Building a Solid Reputation
Having built a relationship with Heat’n Sweep in Okemos that included referring business back and forth, it seemed only natural that when space adjacent to Heat’n Sweep became available in May 2009, the brothers should move in and renovate.
Scott stressed how important networking and referrals are to their profession, one historically notorious for not doing what it’s supposed to do when it comes to customer satisfaction nor for being there after the job has been completed.
“We’re not just there to build a deck,” he says. “Our goal is to take care of the clients above and beyond, [and one] strategy is to find companies of like-minded quality and excellence … [who value] integrity, and character. All of those things are really important to us.” It’s also something they stress to their contract partners, a collection of subcontractors they worked with and have come to trust over the years.
Custom Built generally employs about 10 people on an ongoing basis, although a big remodeling job can involve as many as 100 craftsmen (their contract partners) who wear Custom Built shirts and act as extensions of the company. As the person responsible for all sales, Flory said his biggest job is “helping them [clients] understand the value” of working with a company like Custom Built. “We’re not going to be the cheapest; we’re going to be middle to the higher end.”
But as Scott is quick to point out, “The most expensive home improvement project is the one you have to pay for twice. You could get it for $3,000, but then you’re going to pay someone to rip it out and start over.”
Although most of their business is residential, Flory pointed to a huge deck build-out they worked on for the City of Grand Ledge a couple of years ago as an example of commercial successes they’ve had. He also says that because their business model is built around what the client’s needs, wants and desires are, the process and steps are basically the same whether they’re working on a basement remodel, a sunroom, kitchen or deck; whether it’s for a family or for a business that may have bought an old house in which to set up shop.
Restaurants looking for a three-season room for its patrons and apartment complexes in need of re-decking to get on the green train are also excellent candidates for Custom Built’s talents.
Decks, which represent about 35 percent of their business, are evolving. Led by Trex®, the industry is transitioning to more composite materials which give clients the best of all worlds. “People are really interested in not having to do the staining every few years,” Scott says. In instances where the undercarriage is good, many businesses and families are asking companies such as Custom Built to install low-maintenance systems. Outdoor kitchens are also increasingly popular, as more and more people “want to be able to have everything right in their backyard.” Literally.
As a member of the Greater Lansing Home Builders & Remodelers Association, Flory says that he’s enjoyed meeting members and associate members across the region, and benefits from the educational summits and sharing of information that goes on. He says he’s learned a lot from other builders and that everyone involved appreciates the senior members’ willingness to teach and help other members become more successful. (As for GLHB&RA CEO Doug Carr, Flory says, “he really understands how to run businesses.”)
Flory says their work takes them as far as 60 miles away, but the majority of their business comes from the tri-county area. He says it’s normal to have 15 to 20 jobs going at once, with as many in the pipeline. No matter how large or small the project, they make every effort to make daily progress until the job’s done.
They’re driven by a passion for what they do. “We love to build and create stuff for people,” Scott says. And it goes beyond making a buck. “When you’re taking someone’s hard-earned money [to build something] that they’ve been thinking about, and you’re part of the process of seeing a dream come true, and you’re able to share it with somebody, walking through the whole process, it’s really kind of an intimate thing,” Scott adds.Both brothers speak about their desire to take their business to a “whole different level of sophistication,” in terms of customer service and satisfaction—building rapport and cultivating good relationships.
Custom Built Basements & Decks
Michael Flory, Co-owner
Chris Scott, Co-owner
2037 W. Grand River Ave., Suite C