Articles and Publications
Capital Region Builders - Turning Befores into Fabulous Afters
What are the qualities that make for a successful residential remodeling company? Opinions may vary, but after 15 years of observing and interacting with contractors who specialize in remodeling, I have come to the conclusion that there are four elements that are common to those that prosper:
Foremost is a kind of enduring passion for and a taking of pride in the business. It is a challenging and often tiring endeavor, yet every good remodeler I know looks forward to each day’s work.
Second is knowledge of all the crafts involved. A remodeler need not possess all the skills applicable to remodeling, but he or she does need to be able to make expert determinations. And it is more than simply discerning good work from bad — we all can make that judgement — but superior work from the merely good or adequate. The level of quality is found in the details.
Third is the recognition that remodeling is a service industry. It involves working on and within a private home and it involves interpersonal relationships. Coupled with this awareness are the essential characteristics of fairness, honesty and a professional demeanor and conduct. If the remodeler also brings to this element a winning personality, he has an added asset.
Lastly is the possession of business skills and acumen. This is the part that largely goes unseen by a client, unless the skills fall short. It involves the know-how to administer projects (often several at one time) and to lead a team of employees, subcontractors and suppliers. In the latter’s interactions with a remodeler’s clients, they must mirror the remodeler’s positive values. And, bottom line, the company must be kept solvent and profitable, for without a reasonable return all else will fall.
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Capital Region Builders - A Passion for Building
The first time the name Dett Otterbeck clearly registered in my mind it was associated with a good deed its bearer had done. Dett had helped lead a renovation necessary to the survival of a Rensselaer church’s soup kitchen. The recognition made me think that maybe I had read his name before, also in connection with charitable activities. I checked and indeed I had. But that only meant he probably was a good citizen with a good heart. It didn’t necessarily mean he was a good contractor. But once the Otterbeck name was firmly ensconced in my memory I took heed of other references from suppliers and from Dett’s peers and competitors. Things like: “Do you know Dett? You will like him. … Have you seen Otterbeck’s work? … You ought to keep Dett Otterbeck in
mind when you go looking for a good remodeler to profile in the magazine.”
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Featured in Professional Remodeler
A little teamwork and inspiration can go a long way. That’s what the Capital Region (Albany, NY) Remodelers Council discovered last Christmas when they banded together to make life a little better for some needy Albany area residents.
It all started a few days after Thanksgiving when a local news program featured a story on the plight of an Albany church in need of building materials and volunteer labor. The church had been informed it could not continue to serve as a soup kitchen until its dining areas had walls and floors that were safe for public use.
As luck would have it, watching that night were Remodelers Council Chairman Ric Kaplowitz and member Dett Otterbeck. Both believed that the Remodelers Council and other association members could help, and they phoned each other to start the ball rolling. Otterbeck says, “This project struck us because the church is in our association region and our members are experienced professionals who could easily tackle this problem.” The challenge was to complete the project by Christmas . . .less than a month away.
Otterbeck, a newly elected member of the Albany Area Builders Association Board of Directors, took the lead. He started by calling the AABA office for tips on organizing a volunteer project of this scope. Then, Otterbeck and two other members met with the pastor of the church to review the project in detail and prepare labor and materials lists. After this meeting, Otterbeck faxed his lists and a plea for help to every Remodelers Council member and then reported on the project at the next AABA board meeting (his first as director.) By the time the meeting had adjourned, all the necessary building materials had been donated by other board members or their companies.
The next step was to line up enough volunteers to do the work. A week before starting the job, Otterbeck called every council member and asked them to bring along a volunteer to help. They did not disappoint, and the project was finished in only two days. A local supermarket chain even contributed food to feed the hungry volunteers. And the TV station that had aired the original story returned to film a follow-up segment that showed what can happen when a few people care enough to take action.
“Our Remodelers Council is a model for how much people can accomplish when they are committed and work together toward a common goal,” says Kimberly Seymour, AABA executive vice president.
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The guys were GREAT! They went above and beyond to help me and answer my questions. Your electrician and painters were also really good and I would use them all again on other projects.Doug & Lynn Roche Clifton Park
Your staff was excellent in all phases of construction. We appreciated his friendliness and professionalism. We will consider you first for any future projects.Deb Jameson & Lorelei Heidenstrom Schenectady
Thanks for a job well done. Our bathroom turned out great. Brian kept us up to date on what was going on and when as did Jay. We would definitely recommend your company.Barbara Vanat Valatie
Everything was done in a very professional manner, and we must say that everyone, especially Matt & Joe, were extremely friendly and helpful!Blaine & Carol BryceLoudonville