Name: Bill Bevan
Job Title: President of Remodeling Services Company
Where: Lynwood, WA – Greater Seattle Area
Employer: Bevan's, Inc. – Seattle, WA Remodeling Services
Years of Experience: 20 years of general contracting and remodeling
Education: Ballard High School
Salary: Use the PayScale Research Center to find the average general contractor salary.
Career Profile: President of Remodeling Services Company
As the president of a Seattle remodeling services company, Bill Bevan has his work cut out for him. His company, Bevan's Inc. handles numerous remodeling jobs in the Seattle area, from small repairs to extensive home expansions. In this interview, Bill shares his experience working in the construction industry. He describes the responsibilities involved in operating a remodeling services company and explains both the challenges and benefits of running a business. For those just entering the field, Bill offers advice on how to get started on a successful career path.
What are the Role and Responsibilities of a President of Remodeling Services Company?
Bill: As President of Bevan’s, Inc., I have extensive experience in Seattle, Washington remodeling services. Not only do I oversee the company’s operations, I am hands-on with daily projects, ensuring each project meets customer satisfaction. The remodeling services I perform include acoustic ceiling removals; custom bathrooms; custom decks; patios and fences; custom kitchens; energy audits; exterior and interior painting; finish basements and garages; fire, water and other insurance repairs; home expansions; home theaters; new flooring; window installations and replacements and other services as desired by my customers. Every day is a different day, depending on the jobs we have on the schedule. My duties even change throughout a single day. One moment I’m warming up the truck and greeting my staff of Seattle window replacement specialists, hardwood floor refinishers and remodeling contractors. The next moment I am driving around in our Puget Sound traffic taking a phone call from a customer, ordering supplies for a floors job, disposing of old materials, meeting with clients to discuss their next project, as well as managing my company finances. Additionally, there are safety checks on job sites, safety meetings with my staff, signing paychecks, and the list goes on. Owning my own Seattle remodeling services company requires that I wear a lot of hats, and personally, I enjoy the diversity this offers me. It takes me from the office computer to taking phone calls to meeting with clients to getting my hands dirty. Keeping a clean wardrobe is tough in this remodeling contractors business, but worth it at the end of the day.
How did you get started doing this type of work? What motivated you to start this career?
Bill: Honestly, I needed a job and thought that painting houses may be a good option for me. I began by putting signs on telephone poles and received enough calls to put both myself and my brother to work painting. We Bevan’s boys spent many a day together painting both exterior and interior house projects. However, I found myself growing older and with growing family obligations that required me to bring in a steady paycheck to support my wife and children. I went on a job search and was hired by a company that exposed me to not only painting, but masonry, remodeling, estimating, purchasing, and managing this type of business. It is here that I really explored and learned the many facets of Seattle, WA remodeling service, and ultimately how to manage a home remodeling business. However, life brought me back together professionally with my brother when we decided to start our own Seattle, Washington remodeling services company, Bevan’s Inc. With everything we had both learned and experienced over the years, we thought it was our time to run the type of business we wanted, doing the type of work we wanted, while having full control over our customers’ satisfaction. Our company mission was to be our customers’ contractor for life.
What do you love about your job?
Bill: Although remodeling services jobs can sway with the economy and require long hard days with a long hot shower at the end of the day to ease the ache of muscles you sometimes you forget you have, I love my job for several reasons. I wanted to own my own company and have control over my work and my customer satisfaction. I love the variety this remodeling service business offers, from changing wall colors to upgrading windows, floors, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, installing custom cabinets, building fences and decks – the list goes on. This job gives me the freedom to enjoy indoor projects during the winter and outdoor projects during the summer. I’m not someone who would be happy sitting at a desk all day, so I really enjoy the ability to get out in the world, meet people, and beautify their home with my very own hands. It is their reaction, their look of complete satisfaction and excitement that makes me love my general contracting job at the end of the day. These reactions come from both small and large projects alike.
Even the smaller projects can give you the largest smiles from your customers. For instance, removing an old and dated “popcorn” ceiling may be on the smaller end of our project scale if that’s all we’re doing for a client, but it certainly gains huge customer satisfaction when that same “popcorn” ceiling has been an eye sore for them for years, and it’s finally gone. Sometimes, once a customer sees their beautiful new and modern ceiling, they may realize that other aspects of their home are also outdated and require additional services from our window replacement specialists or hardwood floor refinishers. That’s when Bevan’s Inc. further enhances the customer experience by updating the rest of their home to equal those ceilings. For instance, we recently had an acoustic ceiling removal project that turned into a larger remodeling services project that included a complete bathroom renovation and custom deck built out of Treks decking material and plastic railings to give the customer a virtually maintenance free end product. We thought she was happy when she saw her new ceilings, but boy was she happy with her new modern bathroom that was twice the size as the old one, and her new deck she’ll enjoy for outdoor recreation. It’s always fun to look at the before and after pictures of all of our remodeling projects.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?
Bill: Your greatest love for doing remodeling can also be your biggest challenge. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and project satisfaction is completely dependent upon our customers and their viewpoint of the end product. We are, after all, human, with differing opinions and viewpoints. What’s timely for one person may not be for another. What’s top notch quality for one person may not be for another. The perfect color for one person may not be for another. I think you get the point. It’s very important to understand your customers’ needs and expectations and ensure they align with your project planning and final remodeling contractors’ product. And because we are just human, mistakes or other simple mishaps are bound to happen. We accept that, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. It’s frustrating when not enough floors, windows and other project supplies were ordered, or the first coat of paint or mud doesn’t dry in time, or the home owner forgot to leave their key, or your window replacement specialist’s equipment broke, or it rained when you needed sun, and so on. It is at these times that your professionalism truly kicks in for the sake of your clients, your staff and your sanity. Because you are your Seattle, WA remodeling services company, it can be challenging to separate the two, to separate your company life from your personal life. Especially on those days that you are so driven to complete a Seattle hardwood floor refinishers project, so excited to truly see the end result, you must still remember that there are only 24 hours in a day. Besides our need to work, there is still the need to eat and sleep. However, the opposite can also be true. Because you are your own remodeling company, it is up to you to maintain your motivation when you’re tired and exhausted, or when work is slow. You, and only you, are responsible for your company’s success at the end of the day.
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this field?
Bill: As for breaking into the field of Seattle remodeling services, your success is based on your knowledge, both innate and learned. Some of us are just born with that desire to work with our hands, be active, create things and find pleasure in the finished product. You can certainly start young by learning from your father or other helpful elder and be the one to help them fix the kitchen sink, repaint your bedroom or build the most fabulous tree house ever. You can also be the person to help your friends and family members when they need assistance with such remodeling projects. But this industry also allows you to learn on the job. Find a Seattle remodeling service employer that offers the type of projects you’re interested in and is willing to start you out “green” and educate you as you go. The more educated you are on the vast spectrum of the remodeling services, the more services you can offer to your clients. Even as a seasoned professional, there are always lessons learned along the way. It’s always a good idea to read the tape measure twice before cutting. Contrary to popular belief, it’s really never the tape measure’s fault if a measurement comes up short!
Because owning your own remodeling services company is truly a part of you, it’s important to separate your company time from your personal time, your company expenses from your personal expenses, and remember to pack a lunch on those days that just consume you, giving you no time to even step out for a quick bite. Because you are your company, it’s up to you to be professional, courteous, and timely, meet deadlines and expectations, order the correct type and amount of supplies, manage expenses, provide accurate estimates, and know the codes and regulations of the industry. However, if the “one man show” for remodeling services becomes too much, you’ll need to know when it’s time to hire in a staff, like window replacement specialists or hardwood floor refinishers, and/or when to hire out parts of the business that may not be your strong point, like accounting services to manage the books, payroll, taxes and so on. It’s important for you to continue doing what you are best at, what you love the most.
What are the craziest or most interesting things that have happened while doing this type of work?
Bill: It was installation of windows that led me to the craziest thing I ever had to do. As Seattle window replacement specialists, we were working on a six-story apartment building in Seattle in the fall. The building scaffolding was erected by another company and left for us to finish the windows. We got there in the morning and it was a little rainy, a little windy. In other words it was a nice fall day for the Pacific Northwest when Mother Nature decided to kick it up a notch for us. The rain started coming down vertically as the wind picked up to 40 miles per hour. You can only imagine the toll that was starting to take on the scaffolding structure. Before we knew it, the scaffolding was moving up to two feet away from the building and its tie downs were starting to fail. It became obvious that our window replacement specialists’ job for the day was no longer about installing windows, or even about our own safety on the scaffolding, but now had become a public safety issue! We rushed to the local hardware store and asked for their strongest rope they had. We then rushed back to the apartment building to find the scaffolding in further peril. Mother Nature had now pushed herself into full force. We got up to the roof and tied knots around the scaffolding and looped the rope around the elevator shaft of the building in hopes of maintaining stability. With soaking wet clothes and frozen knuckles, we left the site feeling we truly avoided a public disaster that day. The weather continued throughout the day and we even received a phone call from the Seattle fire department that night to tell us that they also took a trip up to that same roof and secured even more of their own ropes. Once all was said and done, it was an interesting and amusing trip to the fire department to return their ropes and recap the whole event. They said we did a good job, but that our hardware store ropes just weren’t strong enough. In the end we were all cracking up and were grateful that we could find the humor in this remodeling project.
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