Joe Schwab, CGR
HCS Construction Services Co., Bellevue, Wash., HCSConstruction.com
Number of employees: 7
Q: How did you start in the remodeling business?
A: In some ways I was born into it. My father was a cabinetmaker and was involved in building and selling industry products. When I was in high school I helped him build a house, and learned how to design and lay out kitchens. I have been interested and involved in some facet of building for most of my life.
Q: How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?
A: It hasn’t really changed. In many cases remodelers are living a lifestyle. It’s what they do. It’s what they eat, breathe and sleep. What may be changing is the evolution of remodeling becoming more of a business as opposed to a lifestyle. As people become more professional and business-like, remodeling has a different feel. Many remodelers are still in it as a lifestyle, because they were born into it or they just have a knack for the skills it takes to do what they do. Remodelers are a bit like cowboys, farmers or ranchers in that they are self-reliant and independent. Many have small operations and they work in the field. It’s hard to rise above working in a trade during the day and still do the books at night. The owner is limited in how big the company can grow. Once the owner thinks in terms of leverage, growth, hiring, partnerships and more employees, the owner begins working on the business rather than in the business.
Q: What have you done to grow your business during this economy?
A: HCS Construction Services Co. has always been diverse and recently we became more diverse due to the changing economy. I’m a fan of what I call the “Z” words: Recognize an opportunity. Analyze. Organize. Synthesize. We’ve always been on the lookout for potential opportunities so we’ve moved from the traditional remodeling and insurance repair to add multifamily work and custom building. We recently purchased a floor-covering business which does mostly commercial flooring and that’s increased our diversity. We are optimistic about growth in the multifamily sector and we’re experiencing growth on the commercial side. Our diversity enabled us to stay busy during the economic downturn.
Q: What does being part of NAHB mean to you?