Professional Remodeler magazine released its annual "40 Under 40" list of top performers in the remodeling world. Our very own Lead Designer Stephanie Hoffmeier was in the group of recipients which surveys all of North America.What is the "40 Under 40" Remodeler Award?
The Pro Remodeler judging panel reviews applications from a diverse and creative group of applicants who are making their mark not only within their own businesses but are committed to helping the remodeling industry as well. They are making a difference by setting high bars for best practice and sharing this with peers the industry. Some of their topics of interest include updating technology, staff training, project tracking, kitchen and bath innovations, client support, and productivity. Applicants also donated their time and expertise to local non-profits for under-served homeowners in need to help build or remodel homes, renovate kitchens and baths, or to make urgently needed repairs.
The criteria for winners typically include company owners, managers, design and marketing professionals, salespeople, and administrative staff. The award celebrates leadership, professional growth and achievement, creative problem solving, and a passion for excellence.
Each year, the Professional Remodeler Magazine honors a selection of 40 industry standouts to represent the emerging influencers in the field and the industry’s growing sophistication – all of whom are under 40 years old.
In 2015 our Operations Manager, Joey Willhite, was selected for this industry-wide achievement. Stephanie was selected for this honorable recognition and joins Joe in representing Bellweather Design-Build.
After being nominated, the magazine contacted Joe and Stephanie and asked them questions about their contributions and industry successes. For this article, Will sat down with Joe and Stephanie for an interview.W: OK Steph, what do you see as a homeowners’ biggest challenge during the design-build process for a home addition?
W: And Joe, how do you help a potential client get comfortable with deciding their budget for a remodeling project?
J: I’ve worked here for 15 years and have helped see a lot of different projects from start to finish. I have a really good sense for what certain projects are going to cost, what our past clients have done to improve their homes and how those remodeled projects turned out. I have a really good idea for what a successful project looks like – along with successful design decisions. We also know what failure looks like, and can help clients steer clear of potential pit falls. I have a sense of what the most valuable remodeling projects would be after working with various banks and realtors over many years. It's important that people don’t get caught up in over improvements. I’ve personally owned and renovated three homes over the years myself, so I know and have a feel for what that stress looks like.
First Time Remodeling Clients
W: Steph, how do you help a homeowner who’s never done a kitchen and/or bath renovation before?
S: I like starting with the basics – finding out what our clients want to get accomplished by taking on a remodel; what problems they need solved; what design elements would impact their lifestyle, space planning, etc. At the beginning of design, I ask that clients fill out my kitchen and bathroom lifestyle survey to get an idea of what they need, to educate them on the many different styles of appliances, fixtures, sinks, etc. I ask our clients to look through inspirational images via Pinterest or Houzz to create a digital mood board which becomes the starting point for color schemes, finishes, and material ideas that we build off of. We have an organized approach to the decision-making process on our cloud-based software that allows the homeowner to compare suggestions for fixtures and other materials that I provide and they can see first-hand how their materials selected affect the overall budget. I strive to be a helpful educator that holds clients' hands through the entire design process. I have many discussions on pros and cons of various materials or design aesthetics, I get feedback from our production team, trade partners, and input from our vendors and suppliers to help the clients make well informed decisions.
W: Joe what keeps your passion for creating happy clients?
J: No two clients and no two projects are the same – so we’re always presented with new challenges and expectations and I love it. What’s interesting for me, is how we work with our clients and the tensions between our standard process, custom designs and unique details that meet our client's needs and homes specifically; it’s a tailored experience for each client. I like making the client feel like they're the only one that matters, especially when they feel overwhelmed.
Using Exploration to Smooth Out the Worry During Design
W: What areas do clients get stuck in during the decision-making process and how do you work through it?
S: Early on in design, I see a lot of clients fearful of buyer's remorse – thinking that the decisions they make are irreversible. It's my job to lay out the options and explain the pros and cons. I help our clients feel confident in their decisions. We look at all angles before making decisions in design. I also see some clients getting stuck during the material selection process of design while picking their finishes. Some clients prefer to visit showrooms and see the material first-hand while looking at all of the options; while other clients are okay with seeing a few choices that I recommend and pick from a smaller list and individual samples. It’s a unique experience for each of our clients based on their lifestyle, their availability and their shopping preferences. We have a process that works – but we adapt to make each of our clients comfortable. It's an approach that includes tailored adjustments to fit the needs of each homeowner.
W: Joe, what do you like most about working at Bellweather Design-Build as the Operations Manager?
J: I get to wear many different hats – and have the opportunity to interact with every one of our departments each day. Design, estimating, construction, and warranty are all stimulating for the unique problem solving challenges they bring. We feel that the operations department is the beating heart of the company – it keeps us ticking and our remodeling performance depends on it. I work with the general manager for staff performance, professional development, continuous education, developing new systems, efficiency, productivity and HR. We now use software such as Trello for internal communication and task management, which I worked to implement for the company. Other business processes that I'm excited about are agile management, daily stand up meetings, 360-degree reviews, and departmental metrics.
W: Steph, What is one fun thing you enjoy doing for your clients during the design process?
S: I enjoy presenting the digital 3D model to our clients at the early stages of design and the material selection process. When clients first see the design in 3D and they go “WOW” with a big smile on their face, I feel like I hit the nail on the head. It feels good to give our clients a new space that they will not only feel comfortable in, but that they will entertain in, and grow their family in and enjoy showing off to their friends and family. Taking a break from my desk, I also accompany our clients to showroom visits to meet with our vendors and suppliers so they can make informed material selection decisions. I call the material selection process the fun part – you're out and about shopping in various neighborhoods of the City and surrounding suburbs for material, you’re picking the jewelry (hardware, lights, etc.) for the space and you’re starting to feel it all come together.
W: Joe, why do you think Stephanie deserved to win this award?
J: I’ve been able to work with Stephanie since she was an intern while studying at Philadelphia University which turned into a full-time designer position once Stephanie graduated. I’ve never met anyone that’s her age that’s so driven and focused. I’ve been able to see the growth from someone still in school progress into a lead manager. I see her passion for design and I see her care for client satisfaction and her energy in keeping our clients excited about the project. She doesn’t take any shit and she pushes for on-time and on-budget expectations. She carries the banner for following the systems in pre-construction so we can be as efficient as possible for our staff, trade partners, and clients. We probably wouldn’t have seen the growth that we’ve seen in the company if she hadn’t started working here. I’m also really grateful to be working alongside her as she works towards her architectural license.
W: Why do you think Joe deserved to win this award?
S: Joe is the man! He’s the go-to guy at Bellweather when I need to ask a question on almost anything. He’s been involved in every aspect of the company including sales, design, admin, pre-construction and construction over the last 15 years so much that he could pick up any one of those positions, if need be. I am grateful to have had Joe as one of the main people in the company who took such an interest in training me through our design-build process and our many standard operating procedures and checklists, and to strive for 5-star client satisfaction at all phases of the project. I wouldn’t be the award-winning designer that I am today without Joe's guidance and influence over the years at Bellweather.
W: Thanks to both of you for your answers and Congratulations!
Written by Will Giesey
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