The idea of a renovation or creating a room from scratch might overwhelm homeowners as thoughts of general contractors, construction and delays come to mind. It may come as a surprise to many that the process doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
Beton Builders strives to provide an enjoyable process for clients during renovations through constant collaboration. “I am going to do everything in my power to make this an enjoyable process,” says Iwona Herdzik, founder and CEO of the New York-based contracting firm. “I want this to be like they are going to the store and buying shoes, a new dress or a car. I want that feeling to be the same with construction.”
Growing a Reputable Firm
Owning her own contracting firm was not a consideration for Herdzik until the early 2000s, when the president of Christie’s auction house gave her a push in that direction. Herdzik was working with the president of Christie’s on a project for another company and the president suggested she open her own firm. At the next meeting the two had, the president of Christie’s showed Herdzik a business card mock-up she could use for her company. The seed was planted in her mind and she took off. Herdzik quit her job, bought a house and started her own company – Beton Builders. “I don’t think it gets crazier than that,” Herdzik says. “I don’t even know how it started, but 12 years later, I am here.”
The growth of the company was very organic, she adds. After overcoming her initial fear of adding employees due to a concern she wouldn’t make payroll, Beton Builders now has 20 employees with a variety of knowledge bases. “I love, love, love every employee,” Herdzik says. “They are my babies; a lot of them grew up with the company. All the management positions are filled with people who grew with the positions. I never hired an outside manager; they grew with the company.”
Building a positive reputation in the community is key to gaining and keeping clients. General contractors are often the ones to bear the brunt for delayed projects or going over budget but Herdzik says she has never been to blame for either. She prides her business on the fact that it has never delayed a single project. “People have a bad taste in their mouths about construction,” Herdzik says. “We are one of the best companies when it comes to schedules. General contractors are blamed for delayed projects and going over budget but my experience is different.”
Beton Builders gets to work on a project once the architect has created an approved rendering. Herdzik creates illustrations on how each step of construction will look. “The architect’s drawing shows the entrance; what we show is how we are going to get there,” she explains.
Upon approval of the plans for a project, Herdzik purchases every piece of material that is needed – within the first two weeks. A weekly progress meeting is scheduled and the client is invited to determine whether any tweaks or upgrades are needed.
“I get excited talking about projects,” Herdzik says. “It’s the most personal thing I get to be involved with; I’m building someone’s home. It doesn’t get more personal than that.”
Modern Notion in Renovating
Herdzik says the economy is to blame for the current frame of mind that things should be done at half the cost and half the time. “People are cautious of how they spend money,” she explains. “Their expectations did not adjust to what they spent. They want the best but don’t want to pay for the best.”
To combat this way of thinking, she has come up with a plan to spread cost over time for clients. Staging projects can be a way to complete a project to a client’s expectations affordably but it takes longer. “I care for my clients and I want to make sure they get what they pay for and then some,” she says.
Beton protects clients’ overall investments by working from the insides of a room – electric, plumbing, etc. – out. If those are not up to code, clients should make that the priority. “Hold off on expensive carpet and do the things you don’t want to do twice,” Herdzik says. “That’s the way to get a good, quality product.”