Bingo Emmons, CR, CRPM, UDCP, is a fifth generation remodeler. He began working at his father’s company following college graduation. In 1986, Bingo and his wife, Deb Emmons, started their own remodeling business, Creative Construction of Wisconsin, Inc. Today they average 100 projects annually from small jobs under $10,000 to projects exceeding $270K each.
In 2017 Creative Construction of Wisconsin, Inc. enrolled in the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)’s Accredited Remodeling Company program. Initially, Bingo was not very excited to engage in NARI’s Accreditation program. He recognized its value but wasn’t convinced his company needed it. Dan Taddei, Director of Education and Certification at NARI, eventually persuaded him to pursue accreditation for his business. Boy is Bingo glad he did.
When he began to explore the Accreditation Standard, Bingo discovered a blueprint for a thorough company-wide evaluation and organization update. Bingo says, “It surprised me that it is really the perfect handbook on how to prepare my business to hand over to the next generation.” Bingo and Deb plan to turn the company over to their son, Zach Emmons, CRS, CRPM. Fortunately, the accreditation process illuminated a crucial reality: their business wasn’t ready for a management change. “Everything was in my head and very little was documented prior to accreditation. I realized I should have done all of this day one, not some 30+ years later,” he says.
Building a Better Company
Compliance with the Accreditation Standard required Bingo and Deb to assess every component of their business. The process allowed them to reevaluate their processes and uncover opportunities for improvement. Bingo was surprised the by the multiple processes which needed revisions to enhance operational efficiency. “I learned a lot of stuff we were doing was simply not good enough and we used NARI Accreditation as an opportunity to improve our process. It really helped us to streamline a lot of activities, which in turn led to an improvement in internal communication, which then resulted in an improvement in the way we manage client projects.”
Bingo and Deb also improved their job costing process. Deb remarks, “The whole accreditation process validated why we do job costing. We were able to implement new procedures and stress the importance to our employees of documenting project spend on time, every day. We can now track job costs almost in real time. This has allowed us to be more responsive in making necessary changes to control costs better.” Now that they have everything on paper, Bingo jokes with his son, “If anything ever happens to me, just take the manual we put together for accreditation and it will tell you how to run the company.”
Accreditation Saves the Day
Shortly after the company was recommended for accreditation by the NARI Accreditation Board in June of 2017, the business was hit with an OSHA inspection “We had seven days to produce all of these documents and because we completed the NARI Accreditation we had everything documented. We never would have had these things prior to accreditation.” While the company always had a strong safety culture, it lacked a formal structure. “As part of preparation for NARI Accreditation we put together an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. We put it all down on paper, whereas before we just had it in practice. When OSHA inspected us, we were able to present them with our neatly outlined and documented IIP program,” says Deb. Thanks to the work they did in preparation for NARI Accreditation, Creative Construction of Wisconsin, Inc. passed its OSHA inspection with flying colors.
Since achieving accreditation for their company, Deb and Bingo have not been resting on their laurels. They knew they had to make the most out of the tremendous marketing opportunity accreditation affords their business. They went to work to make sure their prospective clients know Creative Construction of Wisconsin, Inc. is now a NARI Accredited Remodeling Company. Bingo emphasizes, “We reference accreditation and use the logo on our website, stationery, contracts, etc. and we make sure to talk to our customers about it. We do heavily market it. We are one of the first accredited companies in the country. I say that a lot.”
And their company’s accreditation has boosted their business’ image. “Our customers respond very positively and are assured we are a reputable company. We are not going to be the lowest bid but we’re nationally accredited and I’m a Certified Remodeler (CR) myself, so it helps me to position the business as a premium service.”
Bingo and Deb also have some advice for organizations who are working toward accreditation, “When you first look at the compliance requirements of the program it can be overwhelming but you just have to break it down by section and tackle compliance step by step and it becomes much less intimidating.”
During Creative Construction of Wisconsin’s, Inc. preparation for accreditation Deb was the project champion, delegating compliance tasks based on each individual team member’s strengths and assuring everyone completed their assigned work on time and correctly. “The goal was to do one section per week so we could get it done in two months,” she says.
Bingo believes NARI’s Accredited Remodeling Company Program will have a profound and lasting impact on the remodeling industry, “It will help us increase the professionalism of the industry and transform how it is viewed by clients, by helping all of us build better remodeling companies.”
Both Bingo and Deb are in agreement, “Don’t pursue accreditation just to get it done. Do it for yourself and your business. This program will help you build a better business.”