular, recurring event things, we just kind of make sure that people know about them, and when they’re ready they can come. Sometimes people come for three, four or five events (and we think they’re just coming for the food); then it turns out that they buy. Doing events has been fantastic. We started doing them when the recession came, and we’ve been doing them ever since. They’re a great source of bringing people around whom we talked to previously and weren’t ready, or new people come in. People just come to say "hi" and it’s face-to-face, which is a whole lot more effective way to go.
How has the remodeler’s job changed in the past few years, for better or worse? Information is more readily available to our clients, and it definitely has put us in a position where we do need to innovate. The way we present ourselves to our clients can really be stepped up. We can use a lot more improved technologies, setting things up for them so all the auditory, kinesthetic and visual people can have ways to pick up what we’re doing with them from a design perspective. I think the down economy just presses everybody to do a better job.
As you were growing up, what did you want to be? For me, it was never really about being a contractor or designer or any of that; it was more about being in the business of working with people and kind of being a creative entrepreneur.
What do you enjoy most about being a remodeler? Why? I enjoy really figuring out how to deeply and profoundly help someone. Whether it’s a client, somebody who works here, a trade person or it’s the people who come in here to clean on Friday, I want to really make sure that I’m in service of them; I want to make sure that I’m going out of my way to make their lives better, if there’s an issue or problem, I really want to understand what that is, define it well and come up with a solution that is just innovative, awesome and makes their life better and mine and everyone's involved.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career? The best advice, cumulative, that I have received is make sure that you are continually growing, continually learning and remain passionate about it all.
What’s an interesting little-known fact about you? When I was in high school and college, everybody, independently (one in college, and then one in college later), called me Elvis. Maybe it’s because of the hair.