My younger brother’s wife has the perfect personality for a remodeling client. She’s cheerful, easygoing, and can find humor in any situation. Elan wears her waist-length hair in a single braid and prefers to go without makeup, even at her wedding, which took place in the middle of the woods. She and my brother bought a condo last fall and are now remodeling the master bathroom.
Elan and Don are in their early 30s and, while she may be a little further out than most on the granola spectrum, her deep commitment to a mindful, socially responsible life is increasingly common today, especially among Millennials. Elan’s mindset affects every choice the couple makes as consumers, including their selection of a remodeler.
In the past few years, many major American companies have recalibrated their identities—or at least their marketing—with Elan’s priorities in mind. In some cases that mixture of capitalism and social consciousness hasn’t worked so well. For example, Etsy, the environmentally friendly seller of all things handmade, has struggled since it went public. That’s because the company has two fundamentally opposing goals: increasing profitability for shareholders and “sharing a collective vision of an economy based on community,” according to Etsy’s IPO filing.
But it’s different for remodelers and other private firms. Look at Neil Kelly. The Portland-based design-build company has annual revenue of more than $27 million and leads the industry in sustainable practices. Neil Kelly even became a B Corp a few years ago, meaning the company is certified as meeting strict performance standards for social responsibility and environmental stewardship.
But what about remodelers who are nowhere near Neil Kelly in size or scope? How can smaller companies participate in this cultural shift?
One answer may be seen in the way Synergy Design & Construction does business. The Virginia-based remodeler practices a sort of mindfulness with its customers that owners Mark and Mina Fies broadly refer to as “interior alignment.” Rather than emphasizing larger, more global principles, the Fieses are committed to helping homeowners tap into their hearts. They encourage each client to think about his or her deeper intention for a space, and how that aligns with the way the clients want to live.