For owner Edward Augustine, starting his home remodeling business in a small closet of his home with only a few thousand dollars saved up wasn’t ideal, but he found ways to make it work. With himself as the lone sales representative alongside only one other employee, Augustine sold and completed his first job in January of 1992. And he’s only looked forward since.
A quarter of a century later, Augustine’s successful business that specializes in exterior home remodeling employs 400 non-union workers at seven separate locations.
Covering most of Virginia and a portion of North Carolina, Paramount Builders was incorporated in 1991 with a focus primarily on providing windows, trim and siding to customers. Over the past 10 years, the company has incorporated roofing into that mix as well, which now generates more than half of their volume.
“The roofing business gave us an opportunity for growth and more opportunities for employment,” said Vice President of Operations Bob Shackford.
Paramount Builders’ business model emphasizes the importance of finding and retaining quality, hardworking employees who aid in producing a smooth sales process for customers. Given the workforce challenges facing the roofing industry, it’s safe to say that good employees are worth putting in the extra effort to keep around. And that’s the exact philosophy that Augustine established over the past 25 years.
Taking Care of Their People
The heart of any business begins and ends with the owner. Successful business owners are able to care deeply about both the success of the company, as well as the well-being of employees. The management team at Paramount Builders takes employee appreciation to a whole new level.
Employee appreciation days are scattered throughout the year and include trips to various theme parks, cookouts and other social gatherings. A “Crew of the Month” award is given out to recognize installers for their hard work. With installation teams who have been around since the company’s inception, it’s a great way to challenge employees while making them aware of the high standards Paramount has set.
“Employee appreciation days build strong relationships that aren’t just about work. As a family owned business, our company is made up of people with families and those families are an extension of our family here at Paramount,” said Shackford, who started with the company in 1995 as a sales representative.
Shortly after being promoted to vice president of the company’s central division in 2007, Shackford stepped in to help fill the void following the loss of the corporate vice president of operations. Now, nine years later, Shackford has settled into his role, and he along with four other vice presidents aid in making sure the company’s seven locations operate efficiently.
With the mentality in place that happy employees lead to happy customers, Paramount’s company mission to, “Improve our community one home at a time,” is placed at the forefront of all jobs.
“We want our customers to receive ‘gold glove’ treatment, and to feel that they received a value from a locally owned company,” Shackford said. And the company’s track record demonstrates its commitment to customers.
In addition to being featured in several publications, Paramount Builders has been named a GAF President’s Award winner, a 10-time Preservation Dealer of the year and a Top 500 Company in Qualified Remodeler Magazine.
Holding a Higher Standard
Paramount’s focus on strictly residential work allows for its crews to complete all jobs to the highest quality standards. An eight-person production department conducts routine quality control checks on all installations, and trained sales representatives are instructed to follow up with homeowners when a job is completed. This gives the Paramount team a chance to assess each job thoroughly and sort through what went well and what could have gone better.
“We believe you can build a better company by perfecting your system. Our customers are our best source for developing better processes,” Shackford said.
With a commitment to customers that runs deep, Paramount has stayed true to their business model over the past 25 years, hiring employees who match the vision of the company and understand the need to provide the best quality products and services. Augustine knew when he started his roofing business that although he wouldn’t be the cheapest in town, he would provide the best materials and installation services at an honest price. And by partnering with large manufacturers like GAF and Allied, Augustine’s vision has stayed true over the years.
“When you have a strong reputation in the community by proving yourselves to be trustworthy and provide professional work, the customers feel confident and know that they are in good hands,” Shackford said. And their reputation speaks for itself, acquiring a great deal of business from word-of-mouth referrals and holding an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
In addition to providing quality workmanship to customers, safety is also highly regarded at Paramount. The team holds regular safety meetings that reiterate procedures in detail. Installers participate in annual certification training provided by manufacturers to ensure everyone is up to speed on changing regulations and installation guidelines.
20th Anniversary Surprise
When asked to describe an awesome experience that one has had at their job, you’re likely to hear different versions of the same answer. Bonuses, company milestones, personal achievements, and special events all come to mind. However, at Paramount, several employees are fortunate enough to have shared an experience none will likely ever forget.
Employees knew that a celebration was in order when Paramount reached its 20th anniversary in December 2011. However, they were unaware of just how big the celebration would become.
Augustine hosted a special black-tie event for his employees and their guests, and later in the evening, got up on stage to make what most thought would be a short congratulatory speech. He began the speech by elaborating on his desire to first make a million dollars, and then to later save a million dollars. Employees were shocked when Augustine concluded his speech exclaiming, “And tonight – I want to give away a million dollars.” That night, Augustine gave away $1 million to his team. Every employee from newest to oldest was awarded a portion of the unimaginable gift.
“He didn’t have to do it, he did it because that is the kind of owner he is. He expects his employees to go the extra mile and in return, he rewards their hard work and dedication,” Shackford said.
Augustine kept the surprise a secret, letting only his wife and vice president of administration in on it. Shackford said employees were crying and hugging in amazement following the announcement.
“If a company can’t take the time to recognize the hard work of its people, they are not going to stick around. We invest in our people,” he said.