Right there at the top of Builders & Remodelers, Inc.’s website, in the middle of its logo, sits the simple statement: “Since 1952.” The Twin Cities-based company was founded that year as a siding business, and in the more than 50 years since, it has added windows, doors, roofing, and, more recently, decking to its growing list of capabilities—the entire time specializing in low- or no-maintenance products. It’s all part of a larger effort to stay ahead of the competition through growth and improvement rather than price-slashing, particularly in lean times such as these, when the market contracts.
“Without question, the economy has its challenges, and we have to anticipate that it may stay like this for quite a while,” says president Ken Bressler, who joined the company in 1985, was running it within two years, and purchased it in 1995. “But when the pie becomes smaller, as it has, we just need to get a bigger slice of the pie.”
The company’s latest measure to increase its reach was the expansion of its connected office and warehouse space, which had remained unchanged for 35 years. “We just outgrew both spaces,” Bressler says.
To complete the project, Builders & Remodelers leased a new warehouse that is twice the size of and located about four miles from the original space. It then remodeled the entire first location, including the warehouse, into an expansive office, also giving the facility a fresh new look. “We had some low ceilings, which we thought would get even lower, but then we learned the walls were load-bearing and were holding up the ceiling, not the roof, which forced us to remove the ceiling,” Bressler says. “That ended up being an advantage, opening the space.”
The office remodel also incorporated a new 450-square-foot showroom, which the company had never had before. “It’s not huge, but we designed it efficiently,” Bressler says. According to him, the showroom has two benefits: first, it allows homeowners to come in and see all the company’s full-size products on display, which customers had been saying they wanted; second, the quality of the interior gives customers confidence in the company’s building skills. “I’d estimate that 90 percent of the time someone comes into the showroom, we finish the contract on the spot,” Bressler says.
“90 percent of the time someone comes into the showroom, we finish the contract on the spot.”
Ken Bressler, President
As it settles into its new digs, the company is also working to build better relationships with clients, and to this end, it recently updated its 15-year-old contact-management system, which it uses to stay in touch with leads. “We’re trying to build a relationship business by staying in contact with our customers,” Bressler says. “Every time we go out on an appointment, we describe what happened in the system and enter a date for a next action; the system then alerts us when we need to make another contact with the lead. We also use it to send out e-mails after jobs are complete—that sort of thing.”
Bressler is also helping his company maintain strong partnerships with important suppliers such as Soft-Lite Windows, the company’s main window provider, which currently has the most energy-efficient window on the market—the Elements window, which has a U value of 0.16, handily beating the average window, which has a score of 0.3—and Builders & Remodelers is the exclusive dealer for it in the area because of its standing with Soft-Lite. “Because of the economy, other companies aren’t coming to market with alternative windows, so we have the most energy-efficient window on the market, with no end in sight,” Bressler says. Not one of the company’s customers with Soft-Lite Windows has voiced any concerns or issues despite the extreme subzero temperatures Minnesota experienced this past winter. “It’s just a wonderful company,” Bressler says.
Today, Bressler is teaching his sons the business: Adam, his oldest, is the marketing manager; Jason, his middle son, is a production manager; and Bryan, his youngest, is a sales rep. “They always had an interest in the business,” Bressler says. “Even when they were in high school, over the summers, they worked with the siding crews.”
At the same time, his company is planning its next steps, including a greater push into decking. It got off to a slow start in the sector in 2013, doing just a handful of projects, but it has since hired three new sales people, going from six to nine total reps, and it hopes to see a return on that investment this year. Once again, expansion rules the day.