Not Just Another Pretty Face

Award

We are pleased to announce that STRITE design + remodel has once again been recognized by NARI Idaho as “Remodeler of the Year” in the category of completed projects totaling $1 million or more over the past 12 months. We’re certainly no strangers to this recognition, and you might imagine that receiving this news from our local chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry would be an occasion for high fives, fist bumps, and a few “booyahs.” And you’d be right. After all, as the man said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you done it.”

But aside from the bragging rights that go with the award, which STRITE has won repeatedly since its creation, we are sharing our triumph with you for reasons that are more subtle and, we believe, more important to anyone in the Gem State who might consider embarking on a remodeling project somewhere down the road. These reasons have more to do with the state of our industry and what that means to homeowners. Let’s just put it this way: if you hear us shouting, “We’re number one, baby!”, we are being VERY inclusive.

To begin with, it is significant for our industry in the great State of Idaho that we even have a company in the “over $1 million” category — let alone that there were two other local remodelers besides us in that category in 2014. In 2010, given the economic doldrums we continued to find ourselves in, we were barely able to hit the million dollar mark — and there were no other Idaho companies in that category at all. It’s welcome news to our industry and the clients we serve that our market is once again healthy enough to support the talented and dedicated people who offer some very valuable skills to our community. This return to health was also recently evident in the story we shared a few months back about the continued uptick in the “cost vs. value ratio” — an index that bodes well for homeowners and remodelers alike after years in decline.

Even more important, we see our Remodeler of the Year award as a validation of the work that NARI has done nationwide to raise the standards of our industry. We can make so bold as to say this because the annual NARI awards are not a beauty contest. Earning the designation “remodeler of the year” isn’t based on impressive “before” and “after” pictures, however many we’re willing to offer — it is based on feedback from clients, suppliers, contractors, and vendors. This feedback is generated via questionnaires that are scored to rate not only the quality of work of participating remodelers, but the quality of the experience of working with them. The highest score wins.

Jim Strite -- the remodeler who founded not only the company named after him, but NARI of Idaho as well!

Jim Strite — the remodeler who founded not only the company named after him, but NARI of Idaho as well!

Given the selection criteria, you can appreciate how achieving first place status over the course of more than a million dollars earned from satisfied customers would put a little spring in our step — something I recently confirmed with our founder, Jim Strite, whose comment was, “I’m elated — it shows that our company is continuing to do the kind of work that it was intended to do for the public we serve. It makes us stand out as significant.”

Of course, you would expect the founder of our company to say just that…or words to that effect. What is surprising is that Jim actually went on to say that he’s just as delighted to see other companies besides STRITE receive the same recognition. That sentiment would probably seem hopelessly altruistic if it weren’t for the fact that Jim Strite founded the Idaho chapter of NARI some 25 years ago. As far as Jim is concerned, every Remodeler of the Year award that NARI Idaho hands out is proof that the organization’s mission is thriving.

“Being the founder of our NARI chapter, it’s gratifying to see anyone win,” says Jim. “Our mission has always been to educate remodelers on what it means to run a professional business, and to educate consumers on what it means to hire a professional remodeler. The award is really a recognition of achieving high standards, and if the same company continually won, it wouldn’t say much for our success in proliferating the value of professional business practices.”

Every NARI member is required by the organization to sign a Code of Ethics in which they agree to adhere to good business practices and performance specifications. This is especially significant in a state like Idaho, which does not require contractors to be licensed (they are required to register with the Bureau of Occupational Licensing). As the NARI website explains, “By using a NARI member, you can rest assured that you are working with a remodeling professional who is willing to stake his or her reputation on providing the best of service excellence.” To further its mission, NARI also offers certification programs for critical trades such as lead carpenter.

To Jim, however, the most important contribution that NARI Idaho has made since its founding has been helping remodeling companies “understand their numbers.”

Brad Milspaugh, STRITE's vice president, and a man who knows his numbers.

Brad Milspaugh, STRITE’s vice president, and a man who knows his numbers.

“When people hire a remodeler, they typically think in terms of product, deadline, and cost,” says Jim. “But the real question is how well the remodeler understands the business of remodeling. Most individuals entering the market locally are very talented technicians, with a great amount of technical knowledge, but they haven’t had the exposure to the financial portion of the business. It’s a service business, not a production business — and it doesn’t follow the same pricing models as new construction. Understanding this is ultimately beneficial to the client, since it makes it more likely that the remodeler will be around to do the warranty work and won’t saddle the client with the burden of an unfinished job or unpaid bills. You don’t want to pay the price twice.” You also don’t want a construction lien on your home.

Although retired from STRITE, Jim remains actively involved in NARI Idaho, and will probably teach another “numbers class” this summer through the organization. In the meantime, he’ll savor the success of the company he founded winning the most prestigious award offered by the trade organization he founded.

“I think the industry is definitely improving, and I think this is great. For STRITE, winning this award indicates that our business acuity is there, since our clients were obviously satisfied with not only the product but the process that created it — and NARI Idaho’s success will continue to mean that we are competing against people who similarly understand what it means to be successful in our industry…and that’s good for everyone.”

Of course, when you consider that the criteria for the NARI Remodeler of the Year awards focus on the experience of the homeowner, receiving an award is a testament to the people charged with delivering that experience on a daily basis.  In the case of STRITE, this starts from the top with Bob Mundy, STRITE’s current president, and the the project management team he oversees.  Matt Mundy, Ed Lee, and Bob himself are the faces that greet STRITE’s customers at virtually every step of the remodel project, along with folks like Michael Snow and Caitlin Tucker, whose guiding hands shape the design goals that realize the lifestyle aspirations that drive a remodel to begin with.  And, of course, there is the oversight of office administrator Rita Galbreaith who makes sure that the “i’s” get dotted and the “t’s” get crossed along the way.  The truth is that at STRITE there is no such thing as a job position that doesn’t touch the client, which makes all of our staff the true Remodelers of the Year.