In 2011, I officially formed Probuilt Woodworking LLC. To that point, my experience growing up in the trades and already having plenty of experience in not only working for, but growing up in, our family Stair and Millwork company. I had a vision to build the “best” finish carpentry and custom woodworking company out there, we would be something different. I knew as long as I could keep work steady, the passion and love I have for my craft would shine and people would take notice. While this goal or motivation I have still hasn’t changed, there was a lot I never and couldn’t have ever considered. I didn’t realize all the long work days I would eventually encounter, sacrifices, taxes, capital needed to maintain good cash flow, oh yeah, and employees (at this point I still thought I could do it all). Nope, never thought about any of it and with our first child (of three) due early in 2012, fatherhood would bring a whole new meaning to life and work.
In October 2012, I started this blog with a very simple purpose, I wanted to give my customers, potential customers, friends, family and other tradesmen an inside look at not only our projects, but how much love I have for what I do. I thought it was a way for a potential customer to view the way we work and think throughout a project and give them a chance to experience the process. It was a platform for me to talk about jobs, techniques and I guess share what I thought might be interesting. Most importantly, I thought I could fill a void in the craft of finish carpentry that I wasn’t seeing anyone else do with maybe the exception of Gary Katz and the thisiscarpentry.com website.
Growing up in a successful family business, one that was built on the foundation of treating your customers right, hard work, long hours and dedication, I already had a great roadmap for what I would need to do if I was going to grow and achieve this kind of success. However, what I also noticed was that I was going to have to do it completely different. With a deflated workforce and a slowly rebounding economy, I knew I would have to brand and market my business differently than my father did or didn’t. Before I had an employee I already had a business name, a logo, shirts and a a vinyl decal on my truck. Every time I would pull up to a new project, the builders, tradesman and customers thought I was a small part of something bigger. Much like the Wizard in the classic movie “The Wizard of OZ” I wore all the hats in the business, like the wizard behind the curtain. I was the guy who handled the books, walked through the projects, designed the projects, built the projects and even sent the invoices. In that first year or two, what I got most when I pulled up to a job site was the veteran tradesmen who much like the economy, took a beating and was just plain defeated, bragging to me how in 30 years they never had a logo on the truck, never had company shirts and never spent one penny on advertising either. I didn’t have the heart to tell these guys that it was probably the reason why I never heard of them or their company. Oh, and to tell them they could advertise for free on social media and a few other platforms, I figured that would be impossible to do being that they also thought smart phones and computers, like advertising, really served no purpose. The real kicker was I also didn’t want to tell them that it’s not really about getting new customers, my passion for my craft and my business was my driving force and if someone stumbled on one of our pages and wants to do business with us, than great! Lets be honest though, in our company’s niche market, most our customers don’t build multi-million dollar homes and find there trades on social media. Overall, I knew this “experienced” advice they were giving me really didn’t mean much cause I knew I wanted/still want to be something different. I didnt want to be who “those” guys were and still are.
Before the birth of the blog, in 2011 I came across an app on my iPhone called Instagram. Little did I know in the coming few years this app would not only change the way I share my work but in 2016, help me build a better business by connecting with other amazing individuals and passionate tradesman who otherwise I would have probably never met or heard about. Around those early years in 2012, I would start our company Facebook page, website and houzz.com accounts. While all these platforms have been great, Our Instagram account has allowed me to give a view into the business and projects that this very blog was intended to do. Through video or a simple photo, our followers whether homeowners,tradesman, past customers, new customers, literally anyone can view our projects in real-time without me having to spend hours uploading photos and drafting blog posts. However, with our social media followers growing, I am starting to get a lot of questions on technique, tools and insight that I was hoping to address and help other finish carpenters answer back in 2012 with the start of this blog. While these platforms have been great, the blog is a place I can share plenty of information without bogging down our other non-trade related followers, family and friends feed.
While we still push everyday to grow better as a company and craftsmen, I feel like in the past 5 years this very blog has come full circle. This was something I started in hoping people would find it helpful or inspiring, and now in 2016, I have people asking daily to share more details about our projects, techniques and business in general. I just hope those grumpy worn out veteran tradesman are following us or at least figured out how to turn on there iPhone, cause this is the new way of referrals, this is the new way of doing business. 🙂