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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Professional (MCPG), and he is a NADRA-trained Master Deck Professional (MDP), just to name a few. Back in 2002, the Ellis Brothers' new company faced the same long odds of success on paper in remodeling as any other new entrant. But in reality, their preparation and deep commitment to professionalism set them apart. Asked if all of the time and energy spent getting educated in business and earning designations was worth it, Ellis says yes, but not for the reason you might think. Aside from the substantial marketing opportunity the designations allow, they primarily gave him added confdence to know that T.W. Ellis is doing the very best for its customers. "Te certifcations are paying of because I know when I sit down to make a presentation to clients, that we're giving them the best anyone can give them," says Ellis. "Regardless of whether the homeowner sees value in these designations or not, I know I'm doing the right thing for my business and for the client. So when I leave their home, I sleep at night knowing I gave them everything I could professionally give them. From there, it's up to them and what they want to do. Tey have great drawings. Tey have a great estimate. And it is what it should be." A FAMILY AFFAIR First and foremost, T.W. Ellis LLC is a family company. Tim is the majority owner. His brother Barry is a minority owner. And a number of other family members – Samuel their father, Chris their cousin and Ronnie their uncle all work in the business. Even Tim's step-grandfather, a roofng contractor, is involved as a key trade contractor. All contribute to a business that is poised grow to $4 million throughout the next fve years, says Tim. Ellis attributes much of the growth of the business to com- mitment from family members. Te project management and carpentry skills of his father have enabled Tim to spend his time selling jobs, estimating and designing. Brother Barry sells, designs and estimates decks and outdoor living projects. "Fifty percent of the business is family," says Tim Ellis. "I am a true believer that it is not just me. I played sports most "If we are doing a kitchen, I will say, 'I really think you should consider a low-fow faucet,' " says Ellis, who holds a Master Certifed Green Professional designation from the NAHB. "I bring it up in the conversation and leave it up to them to select it." Like he did with green, Ellis' modus operandi has been to continually to seek out new opportunities, immerse himself in the details and earn the necessary credentials to become an expert. At age 19, he was accepted into the carpentry union as an apprentice, working during the day and taking carpentry classes at night. While working in the union, Ellis was also busy earning an associate's degree in business as well as a degree in construction manage- ment. He was also a member of the Maryland National Guard. It was during this period "that I decided I wanted to own my own construction company," says Ellis. It was Ellis' father Samuel who greased the skids for his son to join the union after he spent a single semester playing soccer and being a full-time student. Samuel Ellis was a union carpenter for many years. He taught Tim and Barry the carpentry ropes. Later, he joined his sons in the new business. Now 64, the senior Ellis is preparing for retirement from the company. Over the years, Tim Ellis' pursuit of several remodeling interests has led him to earn so many professional designa- tions it is difcult to ft the acronyms after his name. He is a Certifed Graduate Remodeler (CGR), a Certifed Master Remodeler (CMR) and a Certifed Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS). He holds a certifcate from the American Society of Professional Estimators (CPE), a Master Certifed Green T.W. E L L I S does not charge for esti- mates. It is part of the cost of doing business today, says Ellis. "Some people say we are doing way too much for jobs we might not get, but we are selling a vision," says Ellis. "The closer you can make the client see that vision, the better the chance we have at closing that deal. We want them to be able to clearly visualize the completed project. People can buy cars online now, but they still go into the showroom, get in the car and turn the car radio on. They drive it. It's got that new-car smell. That is what we are trying to create when we create our estimate." Solid estimating is one of the company's best practices. It helps pay for some of the jobs they don't get. And it certainly makes T.W. Ellis a more profitable compa- ny than it otherwise would be, says Ellis, who is a Certified Professional Estimator. "The key is figuring out your own per- sonal production rates," Ellis explains. "RS Means is a great resource, but your guys may not be the same people RS Means used to get production rates. So you have to start somewhere, and over time you learn how your team performs. It's about the data and getting the data from the field to the office. The main thing you need to get is information happening out in the field back to the office and adjusting that. If a guy is not feeling well and a job that was going to take him four hours ends up taking him eight, you need to make adjustments for those cases. "Labor is going to make or break you. It's easy to send a set of prints over to someone for a quote on material. But when it comes to figuring out man- hours, that's where it gets tough." No charges for estimates, designs 28 December 2014 QR ForResidentialPros.com COVER STORY: Remodeler of the Year

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