For Paul Hamtil, CR, being a remodeler isn’t just what he does for a living. It is a career he has always invested in with the goal of being considered a part of the most knowledgeable and respected professionals in the industry. “Certainly for me it was not enough to just have a job. Being a remodeling professional was my career path, and education and professional development was something I have always perceived as a huge piece of growing my career and skill set.”
Similar to many other remodeling business owners, Paul grew up in the industry. His father ran his own one-man remodeling operation for 27 years. While attending college, Paul picked up a summer job with his father’s company which turned into a ten year tenure with the business.
In 2007 Paul was ready to start his own company and partnered with his brother, David Hamtil, to found Hamtil Construction LLC, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. The business now takes on over 30 projects a year ranging in value from $25,000 – $250,000, with some even reaching above the $300,000 mark.
Inspiration for Growth
In 2010, however, the brothers saw their business start to plateau and knew something was missing. They came to the realization that to advance their business they needed the business education, networking opportunities for exchange of ideas, and professional advancement offered by a reputable industry association. “We had reached a point where we needed to grow and improve our processes or fail. We were hoping the affiliation with a professional association would allow us to meet like-minded professionals who were running businesses we wanted to emulate, and that our affiliation with the association would be a catalyst in the sales process as a more professional company. ”
Finding the Right Fit
A peer introduced the brothers to a few industry-related associations and they joined and attended a few meetings but “in those associations we found that remodelers were a very small part of their membership. They were not as focused on remodeling and we felt a bit like the redheaded step child.”
In his continued search for an association more finely attuned to their particular needs as a remodeling company, Paul attended a NARI of Greater St. Louis chapter meeting in 2011 and immediately felt “NARI was much more focused on remodeling and better prepared to handle our needs.” He joined his local NARI chapter in August of 2011.
The Importance of Certification
The peer who had introduced Paul to some of the associations he explored prior to joining NARI held a number of professional designations and Hamtil was impressed. “I saw his certifications as representing a level of professionalism I wanted to strive for. So when we first decided to attend NARI meetings, the first question I had was what certifications the association offered.”
Hamtil met some NARI certified professionals and recognized that they were “smart business owners who were committed to their craft, who cared about the industry and making positive contributions to it.”
In seeking certification Hamtil says, “I wanted to challenge myself to grow in my profession and improve my business skill in running a remodeling company.”
Ultimately, Hamtil settled on NARI’s Certified Remodeler (CR) certification which was specifically designed for current and aspiring remodeling business owners. “I felt the CR was highly applicable to me and my skill set and how I wanted to represent myself as a professional.”
Preparing for the Exam
And so, Hamtil set out on his journey to certification. He opted to enroll in the study group offered to help professionals prepare for the certification. “The CR Study Group was very beneficial to keep me on track with studying the material. It provided a platform to share ideas and be challenged by peers across the county. And the facilitator provided a wealth of knowledge as a building code professional.”
To achieve certification Hamtil had to pass a 200 question exam. “I took the exam for four hours under the watchful eye of an examination proctor,” he remembers. Paul had studied diligently in preparation for the exam but once he sat down to complete it, he realized it was no cake-walk. “I thought I would be able to breeze through it, but it was much more challenging than I anticipated and I walked away feeling accomplished.” He sheepishly says, “I really didn’t know if I would pass.” But pass he did. Hamtil officially became a NARI Certified Remodeler in June of 2012.
For Paul his NARI CR certification was more than just a couple of letters to add after his name. “Having the certification embodies the level of professionalism I want to represent,” he says. “The CR credential validates that I have taken those steps to represent myself at a higher level and it really sets me apart from the competition.”
Paul has taken full advantage of his certification when speaking with prospective clients. “The certification is a point of differentiation in the sales process,” he says. “You can’t rely solely on certification to get you business but it does show we are selling premium remodeling services.”
Why You Should Do It Too
Hamtil recognizes that certification is not for everyone. “Some are content in staying where they are but I wanted to grow professionally and develop my career and business.” He encourages other remodeling professionals to pursue certification because it “represents an opportunity to invest in their own career.”
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