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Building Business

Building Business

Find Your Niche and Own It

comments (8) July 31st, 2012 in Blogs
FPR Fernando Pages Ruiz, contributor

 Flags of every country: My niche was affordable housing for immigrants. AT Liberty Village we had such varied homeowner clientele that we gave every buyer two flags, the Stars and Stripes, and the flag of their nation of birth. 
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 Flags of every country: My niche was affordable housing for immigrants. AT Liberty Village we had such varied homeowner clientele that we gave every buyer two flags, the Stars and Stripes, and the flag of their nation of birth. 


I started my first remodeling company fresh out of high school. A buddy and I teamed up under the banner "Hammer, Spade, and Brush." We wanted to cast a big enough net to land any available job, whether carpentry, landscaping, or painting. We also added the familiar tag, "No job too big or small." And that's how a lot construction companies still operate: We'll take whatever we can get. It worked. The little business actually grew and paid the bills-to a point. Twenty years and several incarnations later, I was building my very first spec homes in Los Angeles, California.

Because I had no capital, the homes I built were small and inexpensive. I watched every penny, negotiated every transaction, and made a profit. But always with a little envy for the other contractors I watched grow right past me and onto high profile, million dollar projects. Eventually a severe downturn rolled through recession-proof California, and every one of those builders fell like bowling pins. I made no money that fateful 1989, but my houses sold-I had about twenty by then, I paid off the banks and moved onto doing other work. It was then I realized that I had unwittingly chanced upon a business plan, one I would later write a book about-building affordable homes.

But I still wanted to try my hand at bigger and better things, and twice the opportunity came for ambitious projects, million dollar condos and golf course homes, and each time with humiliating results. For whatever reason, I am very good at building affordable homes, unlucky at the higher end. Maybe it's the Peter Principle kicking in, or maybe just bad timing, but I have learned that I have specific, albeit peculiar areas of competence. For example, I have worked successfully building very affordable spec homes in the inner city, in those neighborhoods many won't even drive through during daytime, as well as architecturally appropriate homes for immigrant communities ranging from Mexican expatriates, to Sudanese, and Vietnamese buyers. Weird talents, yes, but certainly niche markets that I owned.    

I may be biased by my experience, but I believe each of has a niche, and once found, it's wise to stray only short distances away from it, with very good reason and with great care. I know this from my mistakes.  

Of course, not every niche woks well all the time, and flexibility is also a valuable tool for survival. But I thought it would be useful in these next few posts to explore niches working well in today's economy. You've heard me plug green building, and that's only because my repeated exposure to successful green builders has convinced me this has become a viable niche in some markets right now. But this is not the only strategy. Other niches I've seen working well today include small apartment building construction (subject of my next post), manufactured housing rehab (don't laugh), replacement contracting (siding, windows and roofs), adaptive reuse (like turning old schools into apartments), and well groomed handyman services.

I would love to know what niche is working for you and in your marketplace.


Read more articles from the Building Business blog.

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Comments (8)

Oridgemeree Oridgemeree writes: これは多くの場合、単一の支払いにあなたの残高のすべてを置く統合計画によって実現されます。明らかに、この方法の目的は、金融の安定を維持し、破綻などの有害なオプションを回避することである。

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比較するウェブとコントラストサービスレンダリングと通常の手数料や金利、これらの企業の担当を介してアクセスすることができます承認カウンセラーのリストがあります。 (アドバイスの最後のビット:彼らは健全であるとの結果が生成されますことを確認するために提案されたカウンセリング戦略を評価することを確認してください)

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Posted: 3:00 am on December 7th

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Posted: 9:38 am on December 6th

Oridgemeree Oridgemeree writes: インターネットのホームビジネスを構築する際に情報過多は共通の問題です。あなたは定職週40時間働き、毎日の世話をする家族がいる場合は特に。あなたはどこから始めて把握するためにあなたが残っている限られた時間では、それは難しいかもしれません。

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Posted: 7:49 am on December 6th

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Posted: 8:40 pm on December 5th

Edward1234 Edward1234 writes: Great Article. Thank you for posting this. You might be interested in checking out fine luxury homes by Brejnik Fine Homes( They build fine luxury houses. Brejnik team consists of qualified and trusted: Architects, Interior Designers, Appraisers / Lenders, Trades & Suppliers, Geo-technical engineers, Structural Engineers, Arborists, Landscape Architects, Pool & Water Feature.
Posted: 5:04 am on May 15th

TheTimberTailor TheTimberTailor writes: Fernando,
Interesting topic to ponder.
Regardless of the type of work, I find the best niche is excellent customer service. Keeping clients informed and happy maintains a steady flow of work for my business while not restricting the type of work I do. From custom design, millwork, stairs and framing its nice to have a variety of work to keep it interesting while confined to a narrow niche of satisfied clients.
Looking forward to future segments on this topic.
Posted: 11:27 pm on August 5th

ShelterNerd ShelterNerd writes: I turned work down again just yesterday. I want to be known for doing the type of work I love to do and that I do well. No point in getting a reputation for being good at work you don't enjoy doing or cant seem to make a profit at.

Which means when you are busy building you had better be busy selling the next job or you'll get to the end of the busy spell and have to take what ever work you can get.
Posted: 12:28 am on August 5th

jfaulk jfaulk writes: Thanks for sharing your story, Fernando. I just recently retired from the Postal Service and after a short stint in retail, I am now doing what I like best: handyman jobs (hopefully well groomed).

Like you I needed to find my niche and even if it means I'm not movin up to the east side, It's work I enjoy

Thanks again for your encouragement and not giving up on your ideals.
Posted: 1:17 pm on August 4th

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