There's no such thing as balance, says Josh McDermott. Whether it be between work and life, individual health or family time, “A balanced life is BS,” says the owner of JT McDermott Remodeling Contractors in St. Louis and Belleville, Ill.
This untraditional outlook on life and work reveals McDermott’s business philosophy, one that took years of personal reckoning and difficult decisions, guided by full transparency and a holistic approach to leadership.
Another Number in Corporate America
As a second-generation owner, McDermott spent summers in high school cleaning jobsites and working on projects for his father. Though the option of entering the family business was an attractive choice, uncertainty and curiosity for the unknown led him down a new route.
McDermott obtained his general business degree and headed into pharmaceutical sales for the next five years. Here, he faced a traditional, corporate experience: project management, sales training, and ultimately, discovering he was another number.
“I was just done not being in charge of my own destiny to that degree,” says McDermott. “And I really missed small business and I missed the challenge of solving the problems that come up in small business.”
Relationships and witnessing a project come to life were two more factors pulling McDermott back to remodeling. He returned as business manager in 2010, and after a few years under his belt, decided with his father to begin an ownership transition strategy.
Bringing In a Business Background
Where McDermott brought in traditional management training, his father brought in passion for people and love of construction. It’s what initially pushed his father to open the company back in 1984, and aligns with many business owners’ entrances into the industry. Those values remained with McDermott, but he now had a drive to raise standards even higher.
McDermott Remodeling was no stranger to the ebbs and flows of profitability, much like other small businesses. Once McDermott finished purchasing the company in 2015, it became his mission to end the cyclicality of profitability and establish ways to create more security.
The first order of business included trimming down offerings to create a stronger focus on desired projects. Previously, the company “did everything under the sun,” as McDermott puts it. That included HVAC, handyman services, and waterproofing.
The business transitioned into a design-build model shortly after, and McDermott began charging for design in 2015. With this new model, the company now averages a $110,000 ticket for larger kitchen and bathroom projects.
It’s Not About Balance, It’s About Harmony
While the business aspects and numbers were more familiar, McDermott realized that what he loved about small business—the relationships—was one of the hardest challenges.
While his motto remains that balance does not exist, harmony was needed between running the business successfully and keeping employees, clients, his family, and himself happy. With all aspects viewed holistically, each area benefits another.
This holistic approach resulted in McDermott seeking more investment in the form of peer business groups and investment in personal betterment in order to learn more intrinsically and in the business.
It also opened an answer to keeping his team strong personally and professionally: opening up the books. Each month, the team knows gross profit and net profit, plus a forecast of what’s to come.
“I was carrying all of that weight and all that anxiety, and my team wouldn’t necessarily understand, ‘What do you mean things aren’t going right?’ or they couldn’t see. I realized that they didn’t have the information to do their jobs, because I was hiding it from them,” says McDermott. “They don’t know that a job didn’t perform well, or that we didn’t do enough in a volume that month, or whether it was sales or production. How can they get any better?”
McDermott attributes the focus on transparency to COVID’s business scares as well and says it forced him to realize the importance of taking those margins up and aligning the team.
“That’s really just reflective of the team,” he says. “I can’t take credit for that, that’s the people that we have around us. That’s a big component that I do take from what my dad taught me, which is people are really important and making sure that there’s a good strong cohesion within the team, and it’s about a higher standard I’ve held for myself.”
Add new comment
Putting on the Right Hat
Are you a manager, a leader or a boss? The answer may not be as obvious as you think.
Software Company to Award $150,000 to Home Service Company Owners
The grant program is intended to help strengthen small businesses
What Kind of Business Are You In? (Is it Really Remodeling?)
The answer to that question is not as obvious as you might think
A Look at Quiet Quitting
“Quiet quitting” is affecting many industries, including remodeling. Here’s what we can do to combat it.
5 Things To Do About "It"
Although the changing economy and resulting consumer behaviors may feel out of your control, there are still a few impactful things you can do
Does Encouragement Really Matter?
Home improvement industry leader Brian Gottlieb shares the importance of encouragement for any business
Tips to Get Started on Your Exit Strategy
It’s never too early to begin planning the next stage of your life. Industry advisor Mark Richardson offers some tips to get started
Are You a Farmer or a Hunter?
Industry advisor Mark Richardson says that over the last year, there’s been a major shift in the remodeling business from a farming mentality to a hunting skill set
The Argument for a Four Day Remodeling Work Week
The four-day work week has a global spotlight—could it work in remodeling?
How We Nurture Trade Partner Relationships
Here's what the director of production of a $36 million company does to strengthen trade partner relationships