This person shows how to things well .
Bryan Baeumler will soon launch BaeumlerApproved.ca, which will recommend approved trades and contractors.
Baeumler: The evolution of a business
October 07, 2011
Special to the Star
When I started out in this business I was 14. My friend Pat and I opened a business called The Moon River Handymen. We had a small tin boat with a 10 horsepower motor, the energy of youth and a variety of experience being our fathers’ and older brothers’ “helpers.”
Our first job was mowing a few unkempt acres full of thick grass, thorn bushes and rattlesnakes. We moved on to hauling garbage from construction sites and cottages by boat to the local transfer station, digging trenches for water and power lines, sanding and refinishing a lakeside sauna and eventually helping out with building decks and an addition.
The point is, we started small and we were willing to take any job we could get. Both of us pursued secondary education and explored employment opportunities in industries completely unrelated to the construction industry. But both of us came back to the industry we were meant to be in. Years later, Pat (** ](http://www.powersconstruction.com/)www.powersconstruction.com](http://www.powersconstruction.com/)) and I are both building custom homes, although he is now in Vancouver.
Going out on my own years ago meant starting small again and building a customer base — a few sheets of drywall, a number of bathrooms, kitchens, a few basements, small additions and eventually complete homes. Before I knew it, the company was growing, overhead was increasing and we were paying more in taxes, WSIB, insurance and licensing every year than I used to actually make in five.
Image and marketing have always been a big part of my business plan — keep the trucks clean, keep the sites clean, hire skilled and dedicated employees, show up when you say you will, do what you say you’ll do, work hard and pay your taxes. That’s not to say there haven’t been some hiccups. I’ve learned some expensive lessons over the years about people and business. I think Kenny Rogers summed it up those lessons in The Gambler. About six years ago, I offered our services to an HGTV producer free of charge in exchange for some additional advertising and promotion. Needless to say, it’s been a very busy six years.
One of the lessons I’ve learned is when to say no, and that comes naturally if you start small. Whether you’re attempting your first DIY project, or starting and growing a business, you need to know when you’re operating at capacity or approaching the boundaries of your skill level, and push those limits slowly.
With such a busy production schedule over the past few years, it’s been somewhat challenging to maintain the momentum of our business. At the end of the day, renovating and building custom homes is my passion, so it’s a key part of my core business and it’s already operating close to capacity. My next step is to expand my building business while maintaining the same quality and commitment to detail that have been so important to me from the beginning. That next step is teaming up with Stuart Riley from BRS Construction, who will be operating the “Baeumler Quality” residential renovation and construction business ( **](http://www.brsconstruction.com/)www.brsconstruction.com](http://www.brsconstruction.com/)).
Stuart and I have worked together on a number of projects over the past few years, including my own home, and we’ve been taking steps towards integration that makes sense. Originally from England, Stuart began his career in the construction industry with qualifications from the City and Guilds of London Institute, including a designation in fine furniture crafting.
Stuart moved to Canada in 1996 and began business as a cabinet making. His business grew and gained popularity in and around Oakville, so branching into custom construction was an obvious evolution. Most importantly, Stuart’s attention to detail and experience are a perfect fit with our own brand, which will continue to grow and improve the product we’re able to deliver.
We started small, but something tells me the next six years are only going to get busier!
We’re not in a business where the same cup of coffee or hamburger can be reproduced on every corner; every job, every homeowner and every home are unique. Each week we get hundreds of emails from across Canada and the U.S. requesting quotes on bathrooms, basements, kitchens, additions and custom homes — and we get just as many asking where to find a contractor, or for referrals to qualified trades in their areas. I’ve always been hesitant to make referrals unless I’m referring someone that would meet our own standards. I hear from so many homeowners that I decided it’s time for another small step.
In order for us to work with or hire a trade, they need to make an application, and we have a very strict approval process; it’s the same process I’ve shared with thousands of homeowners at trade shows and appearances over the years. They all must be licensed and insured, and that includes a municipal business license and specialty license if required. All companies must be current with WSIB, or have current clearance certificates. Homeowner and trade references are checked. Credit and criminal history checks are completed and updated regularly. We look for individuals and businesses that operate with the same ideals as our own — show up, work hard, be honest and pay your taxes. It’s a pretty simple recipe.
This year we’re launching BaeumlerApproved.ca](http://www.baeumlerapproved.ca/), which will be a resource for homeowners to find local trades that I recommend. The site will be constantly evolving and expanding to provide other helpful resources to both homeowners and contractors. A portion of all revenues from the site will be dedicated to charitable renovations, homeowner resources and mediation if necessary. I think it’s a good thing, and hopefully soon I won’t have to say no so much!
*Bryan Baeumler is the host of Disaster DIY (Thursdays at 8 p.m.) and House of Bryan on HGTV. His column appears every two week in New in Homes & Condos. You can contact him via his website *@Bryan_Baeumler.