The Alimond Show

Christopher Miller of Miller Integrity Construction

October 05, 2023 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Christopher Miller of Miller Integrity Construction
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever dreamed of evolving a small business into a thriving enterprise? Our guest today, the mastermind behind Miller Integrity Construction, walks us through his remarkable journey. He transformed his humble handyman operation into a robust business, taking on grand-scale historic renovations and custom home constructions. Brace yourself for an awe-inspiring tale that starts just days before the pandemic and showcases a business that has flourished against the odds.

Get ready to uncover the ins and outs of transitioning from handyman work to large-scale renovation construction. Our guest enlightens us on his move from California to expand his father's business, and how his passion for local projects fueled his success. He shares his winning strategies, particularly local marketing and networking, that gave his business the boost it needed. As a cherry on top, he also provides valuable tips on team building and what to look for when hiring. This episode is a treasure trove of insights for both curious minds interested in the construction industry and small business owners who are eager to grow locally!

Speaker 1:

Did that hold you out your business?

Speaker 2:

Miller Integrity Construction. I ended up officially opening the doors three days before the pandemic.

Speaker 1:

Oh, wow.

Speaker 2:

And so one of the complaints I always heard was that there was no handyman ever available. They always did shoddy work. And so I wanted to change that perspective here in Lowndown County and so I took a step of faith of starting the business to kind of get that up and rolling with long-term goals of becoming something larger in construction. And so today now we're doing a historical restoration of a home built in 1780. We've built a custom home.

Speaker 1:

Where's that at? Where's the?

Speaker 2:

1780?.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's 1780.

Speaker 2:

That one's up in Stumptown just by Luckets Okay cool, cool, cool cool. So our main primary goal still is to serve the people of Lowndown County, but more on the construction industry side, and we'll still do some handyman stuff as well.

Speaker 1:

That's cool. So what's like been the biggest change between the handyman stuff to like the renovation construction piece?

Speaker 2:

I'd say the biggest change is when you're working on. Owners have different ideas and different visions. So on some of the renovation stuff you don't necessarily have a set of plans, you have a vague idea and you kind of sketch something up, get the permits pulled. But it's trying to make sure that at the end the client is happy with what they've received, and so like on the 1780 home, we were purposely wrapping all the structural repairs we've done with Cedar to help make it still look like it's all from 1780. So it's just trying to have that balance of pleasing the client how it looks but also still trying to keep things, maintain the integrity.

Speaker 1:

Yes, Very cool, all right. So in terms of like how you got into this, like what were you doing before you even got into, like the handyman work or construction.

Speaker 2:

So I grew up in construction. My dad started his own business in 1984. Okay and reason I'm from California. I moved out here almost.

Speaker 1:

You had a little bit of California vibe to you, so that's perfect yeah.

Speaker 2:

About nine years ago we moved out here because my brother expanded my dad's business out here and it was an interior commercial company and so I knew always wanting to do construction. I got a degree in construction management and out here I did some of the interior finishouts of hospitals like 7th Dave, ventus and Silver Springs UVA down in Charlottesville, mission Hospital down in Asheville, north Carolina, and with those big projects I was always away from home and as my family continued to grow, I knew I wanted to step out and try to focus more locally and be there with my family more.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome. I love that, and now you get to like have the best of both worlds, right.

Speaker 2:

Yes, all right.

Speaker 1:

So you've worked with these really big companies and now you're going to super local companies as well, or individuals. It sounds like.

Speaker 2:

We have our first commercial job that we'll be doing soon. We're pulling the permits on it right now.

Speaker 1:

Are you allowed to talk about?

Speaker 2:

that one, yeah, I can which one? Is it? They're gonna add in an extra little hair salon booth at the Hammer Nail in Leesburg Village. Oh cool. So we're just gonna do a little bit of remodel in there so that a new booth can actually fit in there, so they can have more hair stylists.

Speaker 1:

I love that very, very cool. What's been something that in terms of going from the big to super local? If you were talking to another business owner and they were like, how do you make that transition? How do you get the clients? What's one little secret to your success on the marketing or the sales end? What's something that you could share with them?

Speaker 2:

Do local marketing.

Speaker 1:

And how do you do that Sounds amazing.

Speaker 2:

So I did two different things. One was the first thing I did. Originally I was gonna go door to door, but the pandemic hit so no one would wanna open the door. Good point, so I got in with the local newspaper, ok.

Speaker 1:

Which one?

Speaker 2:

Someone across the street. That's the A lot of times. Yeah, yes, OK cool. So I got in and I still have an ad in it to this day and I get phone calls on it all the time. That's how I got the custom home. Someone called me from the ad. I didn't even have a Class A license yet. I said, yeah, I could probably do that. I got to just upgrade my license, got it upgraded and we then built the custom home. Wow.

Speaker 1:

So you're a man who doesn't have to wait for everything to be perfect. You're like where there's a will, there's a way I'm gonna make it happen.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

Very cool. Ok, so in terms of there's newspaper marketing for you advertising, any other tips or any other suggestions for small business owners who are looking to grow locally?

Speaker 2:

Locally. I'm with a business networking group called B&I and I found them beneficial at least definitely within my trade system of being able to market, tell people what you're doing and how you can serve them and everything. And it seems like with that business networking it's really helped grow via locally as well.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. How many years have you been with B&I? Four months.

Speaker 2:

About two and a half years.

Speaker 1:

OK, see, you put your time in. Yeah, so I used to be a part of that and it was definitely a lot of time and energy that you've got to dedicate to it.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it is, but I have found it rather beneficial.

Speaker 1:

It really helped jumpstart my business as well. So I do recommend it for new business owners, people who are looking to really get to know their other local business owners, because that's the whole point is, those are the people that are in the room. Are other owners, not necessarily like the team members or employees, but speaking of team members, how are you on that front?

Speaker 2:

We are always looking for more carpenters and people who want to grow a career. When I first started out the business, it was just an hourly rate. Well, now, today, we have some paid holidays, earned vacation time, a retirement system set up and, with future goals, to add in health insurance as well. So we continue to try to look more attractive. Because the big companies, it's easy for them to provide those. As a small guy, it's a little more difficult and you have to slowly work yourself into those situations.

Speaker 1:

I totally get it. I was on the same type of trajectory of can I just get somebody to work for me? And then now it's at that point of, ok, I need to be attractive because I want to be attracting the right types of candidates and grow the right team.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. It's a fun thing to try to figure out. It's a little more over, I mean turn around than you really want, especially in construction, and you never know what's going to happen. But I've got a great PM now and got some great workers and we're continuing to grow, so it's great.

Speaker 1:

Quick question what's something because I know a lot of business owners, they are hiring and they're growing and it's so hard to bring on the right team members what's something that you look for when you're growing your team, when you're interviewing people or getting to know someone?

Speaker 2:

This year I hired the wrong person and it hurt pretty bad. Luckily, after that person I had to end up letting them go. I brought in someone else. They were eager and he was the right guy and it's really nice to see how just the other employees are really attracted to him and his leadership qualities and he knew a lot of things. Nice thing was he was a car a Journeyman plumber for 18 years, okay, and he wanted to get more into general construction and he was definitely the right choice. But it was just communication, making sure their personalities are good and they actually know what they're doing.

Speaker 1:

I think that's a big thing. Right is being able to have like the best of all the worlds. You want a good personality, you want the competency level to be at a standard that's gonna help the team grow, and then they need to have those good leadership skills.

Speaker 2:

Right the trifecta exactly, but there's always a risk when you hire someone, because you just don't know. Like I mentioned, I had the one guy for seven weeks and it was a huge mistake. Yeah, you know leadership qualities and it just it was difficult. Yeah but then you get the right person, then next thing you know you start seeing things blossom and it's really great.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm a person and I think that's so important because it's hard when you're a small business owner and then you are like, okay, need help, and you just start hiring somebody. That is. The hardest thing is like, you know, you don't have the grants that a lot of bigger companies have. You don't have necessarily the loans that you know it's easy just to like work over. It's like no, no, I have to put aside, you know, at least six months of pay for this person. So you want it to be the right person that's gonna help you grow right what are a couple of. Just give me, like off the top of your head to red flags that if you do hire somebody new, just to kind of look out for these things, since you just recently went through it.

Speaker 2:

Couple Red flags is especially in construction. You know if the person is showing up in tore jeans or shirts that aren't very Nice, across writings and stuff on it, you know offensive language language exactly. You know they're not gonna fit in with the clientele you're going for. Yeah, you know it's best to not bring them on. They might be really great but at the same time, a what you and I are doing communication personality you got to make sure you have everything, even with the skill set. So there's that aspect. But then if the person looks great and they have this but they don't lack I mean they lack the skill set that's just hard to tell. You know, you can quiz them on certain things but at the end of the day you kind of have to almost take a risk, but it's a calculated risk.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, yeah it is, and it's hard, but you got to get through it and you learn more and more every time. You do it right.

Speaker 2:

Exactly.

Speaker 1:

All right. So, in terms of like Future goals for your company, where do you see you headed in the next year, five years, ten years? Here in Long County.

Speaker 2:

And then next year. The goal is to continue to move forward within Long County, continue to get more residential and then also start really attacking some. I should use attacking, but Right, we get that, that verbiage like I really want to get more into the commercial background because the commercial is what I really knew as my bread and butter and I still have a passion to get more into the commercial Side of things. So within the next year some of my emphasis of the business to grow is to grow within the commercial industry in Long County.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Well, we need our interiors redone here at the studio. I know my go-to guy now.

Speaker 2:

Five, ten years out. I would love to consider seeing Miller integrity keep growing. You know there's over 300,000 people here in Long County and eventually you're gonna max out in Long County. So as I continue to grow, I would love to continue to grow into Northern Virginia or into the DMV, but within the short term my main focus is still right here in Long County.

Speaker 1:

What's your plans on how you're gonna expand, how you're gonna get out into the other markets?

Speaker 2:

I think the best bet is, as you continue to grow, higher people from that other market, so that when you're ready to start going out, then they're being more closer to home where they're working, so that to them is kind of like oh, I don't have to travel as far, so nice thing is you begin to build your employee base A little farther out and then you can go ahead and open up an office there or run everything from here and then just send them out to their local area.

Speaker 1:

I love that. That's such a smart strategy. Thank you so much. Is there anything else that you would like to add? That maybe is special news or upcoming Announcements or anything that's special to you or your company?

Speaker 2:

I wouldn't say so. I just it's just, it's an exciting process is to continue to grow, and it's not easy. Some people think, oh, you must just sit in your chair and bring in the money. I'm like, oh no, as a business owner, it's one of the hardest things to do. I'm always, I'm only at my office, typically from you know about 7, 30 to 5, 6 o'clock or something. But when I'm still at home, I'm still sending text to employees. I'm still kind of scoping out what the next step is and starting to plot.

Speaker 1:

But In your mental space, you're always thinking about business, which is a curse sometimes when you're trying to like be home with family.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, very true. So but no, I think think Miller integrity, what we're doing and the way I've started it, I think I'm on the right track and I'm excited to see where this will be and you know, 10, 15 years, because I've got three kids and I would love to be. If they want to go into construction, I want to make sure it's so established that all three of them could, if they want to one day, work within Miller integrity or own it One day.

Speaker 1:

So I love that very cool. Well, thank you so much for being a part of this podcast, and I can't wait to share your story with our audience.

Speaker 2:

Thank you.

From Handyman to Renovation Construction
Building a Successful Construction Company