2016 In Review

Just like that, another year is in the books and we are already almost through January of 2017. This past year has been the best year to date for the company on many different accounts. While there are many metrics to base this hypothesis off of I think the biggest thing we have acheived is figuring out exactly who we want to be as a company, a brand and most importantly as people. As I usually do this time a year, sit and reflect on the past year, I am very proud of all we have accomplished as a company.

It’s hard to believe that this time last year in January we started doing framing prep and blocking for what would become our larget project to date as a company, the Orchard Ridge project. More on this project later in this post. This prep work that would ultimately make for a more efficient install when we would start our trim package install in March.


Throughout the month we would also start and complete a few other great projects. One of which was a complete theater room renovation for the GM of a local professional sports team here in Detroit, as well as a full trim and stair remod for a great repeat client. While both of these projects were not simple or quick jobs we found a way to get it all done while while completing the shoe and hardware punch out out list on a 5,000+ we completed in late 2015.

Late January brought the start of another custom residence located in Bloomfeild Township. From the upgrade trim package, to stacked crown molding, custom archways, office built-ins and a custom contemporary glass panel stair case this project was enough work to bring us through the first quarter of the year.

Throughout March, we would start another series of projects one of which would be a renovation of a historic home built in 1880. This project included an entertainment unit, coffered ceiling and replicating some of the original casings, which was a ton of work. While most of our projects are residential new construction this was a nice change of pace and brought many challenges as many of these older homes do.

In March, we also accepted a First Place Detriot Home Design Award with Arteva Homes for the best Contemporary Foyer. Some of our other work received some recognition as well that I wasnt expecting with the submissions from other builders and architects. Attending this event with my wife made for a enjoyable night out and felt very good to have all our hardwork as a company be aknoweldeged.

Speaking of built-ins, coffered ceilings and new construction the next project would be just that. These homowners couldnt be better people and with a great eye for design, it allowed us to execute these project efficiently while allowing us to hit our deadline in time for the start of what would be a crazy remainder of the year.

In the blink of an eye April was here and as mentioned at the start of this post, that meant the start of the Orchard Ridge Project. This project would turn into more than the homeowners, builder or us as a company would anticipate. At 12,000 square feet this home truly has it all in terms of custom trim and millwork. This project has been one of the most challenging projects I have designed and ultimately would have to execute. I would say this was mostly because of the scale of the home as well as our heavy schedule that we would try to maintain throughout. The next several months we would spend on the project executing the what felt like non stop trim, wainscoting, paneling, distressed beams, coffered ceilings, tounge and groove ceilings, built-ins and radius arches, this project I think summarizes what an who we are as a company and craftsmen. Projects like this seem like a dream project to other fellow tradesmen and they are, but not every custom trim and millwork company could execute a project like this. After months of being on the same project it is easy to get complacent, to miss the details and to want to start to “just get it done”. Thats not who we are as a compay though. While we push hard to get every project complete we also promise one thing, craftmenship.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things of being on a project for months at a time is finding ways to not shut down to the outside world, to other builders and clients who you have promised to work for through deposits and past relationships.

When this project is complete it will truly show what we are able to do as a company and if nothing else. Through every challenge we have persevered through and have stayed dedicated to delivering a product we are proud to put our name on.

Throughout the last quarter of the year we would also start another large custom home located in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. This project as most of ours included a full custom trim package, staircase, built-ins, ceiling details and cabinetry. While juggling another large custom project with another home as detailed and time consuming as the Orchard Ridge Project, brought many challenges but again we made it happen and found a way to hit our deadline.

Before we knew it December was here and we would start another project for some very patient and truly fantastic homeowners. This was a trim renovation that would grow from a living room ceiling detail into a full re-trim of the home in order to bring a more transitional feel to the home as well as a octogon shaped coffered ceiling and living room ceiling detail that originally brought us out to the project.

To say I am excited for all 2017 has to bring is an understatement with that said I also realize with continuous growth brings continuous challenge. With the continued concentration and focus of building a great team of craftsmen as well as staying true to our company mission statement, I feel that this year like last will be one to remember.

If you are interested in what we are doing as a company be sure to follow us along on our social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Houzz and Youtube.







Dear, Potential Customer. What every good contractor wants you to know.

From the moment I entered the trades, I have always thought it was facinating how other tradesmen, homeowners and builders viewed labor pricing, and how many of them have this view that it is “negotiable” and comes with no substance. I almost got the impression in the first few years of working in the trades that you basically just priced things based off of going rates, not determined by your operational cost like overhead, insurances, taxes, employees and so on, but instead by what others thought you should be working for or what they should be paying.

I could never imagine walking into a department store and saying to them “Hey, the store down the street has something very similar (not the same) and they are 30% less, will you take that?” Something tells me it would probably get me a few funny looks and directions to the door. I could also never imagine walking into a Mercedez Benz dealership and tell them “I love your cars but I cant afford it, how much will $15,000 get me cause thats my budget?” After I get my reply from the salesmen that I am at the wrong dealership, I ‘d asked him “What if I do cash?” As if your employees will take a big paycut if you pay them cash too!  Maybe these homeowners think us contractors can put it in our secret stash where we hide all of our extra money we make on our jobs (still waiting for that day). The reason that neither scenario would work is cause both the department store and car dealership both have an operating cost, they know there numbers and bottom line. Quite simply neither the store or dealership could stay in business, service a product or have employees if they opperated this way.

So here is my question, why are these skilled trade businesses different?  I dont blame these uneducated homeowners and builders for having this mentality. Afterall, we the contrators did this to our selves. How can “them”? More than likely they have never touched a tool or do not have the skills or knowledge to execute the very work they are calling us to bid. If they had this knowledge or skillset they would probably do it themselves, right? They dont know the hours a project will take, after all they watch a 30 min episode on HGTV and they build a entire house in that time frame. How can they not feel that what we do is a not a “get rich quick” scheme?

This isn’t a homeowner or builder problem, this is a skilled trades business owner problem. We as tradesmen need to step up our game. We need to understand we are running businesses. Businesses that need to sustain our families. Businesses that we can hire, train and build quality people. Businesses that can afford to do good quality work and make sure we are still in business to service our work in the future.

This year I decided to hire Shawn Van Dyke, a skilled trades business coach who not only understands what running a successful skilled trades business takes, but has years of experience as a CFO of a finish carpentry and millwork business very similar to what I am working so hard to build. I strive to want to build an amazing company. I am not looking to get rich. I have 3 beautiful children and a loving wife, in my opinion, I already am. If success in my business and financial prosperity follows, I am good with that.  After all, if any of the skilled tradesmen got into this business to get rich and not work hard, all I can say is good luck and I could think of 100 other things you could be doing that would take far less hours, skill and energy.

Long story short, if you are a fellow tradesman or skilled trades business owner, value your self and your time. Stop running your business based off of assumptions, build a great business, price your jobs to do them right, if you need help ask for it and always find ways to get better.

Dear Potential Customer,

I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to bid your project. I realize you have had many other guys (most of which are not qualified) to bid your project and I am sure far cheaper than my company, but I hope you give us a shot.

All I ask is that you carefully review the estimate they are giving, know the right questions to ask, understand what is and isn’t an extra, see there work and ask for referrals from past customers.

Demand respect of your home with proper floor covering, dust prevention and quality craftsmanship. However, please respect the fact we are going to work very hard in giving you exactly what you want from design to the execution. While we can’t do this for free or at discounted rates and expect to run a first class business, realize by doing this will allow us to give you a wonderful customer experience. Hold yourself, project and your expectations to a high standard. You see, you guys are the reason us skilled trade businesses are in business. If you have any questions or concerns call me at any time. While I try to make every effort to answer my phone during business hours,  just know that if it is 8pm on a weeknight, holiday or sunday mornings,  I might be spending time with my family but just leave me a message and I will get right back with you. Because that is all part of running a world class skilled trades business, communication and accessibility. Something those bargin tradesmen probably wont offer.

Know your budget. We understand our costs as a business, and while I know if you compare work apples to apples we will be in the same pricing zone. Please understand many owners of these skilled trades businesses do not understand this. So this is up to you to decide and figure out, but know that again, part of my service is helping you understand this. I realize that the project you are having us quote regardless of price is very important to you and I value that. Oh, and if our numbers come back higher than expected, just ask why. Just know I might ask you what you are comparing this to or what your reference for coming to this conclusion. While we cant do $30,000 worth of work for $10,000, understand we will be around for many years and we can always take your project in phases. Because we run our business like a business, we will be also able to service our work if you should ever have any problems. However, we are pricing our work to do it right the first time so this shouldn’t be a issue.

So I hope you make a educated and informed decision on moving forward with the project and really compare apples to apples. The saying “You get what you pay for” is very true. Though if you’re a more for less kind of person, the other guys should be just fine, just dont let them think you are getting a deal. Oh, if the other guys’ too good to be true price is infact just that, feel free to call us, we would be glad to take over the project. Just remember its cheaper to do it right the first time.


Anthony Vitale

Owner | Probuilt Woodworking