West Des Moines firm is one of two Iowa firms recognized this year.
Remodeling magazine has been recognizing the best of the best in the remodeling industry since 1986 with its Big50 award. Like many other industry accolades, the award acknowledges the expertise of its recipients.
But the Big50 is much more. And that’s why Ben and Stephanie Trannel were exceptionally honored to be named to the 2016 class.
“The Big50 is a building excellence award,” Ben says. “It’s one of the few industry awards that’s not purely about volume.”
Companies nominated for the recognition must undergo multiple interviews, financial evaluations, customer references, and more.
The process is extensive, according to Ben, which made the honor even more significant, especially because Red House was one of only two Iowa firms recognized for 2016. In fact, in the 30 years since the award began, only 18 companies in Iowa have been named to the list.
“It’s a one-time thing. Once you’ve been named to the list, that’s it,” Ben explains.
“The 50 firms that we’re honoring this year as being at the top of the game represent just 0.02% of all remodeling and specialty contracting firms with payrolls,” according to Craig Webb, editor in chief of Remodeling. “So it is a rare distinction to reach Big50 status. The Big50 selection process has become increasingly rigorous in recent years, and the result is one of the strongest classes to date.”
The editors noted that the 2016 inductees “all share high standards and a determination to excel—taking the opportunity to build efficiencies into their systems and processes—ensuring that they are posed to meet their sales, production, and customer-service goals and continue to thrive.”
One key goal for Red House Remodeling since the business began seven years ago was to see the business as more than a way to make a living.
“We try to be a good happy medium for both our clients and our employees,” explains Ben. “We want to be large enough to have employees who stay on a project all the time, but small enough that we can maintain the level of attention and customer satisfaction we’re committed to.”
Stephanie adds, “We’ve each worked for big employers before, and we don’t want to focus on the whole 9 to 5 routine. We make it a comfortable environment for our employees to get their job done, and we hire a level of staff that has the same commitment we do.”
That attitude is one of the characteristics that set Red House apart for Remodeling’s editors. Ben told the publication, “What we’ve really tried to focus on is being large enough that people can specialize. Every year our goal is to make this a tough place to leave.”
One way the Trannels do that is by offering staff paid holidays and vacations as well as health insurance and a retirement plan. They also try to include many other small perks, including schedule flexibility, recognition lunches, and other team-building activities.
“It’s a big commitment to have full-time employees in this industry,” says Stephanie. “And it’s very important to us as remodeling specialists to have exceptional staff. It’s hard to find the caliber of people who meet the criteria we expect.”
Another feature that the Trannels believe sets them apart is their 100% design/build approach to every project. “We learned early on that we can be so much more successful in satisfying customers and getting done on time and on budget when we slow the customer down a bit to plan the process and really manage the details effectively,” Ben says.
One way they’ve been able to do that is by educating both their own customers and the public through seminars held at their West Des Moines offices. “We offer free seminars, typically kitchen- and bath-focused,” explains Stephanie. “We do a lot of education, not just on what to expect from a project but what it means to work with a design/build professional.”
The Trannels say it’s this personal connection that is really at the heart of their success.
“The Big50 award means more than just how much you sell,” says Ben. “Compared to some of the other recipients on this year’s list, we look like a really young company. But I’d rather be successful at the level where we can be profitable and have happy customers than sell twice as much and not be able to meet our customers’ needs and give them the attention we want to give.”
Remodeling magazine says the Big50 honors firms that “set exceptionally high standards for professionalism and integrity through exemplary business practices, craftsmanship, and impact in their community or the industry at large.”
That’s exactly what Ben and Stephanie Trannel set out to achieve at Red House Remodeling.