Self Taught MBA: Going to Where the Going is Good, Part 1 - Fine Homebuilding

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Building Business

Building Business


Self Taught MBA: Going to Where the Going is Good, Part 1

comments (3) August 28th, 2012 in Blogs
FPR Fernando Pages Ruiz, contributor


Located on Ogallalas historic, retail street, Nebraskas Home Improvement Center offers rural customers an attractive showroom and design center that makes Jims business stand heads up above the local competition. 

Still under construction when I visited, Jim is building a home with a warehouse in back on a small (by local standards) acreage a few minutes from his shop. The super-insulated structure will serve as a showpiece for Jims other business passion, energy efficiency. 

Located on Ogallalas historic, retail street, Nebraskas Home Improvement Center offers rural customers an attractive showroom and design center that makes Jims business stand heads up above the local competition. 
Click To Enlarge

Located on Ogallala's historic, retail street, Nebraska's Home Improvement Center offers rural customers an attractive showroom and design center that makes Jim's business stand heads up above the local competition. 


Although one thing kept nagging at him, the word "Nebraska" in his company name implied a statewide presence. In fact, the company received a steady stream of calls from far off rural areas; calls that Jim's sales crew would regularly turn away. Jim had sought to find local contractors to recommend, believing no customer should be turned away without at least a solid referral, but he hadn't found anyone he could vouch for.

One day, not long ago, Jim picked up the office phone and on the other end was a homeowner calling from Western Nebraska, hoping to get a quote on a very little job, five replacement windows. "I'm not sure why, but I decided to bid the job," said Jim, explaining why he believed God was shepherding him toward new pastures-or prairies. The sales crew laughed, and wished him luck on the five hour drive to bid five windows. But Jim jumped in his truck, sold the job, and then ran the installation, and sold another job, and then another.

"We've sold over $500,000 in our first three months here, and we're on target to exceed $2-million this year," Jim told me, and I could hear hammers and saws wailing in the background. He sounded excited. It was clear Jim had discovered-or been led to-a gold mine. But his experience is not unique.

"This is our new business model," Jim went on to explain, although the town of Ogallala has a population of less than one-fiftieth of Lincoln, Jim's home base, the actual trade area Jim figures within a 100 mile radius of Ogallala serves nearly 600,000 potential customers. Because of its rural location and small local population, the construction community has remained informal and without the professional management systems Jim developed during his 16-year career in a highly competitive urban area. The sophisticated marketing and customer service systems Jim developed in Lincoln have become the cornerstones of his philosophy for small town success, "We are the most expensive contractor in the area, but we provide a lifetime, transferable warranty on our labor, we source the very best products available, and we try to respond to all our customer's needs, including warranty repairs, within 48 hours," Jim told me.

With this winning formula, Jim hopes to open seven home-improvement centers, all in towns of 5,000 or less, offering high-level customer service within geographic areas unaccustomed to contractors that return calls, complete jobs, and provide reliable warranties.

And I should put a period on this story now, but I have to digress: One of Jim's passions plays especially well in underserved areas, and that's green building, something I've talked about often because it keeps proving itself as viable strategy. "We have an in-house Energy Star rater, so we can not only do the job, but help folks get the certifications needed for utility and tax incentives," explains Jim. As we were about to hang up, Jim spoke briefly about his new shop in downtown Ogallala, a historic building he's rehabbing into a showroom, and the super-high-efficiency residence and warehouse he's building a few miles south. "So, apart from the good business you've established, do you like it in Ogallala?" I asked. "I love it here," he answered. 

 



posted in: Blogs, business

Comments (3)

Edward1234 Edward1234 writes: Thanks you for posting this. You might be interested in checking out fine luxury homes by Brejnik Fine Homes (www.brejnik.ca). 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: 4:54 am on May 15th

DavidGerstel DavidGerstel writes: I'm going to stay put, but even so that story about Jim was just plain good reading. -- David Gerstel --
Posted: 11:56 pm on September 28th

DancingDan DancingDan writes: Great piece, Fernando. There are always underserved markets - not always easy to see them. Nor do we always feel like doing it, but that's the opportunity - figure out how to do the things other people (either your clients or your competitors) don't want to.
Posted: 4:57 pm on September 7th

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