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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media; The Death and Re-birth of our blog.

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 pagewebsite 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. 🙂