When you’re in the middle of a major construction project at your home or business, there are a fair many adjustments and compromises to be made as you try living your life around a mini construction zone smack dab in the middle of one of the most important locations in your life.
It’s something that Dexter Builders was aware of when dreaming up the recently opened Vision & Design Showroom at their main location at 8820 Jackson Road in Scio Township. Each room in their facility is a showpiece, in a way, from the offices to the bathrooms. There are even kitchens and other homey spaces, every inch of which was built to impress customers and vendors who pay the Dexter Builders a visit.
Each hinge and fixture says, “This is quality — this is how the Dexter Builders work.”
The showroom, which will be the venue for an open house this Friday and Saturday from 2 to 7 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. respectively, takes that line of thinking to a whole new level, in that the Dexter Builders want not just the finished project to be impressive, but the overall project planning and execution phases to be at best a positive experience, or at least less of a hassle.
“Our customers really needed this,” said Dexter Builders co-owner Jeff Brown. “A few of us have gone through our own remodel projects on our own homes, and as we’ve driven from this place to that place to pick things up, it crosses your mind that it would be easier if I just went to one place and it was all there for me.”
Until now Dexter Builders project managers were ferrying customers to three to five off-site retail locations that sell building materials, or sending them off on their own to shop for many of the numerous pieces required for a home remodel or a business expansion. Not only is this time-consuming and inconvenient, but the Dexter Builders customer experience was branching into other businesses not under their control. Other companies’ sales and design staff also added an element of randomness to a Dexter Builders project that had the potential to cause an uneven experience.
Cue the hiring of Designer and Showroom Manager Kathy Barthauer last year. She had been working as an outside design consultant helping Dexter Builders’ customers articulate their visions into a cohesive and well-coordinated project design that was both feasible for project managers and ultimately satisfactory to the folks who would be living or working in the affected space on an ongoing basis.
“Starting in January we began selecting our counter top and cabinet lets,” Barthauer said. From there she screened candidate vendors for just about everything you would need in a building project across 16 different product lines that contain enough different inventory for endless combinations of counters, flooring, fixtures, paint, lighting, and much more including appliances and even custom glasswork. Things like the appliances and lighting aren’t all displayed in the showroom, but Kathy can go over those areas with clients and customize everything on the spot.
“They hired me to guide the customer through the whole process, and we can do that right here in this space, which is right next to my office,” said said. “It makes doing the hunting easier for me, and we just put everything into Builder’s Trend system, where the project managers and customers can look at everything. We can all oversee and adjust the project without anybody having to make unnecessary trips.
With the average construction job spanning a hectic and busy 12-week period, shaving days off of the process can be a Godsend to people who just want to get back into their pre-construction routines.
“This has eliminated the need for one meeting early in the process that typically takes an hour where the project manager would go to different stores to collect samples that they needed and bring them here or to the customer’s house,” said Marketing Director Jordan Beecham. Customer experience is important to spreading the word about Dexter Builders, so the showroom is also intended to give a more positive impression of the company.
The more pleasant that dealing with a remodel of a kitchen or bathroom — two of the most labor intensive, expensive and elaborate rooms in a building — can be, the happier folks who do business with the company will be.
With more time devoted to the design process, which is essentially drawing out people’s creativity and ideas and infusing them into their project, Barthauer hopes that people won’t only feel less stress and save time.
She hopes they’ll have more fun.
“We want our customers focused on the fun aspects of a project,” she said. “It’s not every day that you remodel an entire room in your home or put up an addition. This is a rare chance to express yourself in a special way. Our goal is to make it as enjoyable as possible.”
Beecham added that, for a company that started out with a bunch of guys having a blast building some of the best decks the Dexter area has ever seen, enjoying the work is important to continuing the success and growth that Dexter Builders has been accruing for going on 20 years now.
“We want to draw out what you’re thinking, help you make those decisions, and get it all down on paper so we can make your remodel or addition come alive.”