The economic situation over the past half-decade has had far-reaching impacts for the building industry. Several resourceful and competent local contractors have weathered the storms with an unsinkable determination, a commitment to superior service and a cautious optimism. What role has marketing and brand awareness played in the survival of these companies, and how will it help them reach their goals for the future?
Bend-based Northwest Quality Roofing removes a lot of old and obsolete roofs and replaces them with attractive, highly-functional roofing. They recently decided to give their website similar treatment to reflect their brand. Northwest Quality Roofing has been growing as their reputation and brand continue to take deeper root in the community. The new site will allow the company to grow its internet presence and reach as well.
“We understand the need to keep pace with online marketing, since so many people are communicating there. Our previous website was very simple and we often had to wait weeks to have simple changes made by our previous website provider. Our marketing agency, Intrepid, rewrote our copy, expanded and re-designed the site and moved it to an easy-to-edit content management platform so that we can quickly add new photos and content,” according to owner, Jake Woodruff.
“We now have a home page photo slider where we can easily swap out photos; we have the capacity to write blogs and add video, as well as other modules. We can showcase current projects and interact with the community on a real-time basis. We have an attractive, well-written site with intuitive navigation, which will be important once we put a focus on Search Engine Marketing. We want visitors to find us, stay on the site and then contact us because it reflects the quality of our brand.” The company has also invested in a logo re-vamp as well as strategic print advertising.
Absolute Wood Flooring also tightened up their logo to better reflect their focus on high-quality craftsmanship flooring. To increase the exposure of their brand, they had signage installed on their company vehicles.
“Marketing and growing our brand’s awareness has been an important part of staying competitive in the present economy,” says owner, Sean Dunker. “You can’t present yourself with a low-quality logo to represent high-quality work. It just doesn’t make sense.”
686 Design Center in Bend is a collaboration of some 20 building and design contractors who have joined forces to create a new brand and consolidate a collective reputation.
According to Frank Ring of FR Custom Homes, many companies in the industry did little or no marketing before the recession; several have seen the need since then to ramp up their marketing, some for the first time. Jason Todd of Jason Todd Home Design, another member of 686 Design says that the industry got a “wake up call” five years ago, and realized that they had to do things differently to adjust to a new reality. “The downturn tested the mettle of those in our industry,” says Rosie Johnston of Interior Ideas, another 686 partner. “The best and brightest are still here, doing it right.”
Shelly Hummel of Coldwell Banker Morris Real Estate represents a number of buyers, builders and contractors in Central Oregon. She has good things to say about several builders here, and has deep roots with many of them. “There are many good, hardworking and creative builders here,” she says. “That’s why they’re still doing business.”
Hummel highlights 686 Design, Frank Ring and Ric DeMarco as just a few examples of how Central Oregon builders and designers are combining time-proven values with innovative approaches to communicating their brands.
“Through 686,” she says, “Frank is supporting staff that has supported him. He’s created a one-stop-shop ‘candy store’ for anyone building or renovating. He’s been able to build this dream on the foundation of quality, follow up and ‘insane’ customer service—he will drop whatever he’s doing to meet with one of my clients and develops a trust factor with his clients.”
Hummel says that Ric DeMarco was “ahead of the marketing curve even in the peak days of construction. He’s always put out quality print ads and a gorgeous and creative website. Several larger builders like Norman have also done that well, but Ric has set an example for smaller builders.”
This handful of examples indicate how many have survived and even thrived in a down market. “Business has been steadily growing for us, in spite of various challenges from the present economic environment,” says Woodruff of Northwest Quality Roofing. “We see good things on the horizon.”
By insisting on a level of quality and service that the “big box” stores can’t match, working more efficiently without sacrificing quality and by applying strategic marketing to ensure that brand communications match their level of quality, the Central Oregon building industry continues to move forward and is built to go the distance.