Quality First Home Improvement
“‘Quality First’ isn’t just the name of our company. It’s not just our motto, either. It’s our mission,” asserts Gary Kluck, founder and CEO of Quality First Home Improvement (QFHI). The Citrus Heights, Calif.-based company operates nine divisions across six locations throughout California and Nevada, providing home owners with a single source for top-notch home improvement services. Even as the economic downturn has dampened activity in new construction, QFHI has experienced an uptick in its business for the fifth year in a row, as property owners concentrate on maintaining existing structures.
“Gerry Anderson and I founded the company in 2005 and we have almost doubled our revenue every year since. We like to joke around here that our explosive growth is due to the economy,” jokes Kluck. “Here at QFHI we are a glass-half-full kind of company and we believe in taking a glass-half-full approach to everything we do. In other words, we focus more on our goals and progress and what you are doing right versus what is wrong and what’s wrong with the economy. From day one our commitment was we are going to be part of the solution not part of the problem with the economy.”
“We started out specializing in upgrading and remodeling the exterior of buildings, doing roofing, siding, painting, gutters, windows, even patio and fences. More recently, though, we have just expanded into the bath and kitchen remodeling market, and we also do insulations and heating and air conditioning as well.”
Credit Where Credit is Due
QFHI is a Diamond-Certified, licensed, bonded and insured contractor employing factory-trained and -certified installers to assure every job is done right the first time, whether it’s concrete, solar, coating, or one of many other aspects. The company has almost four decades experience, uses top-quality products from leading manufacturers, and assigns a project manager to oversee every aspect of a job, eliminating any confusion and reinforcing QFHI’s reputation for excellence. At the core of the company’s success is recognizing the accomplishments of the individuals who have contributed to the success of the company.
“Every quarter we have an awards ceremony to recognize the employees who have really gone above and beyond,” explains Kluck. “We strive to really recognize those who work hard for us and to motivate the whole team, and about 130 to 150 people attend with lots of cheering and inspirational speeches. There is so much success and excitement that most everyone catches the fire of enthusiasm. We then have a little BBQ cookout before everybody splits off into afternoon training sessions.
“We know how far we have come in the past five years and we remember very well how we used to be a small company,” continues Kluck. “So we like to reinforce that same kind of feeling once a year when we throw our Evening of the Stars event, which we have held four years running. It’s basically a gala occasion for our employees and their wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends to get together celebrate the accomplishments of that year and have a little fun. It’s really a rocker. It truly is the hard-working, loyal people who make this company. We have the hardest working, caring, best people in the industry and we want to take the time to show them our gratitude and appreciation.”
Through such performance-based awards programs at the Evening of the Stars the company is quick to recognize and congratulate the accomplishments of its employees, which is just one step in assuring QFHI offers the finest service. The firm runs ongoing training programs to prepare employees for managerial positions, and provides a centralized way for employees to receive feedback on performance. QFHI also has a specific infrastructure set up to allow for the most efficient operating procedures of such a geographically and skillfully diverse company.
“We understand very well how to successfully run a company with satellite offices. We like to simplify the equation for them by having all administrative departments run out of our headquarters here in Citrus Heights, so that our employees can go out and do their jobs,” explains Kluck. “But we plan on growing as a company, and you can’t successfully tackle new markets without the proper management in place, which is why we are continually grooming our staff to uphold the company’s standards in preparation for possible management positions. Our sales representatives and marketing staff are especially important to the company’s business, so we work really hard to make sure that they can effectively communicate with clients while on the job.”
Exemplar of the company’s commitment to quality, the firm insists on only carrying and using the highest quality products to perform better and stand the test of time, saving the customer money. “We insist on only using the very best,” asserts Kluck. “And I’m not about to say that we’re the cheapest company in town, because we are not. Our objective at every job is to do the best possible job in the shortest amount of time. To me, only carrying top-of-the-line products just makes sense even as a consumer. We would rather wow the customer by understating things and over-delivering, rather than by leaving a customer with the trailing liability that comes with substandard products that will require frequent servicing and repairs.”
Assisting QFHI in keeping abreast of the latest products and techniques are associations with the U.S. Green Building Council and key vendors, such as Pacific Supply, Enviro-First Window, Tex Cote of America and more.
Growing into the Next Decade
Given the nature of home improvements, the company strives to be especially strict with time schedules. “Completely gutting and remodeling a kitchen can be a very uncomfortable experience for a homeowner,” explains Kluck. “Some firms will take more than 90 days to complete a total kitchen renovation, which is ludicrous to us. We strive to complete the more extensive project within 30 days, with most customers’ kitchens only requiring a little over a week. It’s really at this point that the training comes in; this is when our employees prove to clients that the coordination that takes place before setting foot in a home can make all the difference.”
In the coming years, the firm has no reason not to expect a similar growth pattern than it has seen in the past five years. “With every business you run into challenges, it’s a given,” says Kluck. “But this year was a wash for a lot of companies, and even in this economy we’re on track to reach our goal of $30 million in revenue, so in another two years I don’t think it would be out of the question for us to aim for $50 million. We’re looking to establish some offices in Oregon and move into southern California.”
More than anything, it will be the hard work of QFHI’s people and Kluck’s more than 37 years of hard-learned lessons in the industry that will pull the company to that goal. QFHI wants to be the pacesetter of the industry and, with the company’s newly launched first class customer service division and its 11 new websites coming this fall, the QFHI management believes the company is on course to accomplish that goal.
Treating employee’s right, treating people right, investing in their future, and having them direct all their energy on superior customer satisfaction in return, Quality First Home Improvement has put in place the approach to grow its presence in any economy.
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