We Americans love our celebrities. Why should remodelers be any different? Certain people in the industry are watched by everybody else. Take Rosie Romero, founder of Legacy Custom Builders in Scottsdale, Ariz. He's a regular speaker at industry seminars and conferences and a mentor to remodelers throughout the country. He's as respected for his business philosophy as he is for his good-natured, big-hearted personality.
There's always the question with a celebrity of whether reality aligns with the public face. I am pleased to report that when it comes to Rosie and to Legacy, it does.
But one great leader does not a great company make. As impressive as the front man himself is the team of people, from leaders to managers to role players, who are the heart and soul of the company. It has been a rough year for them. Like many other large design/build firms, Legacy has had a big sales drop-off in 2002. The changing market, coupled with a few big mistakes, called for a major restructuring of the company and an increased focus on efficiency, accountability and profitability. New managers with new ideas were hired. Some employees were let go. Others didn't like the changing culture and left. Those who bought into the new vision are engineering a turnaround.
Not that this was a bad company, mind you. Largely on the strength of the work it took Legacy to achieve "The Impossible Promise" ("A Promise's Foundation," March 2000 PR), Legacy received a 1999/2000 National Remodeling Quality Gold Award. The promise - each job on time to the client's satisfaction, or it's free - remains part of the Legacy culture, although almost no customers have committed to their part in the process. (Surprised?)
Yet even a remodeling company at this level can continue to improve, and Legacy has. It has been a team effort, which isn't recognized enough in remodeling. That's why the 2002 Remodeler of the Year award goes to Legacy Custom Builders - the company, not any one individual. All these employees share Romero's entrepreneurial spirit, and many have owned a business, providing them with a thorough understanding of business challenges.
In fact, three of those employees became owners of Legacy this year, with Romero retaining just a small interest. That they moved ahead with their succession plan in the middle of so much change makes Legacy all the more impressive and proves it is truly a company the rest of the industry should continue to watch.