Capstone Construction focuses on homeowners’ needs during insurance restoration and prides itself on delivering high-quality work every time. By Janice Hoppe-Spiers
Whether it is an act of Mother Nature that causes a tree to fall on the roof of one’s home or a broken pipe that floods the basement while you’re on vacation, Capstone Construction is there for homeowners when disaster strikes. As insurance restoration specialists, “we work for the customers, not for the insurance companies,” owner Pat Cummings says. “I’m serving you.”
Cummings founded the Spokane, Wash.-based company in 1990 – a little more than a decade after he got started in the industry as a framer. His career led him to insurance restoration of commercial and residential buildings, which today is Capstone’s bread-and-butter. In addition, Capstone also offers remodeling and new home construction services.
Capstone started 26 years ago with six employees and has grown to employ around 50 people today. “We have nine crews, which means this last year it’s been crazy,” Cummings explains. “We have nine different crews with each performing about 10 jobs at a time. Last year on Nov. 17, a huge storm came through with 117-mile-per-hour winds that resulted in roof and structure damage to houses. We took 400 calls in two days. When there is a fire or flood, that’s how we get our jobs and those things are happening every day.”
Creating a Culture
The company’s workforce is split into contents and structure crews. Contents crews pack up all the damaged household items and digitally catalogue everything. “We take pictures of individual items as they are being packed up and number them so we know where everything is while it is loaded into six-foot-tall crates stacked three high in our warehouse,” Cummings explains. “The contents crews then clean what is cleanable and sometimes we restore an antique table that has a burn mark, for example.”
After all the household items are removed, Capstone’s structure crews begin rebuilding the home. “All of our employees work right for us,” Cummings notes. “We hire all our own employees; I interview them myself. We like this business model because we create a culture here that promotes who we are and what we believe.”
Crew members are cross-trained to perform multiple tasks on the jobsite, but Capstone does hire subcontractors to perform the electrical, HVAC and plumbing work. “A lot of franchise companies will hire subs because they don’t keep employees,” Cummings says. “We like our model better because you get the same result every time. We can perform the work as well or better than companies we could hire, so we do pretty much everything ourselves.”
Capstone prides itself on being an in-house company because it can ensure greater customer service. “If you had a fire, would you want someone that the insurance company recommends or would you rather have someone you call to come in?” Cummings asks. “There’s good and bad on either side, but if your insurance company suggests someone, they are beholden to the guy who refers them. That’s not what we do. We help them understand the grey areas and fight to get you what you have coming. We are experts in insurance restoration and do it every day.”
‘Dream the Big Dreams’
As Capstone looks to the future, the company continuously strategizes to stay relevant and profitable. The company recently revamped its website to gain greater marketshare and is focused on acquiring more water restoration projects.
Capstone hosts continuing education classes for insurance agents that helps them keep their licenses current and allows the company an opportunity to develop deeper relationships with agents in the area. “We have 258 agents that come here and take the class and get credits through the state,” Cummings says. “We are building a relationship with all these agents who have the clients that we hope to work for.”
Moving forward, Cummings’ sons will take control of the company in the next few years. “I had a partner for 20 years and he retired about three-and-a-half years ago,” Cummings says. “I bought his half and sold his half to my three boys, Shay, Adam and Jason Cummings. They have been in the business since high school and college, so they are running things around here. In another few years they will buy my half, move forward and dream the big dreams.”