Smithouse Construction LLC
When Dave Smith founded Smithouse Construction LLC in 2005, he was the company’s single employee, working out of his pickup truck. Today, Smithouse is a large-scale remodeling company performing residential and commercial renovations. The operation now has 14 full-time employees and is located in Cockeysville, Maryland.
In 2003, Smith graduated from college with a degree in history, and had no intention of starting his own construction company. “I worked in construction through high school and college and always enjoyed it,” says Smith. “I graduated from Penn State and went back to working in the industry to raise money for graduate school.” Eventually, Smith would gain a passion for the work he was doing. “I loved home remodeling and decided that was what I wanted to do.”
After working on his own for six months, Smith hired two employees and began taking on larger jobs. “It took a while for me to grasp the business aspect of the industry,” explains Smith. “After working long hours and weekends I began to educate myself on the financial side of things.”
Smithouse continued to see steady growth over the years and now the company operates with two divisions. “We have a large-scale division and a small-scale division that we just started in 2013,” says Smith.
After years of performing remodels in the $800,000 range the company had become accustomed to turning down the smaller jobs. Smith adds, “We didn’t want to continue turning down the lighter work so we opened the smaller scale division and that has been a great move for us.”
At the onset of 2015 the operation formally introduced a third division for commercial construction projects ranging from $5,000 to $2,000,000. “While we have completed commercial projects in the past we were mainly just responding to what came to our door,” Smith explains. “After the successful completion of a few key commercial jobs I felt the timing was right to formally introduce the commercial division and pursue it.” Since its launch, the commercial division has contracted a large scale commercial project at a prominent County Club.
Smithouse has recently been recognized by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). For projects over $1 million, Smithouse was awarded the National Contractor of the Year for the Southeast. “The job was in Towson and it involved an addition with a timber frame roof, as well as a kitchen addition and then a pool house which was basically a small home,” explains Smith. “It also had an elaborate patio and pool. It was a really great project.”
Another of Smith’s favorite projects took place in Ruxton, Maryland, and involved a fair amount of exterior work “It was a Dutch-Colonial and we ripped off all of the roof lines,” says Smith. “We did a small front gambrel addition, and added some dormers on the roof. We then added bell curves to all of the roof lines. The before-and-after effect was really amazing.”
When the recession struck in 2008, the construction industry was at the forefront of experiencing the economic repercussions. While many companies reduced workforces, others shut down operations completely. Smith recounts that his company was fortunate and maintained steady work which enabled his team to weather the economic downturn. “We were fortunate because in 2008 we landed an $800,000 job,” says Smith. “It was a tense time, but because of the relationships we had established, we really didn’t slow down much.”
As Smithouse surpasses 10 years in business, Smith sees the company growing as the economy improves. “2014 was really a year of establishment for us,” says Smith. “We are now recognized in the community as a high-end general contracting firm.”
With the company experiencing a 50 percent increase in volume last year, Smith is focused on establishing a solid infrastructure to support the growth. “Since 2013 we have been really focused internally on our operations systems and established Smithouse principles which have really guided the company and provided a foundation for 2014.”
Customer satisfaction is a top priority for Smithouse. Upon completion of a project, the company requests a full review from the client. “I will schedule a time to meet personally with as many clients as possible,” says Smith. “We’ll discuss how the project went over a cup of coffee.”
While construction is taking place, Smith will also meet with the client weekly to discuss the project and maintain an open-door relationship. “I’ll also meet with the project manager weekly and review the principles that Smithouse operates by,” he elaborates. “Our second law is the law of value. It states that ‘our true worth is determined more by how much we give in value than take in payment.'”
Moving forward, Smithouse will be focused on generating a greater market share in commercial work. With two projects approaching, both of which involve country club renovations, Smithouse is in anticipation of entering new markets. “We’re looking at an area that is full of private schools and hospitals,” explains Smith. “It will create a new challenge for us, but I think we can really take advantage of these markets.”
Smithouse will also continue to focus and sharpen current services in the large-scale residential remodeling sector. “We expect to recreate what we did in 2014 with modest growth,” says Smith. “We also plan to become even more efficient than we already are. Our small-scale division will grow as we will be looking to do more kitchen and bathroom work.”
As Smithouse celebrates 10 years in business, Smith is confident the company will continue to excel as it moves forward into new markets. While accepting new challenges, Smithouse Construction LLC will continue to thrive in the remodeling and renovation industry.
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