Qualified Remodeler Magazine

MAR 2019

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.

Issue link: https://qualifiedremodeler.epubxp.com/i/1090915

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Page 24 of 70

Where did your interest in woodworking come from? How did you get started? My father had a small shop in the basement and, from as young as I can remember, I worked with him in the shop building small furniture pieces while he restored antique furniture. My uncle was a high school tech teacher, and in his off-time I worked for him building and remodeling houses while in high school. I actually went to the United States Coast Guard Academy and earned a degree in engineering. AƁer graduation, I was fortunate to be selected as an Industrial Officer. For the following 18 years during my time as an officer, I ran construction crews repairing and rebuilding lighthouses and offshore structures. This was a great place to learn how to calculate overhead costs and create production schedules. When I retired from the Coast Guard, I had just finished building a house on an island for my family, and I thought it would be great to take my offshore experience and start a remodeling company dealing with the islands around Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. What first drew you to your local NAHB chapter, and what keeps you involved? I came from a military background and that comradery that you have in the military was lacking in the civilian world. I first joined our local chapter to give our company rec- ognition, but quickly realized that it was far greater than that. It is a network of the best professionals in the area whom I can ask questions, share concerns, gripes and jokes with. The members of our local chapter, who are our competitors, have also become close friends whom we can use as a knowledgeable sounding board if the need be. What motivated you to help re-establish the New Hampshire Remodelers' Council and recently serve as the council chair? I heard that years ago, the Remodelers' Council in New Hampshire was substantial. Members would come to learn about mark- up, margins and best practices. I thought that this is something vastly needed in our world and used that for the reason to re-establish the council. Most of us build our businesses with what we assume to be the best practice, but by meeting with other remodelers the whole group becomes better. Can you share a bit about the local high school tech program, and how you first became involved with it? Huot Technical Center is the Construction Trades program for schools on the southern side of Lake Winnipesaukee. Our state HBA started a program three years ago with the state lottery to build tiny houses with five trade schools. Upon completion, the house built by Huot was selected as the winner for a scratch ticket game. Our local program be- came involved by offering to cover all the expenses with Huot, and providing the con- struction and plumbing labor. We have two fantastic teachers who are perfect for helping high school kids get exposure to the trades. When we first started the program, the class- es were marginally filled. Since then, our lo- cal program has decided to keep building tiny houses—we are currently on our third one. The classes at Huot are filled, which is great for workforce development! We take the proceeds from the sale of the tiny hous- es to provide scholarships for students who will be attending college in the construction trades, or tool belts for those who will direct- ly head out into the workforce. Are there any takeaways you can share as far as fostering and training the next generation of builders? Everything happens locally—all the regional and national programs are great for publicity and possibly funding. However, the impact is at the local level. The kids get to work with builders during the all-day builds on the tiny houses and see that we are ordinary people who can thrive as builders making enough money to buy a house, have a family and give back. What is your business focus right now? We are trying to grow responsibly. Our son has just come back to working with us, and he brings his law degree and the knowledge attained with it, as well as unique prob- lem-solving skills, with him. This is a great opportunity to start growing [plus] develop- ing a succession plan for the company. AƁer the recession, we grew too fast and irrespon- sibly with a hard impact on our finances. We learned from that experience, will be work- ing with a marketing agency and have hired a bookkeeper to help us grow responsibly. We are actively looking for new people who want this to be their last job, [and] we are looking at benefits that we can offer our cur- rent workforce so we can stay competitive. Anything else that you'd like to mention about career accomplishments? I like to think of this as the midpoint in my career. We have a great business with some talented people. I want to see us push for- ward and grow to be the premier remodeler in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. At the Midpoint With a plan to strategically grow his business, Clason reflects on the journey to this point and in the future. compiled by Kacey Larsen Photo: John W. Hession Clason says a relationship with a local architect has helped connect his company with the right clients. KURT CLASON, CAPS K.A. Clason Fine Woodworking Corp. Ossipee, N.H. kaclason.com TITLE: President YEAR COMPANY FOUNDED: 2006 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 8 22 March 2019 QualifiedRemodeler.com NAHB REMODELER OF THE MONTH

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