Jeff Titus launched Titus Built in 1995 with a degree in construction engineering and an early career working for a variety of firms, from an architecture firm to heading a national corporation’s real estate and planning division. None of it, he says, truly prepared him for running a business.
“None of that teaches you how to run a company,” he explains with a laugh. “It gets you familiar with the work. You learn what’s involved. But running a business is so, so different.” He says he made a lot of mistakes early on but, “I don’t think I made any big ones because I’m still here. We definitely persevered, and we learned from our mistakes.”
Having worked in construction management before founding his company, he says the attraction was the fact-based, black-and-white nature of construction. “You think of math as a student; math is black or white. It’s either right, or it’s wrong. Construction is like that; there’s different ways to do things, but ultimately, it’s either done right or it’s done wrong, and I gravitated towards that aspect of the business.”
He adds, “What I like about design-build is the communication, the full accountability aspect of it. Communication is simpler. You’re not dealing with three or four different entities. I like that responsibility and, frankly, I think it’s a better value and more efficient for the client.”
Titus joined Remodelers Advantage in 2003, which had a big impact on his career and company. “I was blown away when I came back from my first meeting. The answer to every question I could have is right there with this group,” he says.
He says he left Remodelers Advantage in 2008 during the recession but returned in 2018. “I missed it. I know those concepts, I know the principles, but to be around that energy and to be around the ideas and around the people, there’s no replacement for it. It’s so specific to our industry, and it’s proven to be very valuable to us.”
One of the most important things he’s learned is to never stop learning. “You stop learning, you’re dead,” he says. But more specifically, he’s found that company culture and being clear on a direction for the company are more important than people realize. “In other words: a vision and a mission statement—which can be cliché—but ultimately that’s related to your culture, who you are, what kind of team members you have, what you’re about, and what does all of that mean to you and your team? What does it mean to your clients and the people you’re attracting, or you want to attract?”
For him, the sharing of information with peers is huge. “Mainly in a non-competitive environment, but not always. That’s OK. There’s no benefit to holding back information or not helping somebody else. It elevates you and ultimately can lead to higher success if you’re willing to share information and knowledge and experiences.”
All that rolls into his company’s values: who they are and how they conduct themselves. “Our sense of community is huge.
“Our business slogan is ‘Building clients for life,’ and so that does mean a lot when you have generations of community and family in the area, and you’re putting your name on a business, which to me signifies being fair and delivering exceptional service and value,” he says. “We spend so much time and energy attracting clients to us, good clients, that we want to serve them for the rest of time. That’s our goal.”
With his wealth of experience, Titus says he’s preparing for the slowdown of the remodeling market with the advantage of having navigated multiple waves before in the market.
“I think that if I’m feeling like there may be a downturn, the No. 1 thing I’m looking at as we come into the new year is laying out next year’s budget. The thing about going into a downturn is being conservative. Look at your costs and look at ways to cut your costs because you don’t know if your revenue is going to be coming in or not. Don’t be aggressive on your revenue projections. From there, monitor monthly,” Titus says.
He adds that remodelers shouldn’t just be conservative but also to think more deeply about marketing and fine-tuning messaging that can provide results or give better leads. More networking with past clients is key.
“Never feel like you’re on an island,” Titus notes. “We all have these common questions and common issues and troubles as business owners in this industry. There’s this whole community and all these resources, so don’t feel like you’re on your own and reach out to the guy next door and don’t be afraid to share. It’s amazing what you get back.” QR