Qualified Remodeler Magazine

DEC 2014

Qualified Remodeler helps independent remodeling firms to survive, become more professional and more profitable by providing must-have business information, namely best business practices, new product information and timely design ideas.

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ach year, thousands of talented carpenters and craftsmen take the plunge. Tey hang out a shingle, post a website and go into business. Michael Gerber describes the im- pulse as an "entrepreneurial seizure," an often illusory mind set where someone who adequately builds decks or renovates bathrooms also senses an innate ability to run a business. How hard can it be, right? Very hard, studies have shown. About 13 percent of remodeling businesses cease operations each year. Slightly less than half never make it to their ffth anniversary. It was against these odds that Tim Ellis launched his business in March of 2002. At age 32, Ellis left a good job as a project manager for a commercial construction company and asked his brother Barry, a senior manager at a landscape-contracting frm, to do the same. Both soon met at a lawyer's ofce, says Ellis, and drafted a partnership agreement. From there, they bought a van for $600, joined an association and began designing, selling and installing deck jobs. "It wasn't like we went and tapped into savings," recalls Ellis. "We did not have any money. We just had an idea and a desire." Today, almost 13 years later, T.W. Ellis LLC is a thriv- ing, full-service family operation with 10 full-time em- ployees and $2.5 million in revenue, on 147 jobs. For toppers, company founder Tim Ellis was recently named NAHB Remodeler of the Year for 2014, an award spon- sored by Qualifed Remodeler. How did Ellis beat the odds and thrive in an industry where so many fail? In hindsight, the answer is clear. Ellis' family background in construction, his education, his experience and his drive for professionalism helped him not only succeed as a designer and craftsman, but also excel as a businessman. A FRENETIC ACCUMULATION OF CREDENTIALS T.W. Ellis LLC is a company on the move, and it has been that way from the beginning. A few short years after its launch, the company evolved rapidly from being a deck builder specialist to the frst company to remodel homes certifed to the National Green Building Standard, a re- modeled bathroom frst, then a remodeled basement. It was a multiyear commitment to green that continues to this day. Tat commitment began in 2006 when Ellis saw green as a way to diferentiate from competitors in and around Bel Air, Md. At the time, the only available green residen- tial certifcation was LEED for Homes, so Ellis became a certifed LEED AP. Later, when Home Innovation Research Labs, formerly the NAHB Research Center, began working on the National Green Building Standard, Ellis sought to help make the new standard applicable to remodeling. To that end, Ellis became one of the frst third-party verifers of the standard in 2008. He went on to sell, design and complete those frst NGBS remodel- ing projects in 2012. Today the company's approach to green is practical, not missionary. Te company focuses on ofering green product substitutions. Preparation, commitment & performance By Patrick L. O'Toole When Tim Ellis, CGR, MCGP, CAPS, became a remodeler, success was far from assured. But a frm commitment to education and professionalism vaulted him to the head of the pack. E Photo credit: David R. Sinclair ForResidentialPros.com QR December 2014 27 COVER STORY: Remodeler of the Year

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