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Home Improvement Success: Luck, Hard Work, or Who You Know?

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Home Improvement Success: Luck, Hard Work, or Who You Know?

Even the most brilliant marketing mind could see fewer opportunities due to lack of networking

By Drew Barto April 17, 2024
Photo: stock.adobe.com

If I started this column by claiming that luck is the source of success for most thriving home improvement professionals, many would write an angry letter to the editor before finishing the first sentence. 

But I’m not that dumb or dishonest. Success in this industry has very little to do with luck. 

Sure, some folks were born into a family business, seemingly starting their careers on third base, but there’s no guarantee that a second or third-generation owner won’t run the company into the ground. It happens all of the time.

Earlier this year, I interviewed a dozen young home improvement professionals for Pro Remodeler’s Forty Under 40 issue. A handful were at the helm of a family business, and each made changes that resulted in unprecedented growth for their long-standing businesses.


How They Found Success

One of those young business owners—Jesse Kreisman of ALCO Products Company—tripled business in a few short years. 

He immediately switched product vendors upon taking control of the company in his mid-twenties. Kreisman also implemented a different sales process and hired a whole new team of employees. 

“It’s essentially a new business,” admits Kreisman. “All of our employees are new. We’re working with different vendors. We’ve transformed everything.”

Montana Graboyes, executive VP of Graboyes Window & Door, doubled revenue. Before becoming a key decision-maker at the business, her parents required her to work multiple roles at the business. 

Once she stepped into a leadership role in her thirties, she immediately made educated changes based on lessons learned while also incorporating more modern technology and marketing tactics. 

“We’ve got this great legacy,” Graboyes says. “But when the pandemic happened, my brother and I sat down and decided we were going to act like a startup. All of the old systems were out the window.”

Yet another thirtysomething business owner—Woody Priest of Burr Roofing, Siding, & Windows—saved a failing family business by operating it as lean as possible to become profitable. The business now has an annual compound growth rate of nearly 30%.

“Be deliberate,” advises Priest. “As you grow and evolve, know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and be true to yourself.”

None of the aforementioned success stories of second-generation businesses were the result of luck. All required hard work.


Hard Work is Relationship Building

Outsiders of the industry often look to relationship building as a source of luck for home improvement professionals.

It’s easy for someone to suggest that growing a successful business or receiving career opportunities comes down to who you know. But who you know is often the result of years of building relationships with industry peers. 

That’s strategic and time-consuming. But it pays off. (Looking to find a space for connecting with like-minded peers? Check out The Pinnacle Experience this June.)

The slightly above-average marketing mind with an expansive professional network will have more opportunities than the most brilliant marketing mind with no built bonds with others.

The same can be said for any person in any field.

If you feel stuck and are waiting on luck to save you, you’re going to be disappointed. And even if you’re working hard in the day-to-day of your business or on your primary tasks, you need to ask yourself if you’re doing enough to create your luck by growing your network.

The right time and the right place are achieved through making the right decisions.

One of the most important decisions you can make for yourself or your business is to make more connections. It’s hard work, too. But it will set you up for more success in your future.


written by

Drew Barto

Drew Barto is director of home improvement for Pro Remodeler. He most recently served as the Director of Marketing at Energy Swing Windows in Pittsburgh. Contact him at dbarto@sgcmail.com or 412-607-7820.

Comments (1)

  • Submitted by Beau R. (not verified) on Fri, 04/19/2024 - 10:09


    Such a great and well written article by Dave Barto. It's almost impossible to get anywhere in life without the help and goodwill of others. Thank you Dave.

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