Urbandale company takes top honors in national franchise group.
For a design-build company, the best rewards come from satisfied clients who will spread the word about your work and business. At the same time, it’s a great feeling when peers appreciate and acknowledge your work, too. It’s even better when those peers are located across the country.
Brothers Harold and David Cross, who operate Archadeck of Central Iowa, are enjoying those accolades. The Urbandale business franchise was recently named as the national 2016 Archadeck Design Excellence Award Grand Prize winner from the more than 2,500 projects designed and built by Archadeck’s 50 franchise offices across the nation last year.
The award was for a project in the Lynnville-Sully area east of Des Moines. The homeowners had added a pond, beach, and island to their property. Archadeck created a curved deck, railing, and pergola across the entire back of the home.
“The votes for this award came from peers that I respect,” Harold Cross says. “We are judged by our counterparts, and that makes it very special.” He explains that for each quarter of the year, franchise owners can submit entries into three categories—decks, porches, and patios. Winners in the three categories each quarter, or 12 winners, then vie for top honors at year’s end. The Crosses submitted photos, specifications, and visions and descriptions of the project to be judged.
Before buying the franchise, Harold was with information technology for 29 years in a corporate setting, and David was in construction and worked for the previous Archadeck franchisee in this market.
When that person left, he offered the opportunity to take it over to David. The brothers decided to take it on. Harold handles the business side, David the construction part. They are entering their fourteenth year. “It takes me back to what I originally thought I wanted to do in the fields of architecture, but I took a 29-year detour into information technology. This work blends lots of areas for us.” They have the only Archadeck franchise in Iowa.
The pair started in the landscape remodeling business a bit before the term and phenomenon of “outdoor living” had much meaning. At first, of course, the business was basically about building decks. But it soon expanded into porches, pergolas, patios, and many other outdoor-living amenities.
“Magazines and factors such as Home and Garden Television (HGTV) started showcasing the term and all that it could entail,” Harold says. “Then the recession hit, but people still had the bug to expand their spaces outdoors.”
The benefits of being in a franchise situation have worked well for the Crosses, Harold points out. “We get training in business, sales, construction, and marketing, which is invaluable. We have national support relationships with industry leaders such as CPG Building Products (Azek and TimberTech) and Belgard Hardscapes. Also, we get great marketing support, such as websites and national exposure. Also, there’s the important credibility factor.” Plus, he says, clients get another layer of warranty above the local level. And as local owners, the Crosses learn so much from their cohorts around the country.
The idea expands
These days, of course, outdoor living is so much more than a deck. “People are staying longer in their homes, and they want to expand their options and make the most of their space,” Harold says. “They like their location and their neighbors and don’t necessarily want to move, so they stay and update.”
For homeowners, the options are abundant when it comes to their choices for outdoor living selection and design.
- Covered spaces. Building a roof over a deck or patio has been the biggest change of the past few years. Some want spaces for dining, seating, and cooking; others are happy with basic functional spaces to entertain family and friends.
- Outdoor kitchens. Harold says amenities such as outdoor kitchens have expanded the base of outdoor living. “Some, of course, want a full kitchen with built-in grill, beverage refrigerators, and other amenities; others just want countertop serving space.”
- Low maintenance. Low maintenance is a key factor in the enjoyment of outdoor spaces. Locally, Archadeck provides “pro-level” support with CPG Building Products. “The technology has grown so much over the years in both aesthetic and performance areas,” Harold says.
- Fire features, lighting. Fire features, too, have become an integral part of many outdoor-living remodeling projects, especially the addition of outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. Lighting also has become an interesting component, especially soft, indirect lighting to add ambience.
- Mixed textures. A huge addition has been mixing textures with stone and wood. “From columns, retaining walls, seating walls, and the use of veneer stone, homeowners can achieve a variety of looks,” he points out. “It’s such a good way to get wonderful return on the value of the project.”
Archadeck encourages homeowners to do their planning in the winter so they can enjoy their new outdoor spaces in the spring. “We can for sure build in the winter,” Harold says. “We don’t have to wait until spring.”
It’s not surprising that Archadeck’s focus is easy and inviting: Life. Outdoors.
As its website (Central-Iowa.Archadeck.com) advises: Go outside and play.