Year Founded: March 1993
Number of Employees: Two (2)
Who started your company? Me, John Guillory
When and how did you choose this career?
I chose my design career at a very early age – 6 or 7. My father owned a design firm and I chose this career by his example and instruction. The education he provided has been the most valuable and precious gift of my professional career.
What did you do before becoming a remodeler?
I have always been involved in residential design. I started as an apprentice draftsman in April 1974 and, for the first eight years of my career, learned my craft both “in office” and on company sponsored “build projects.” These “build projects” involved me in “hands on” construction (usually day laborer work), under the direction of Master Craftsmen across the building trades (another valuable and precious gift).
How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?
Remodeling has transformed from adding a room for the arrival of an unexpected baby (reactive / must-have remodeling) to renovations that enhance homeowners’ lives and property investments (proactive / finely crafted).
Right now, what is your focus as a remodeler — more growth or steady revenue at greater profitability? Please explain.
My focus is to maintain a pace that allows time for thoughtful and meaningful design solutions. Growth has been “throttled back” to invest more time on these client-specific solutions. This approach has led us to greater profitability.
Many remodelers are reporting increases in their average job size in 2015, are you seeing this as well?
Our average job size is shrinking, but the quality of materials and amenities is rising. Recently, we have partnered with Interior Designers and Remodeling Contractors in an effort to provide a “Team” approach. This has allowed us to condense project size and focus our client’s resources to maximum effect.
Where do you go to look for solutions and ideas for your business?
Our local Remodeler’s Council (Remodeler’s Council of Greater Baton Rouge) meets monthly to share ideas, questions, and solutions to difficult problems, which is very helpful and informative. Each Friday afternoon, Custom Home Designs has a “Mastermind” meeting with a select group of colleagues from the building industry these meetings run the gamut from design and planning to timely completion of punch list items. Houzz.com has revolutionized our industry by allowing our clients to succinctly express their desires. Houzz gives designers an opportunity to see what new, creative solutions are being used and developed by others.
If you could have a 30-minute conversation with any business leader in the country — to pick their brain for business ideas, who would it be?
I would enjoy a chat with Scott Sevon (MAW Chicago) to discuss the logistics of high-rise remodeling and the challenges it entails. I am completely unaware (and curious) as to how this work gets done, especially how neighboring property owner relations are handled.
Finding qualified labor is a challenge — are you hiring this year and how are you going about finding the right people for your company?
We are not hiring, but Custom Home Designs is involved with several young Architects and Designers in the Baton Rouge area in a mentoring program. The education that was given to me by my many mentors is now being passed forward. It is a great joy to see these young men and women maturing into the right people for any company.
What is your No. 1 source of leads right now and why is it working?
Word of mouth has always been our No. 1 source of leads. Re-designing and updating spaces we designed twenty years ago is not uncommon and a testimony to great client relations.
What is the most unusual project your company has completed?
Sketching, photographing, numbering, systematically disassembling and moving of a historic home forty-five miles away from Baton Rouge, redesigning the interior functions of the home, and reassembling the updated version on a very tight site in Baton Rouge.
What is your favorite item in your office?
A piece of driftwood collected with my son on a canoe trip many years ago.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
Never be idle.
What does being part of NAHB mean to you?
The people I have met within the NAHB, regardless of position or personal status (i.e. total strangers) have reached out to welcome and help me. Having access to such a knowledgeable group of building professionals is a terrific resource during times when help is needed. At a national level, my small business has access to the NAHB’s resources which are second to none.
What have you done to grow your business during the current economy?
Strive to do better and better work. Listening to a client’s requests and shaping a finely crafted solution (no matter how strange it may seem) is a noticeable “calling card” for all those who see or visit the space. Satisfied clients work in any economy.
What motivates you every day?
The simple joy of doing what I love to do.
Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments?
I have been blessed with a career full of great mentors, experiences, and clients. The gifts given freely to me are to be passed on to the next generation of craftsmen and I ask God for the chance to do just that.