Full House Renovations Celebrates 25 Years Tearing down the old and building up something new has worked physically and metaphorically for this unique company. By Nerissa McNaughton
arry Jaenen’s experience with home renovations goes back to his childhood. His parents were in the window business and he would go door to door providing estimates. With a natural ability to foresee a finished product, Jaenen started giving clients advice on what renovations would improve the look and value of their homes. “For years clients would say, ‘why not get into the reno business?’” laughs Jaenen. “So I did!” When Full House Renovations launched, Jaenen was the sole owner and operator. To get the jobs done, he hired subcontractors. Two years later he had enough steady work to fill a 40-hour week, so he hired his first full-time employee. As it turned out, envisioning and executing great renovations wasn’t Jaenen’s only talent. His hiring prowess was, and still is, spot on. Twenty-five years on, some of his earliest hires are still with the company. Today’s staff of over 35 employees includes custom cabinet shop workers, office staff and field workers. Garent Selby is Full Houses Renovations’ longest-term employee and has been with the company for more than 23 years. His first position was as a cabinet installer. “He’s handy!” says Jaenen. “Now he comes in at the end and can do everything! Plumbing, electrical, cabinets, finishing…. he’s good at all of it, from having grown up on a farm in Saskatchewan. The clients now actually call and ask for him by name.” Partners Ken Horhut and Greg Pointe also found careers at Full House Renovations. Horhut started as a finishing carpenter in 1997 and built his way
into a partnership in 2005. Today he oversees all the jobs as head of the operations department. Horhut holds a Red Seal journeyman carpenter certification. Pointe was one of the owners of Woodhaven Construction and sat on the renovation council with Jaenen for multiple years. After selling his construction business, he joined Full House Renovations as a partner. Pointe is the general manager and also helps Jaenen in sales. Jaenen’s hiring philosophy extends out of the field and into the office. His office staff of nine includes many valuable positions, including a full-time controller CMA and a full-time cabinet millwork designer that works with the clients one on one to design their dream kitchen. In January 2014, Full House added a full-time interior designer that deals directly with the clients to help them pick out their selections and finalize the drawings. One solid team, inside and outside of the office, takes care of each client from project commencement to completion. “We employ our own trades and a few handselected sub-trades,” explains Jaenen. “Your typical contractor has all subcontractors, but we employ all the trades on staff as full time employees. This includes our four cabinet makers in our shop, our office staff and 20 very top-skilled trades in the field. It’s huge because you have full control of the schedule and the quality. Our workmanship is consistent.” Consistency is key for Full House Renovations. It’s what Jaenen has built his company and his reputation on. “The biggest problem is there is so much work in Alberta and that people forget
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Kitchen remodel before.
Kitchen remodel after.
about quality and never finish the job.” Some customers figure the contractor that is the cheapest and the fastest is the best, but they quickly learn that cheap and fast does not necessarily translate into quality. Usually, they are the cheapest for a reason. “We get numerous calls each week from people that have thrown other contractors out of their homes. In order to do good work, you have to pay a premium for labour and buy good quality products In construction, like everything else in life, you get what you pay for,” Jaenen chuckles. “If you don’t believe me, watch all those reality TV shows! We’re not the fastest, but we feel we are the best. We would put our product up against anyone in the industry. Our field staff works together as a team, which makes a difference for the finished product.” There was a time when Full House was servicing the whole city and surrounding area, but because of rapid city growth, decided to focus on select areas. Now, Full House concentrates on the west and southwest areas of the city and specializes only in select types of remodel jobs. This streamlined approached paid off. Work volume didn’t decrease, however efficiency improved.
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Part of the success of Full House Renovations comes from their unique ability to understand the needs of their clients, including the transition to being their favourite people to being loathed on site to becoming beloved again. It’s a theme Jaenen has seen played out with many homeowners. When they arrive on site they are the heroes that have come to do a beautiful, new, sparkling renovation. Half way through when the house is torn apart, money is being spent, product delays and extra work added by the client push the project deadline and the homeowners are tired of the wait and the noise, the contractors take the brunt of the frustration for the disruption in the homeowner’s lives. But when the renovation is done, the mess is cleared away and the beautiful, functional new home emerges, the Full House team gains “name our first child after you” status once again. Full House Renovations rides this wave of emotion and does their best to satisfy each and every client. “We’re in a hard business,” says Jaenen. “It’s an emotional rollercoaster.” Another reason Full House Renovations has been successful for more than two decades is because they are not afraid to move ahead with the times. “The industry has changed our business,” Jaenen points out. “Now we have access to products from all over the world. When we started, you could go to a wholesaler, order product, drive to the back of the warehouse, load the truck and drive back to the job site. Today we have the challenges of ordering that same product and waiting anywhere from two to 12 weeks for delivery. Full House used to have an ad in the Yellow Pages; now clients find us on Google. The client can now get educated online about certain things, for example ice damming and condensation inside the home. To our advantage, this helps us. Also, all the reality TV shows about renovations nightmares has made companies such as Full House more respected in the industry.” Full House Renovations opened a new division in 2011. This division (Special Projects) specializes in new homes in old areas (infills) and buying homes in established neighbourhoods, doing a complete remodel, and selling them. An infill home can take up to a year to build. Full House is presently building infills
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Custom Cabinet Shop.
Winner of Sam award & Alberta Awards of Excellence in Housing.
in Crestwood and Glenora; has completed infills in Crestwood and remodel and flips in both Riverbend and Valleyview. Full House is presently doing a remodel and flip in Westridge. Full House Renovations’ focus is on customer service. Greg Pointe works with the team to continually improve client interaction and satisfaction. “We used to do 120 renos a year, but have scaled back to 60 (along with our special projects) so we could remain focused and dedicated to the needs of our clients,” says Jaenen. “At Full House Renovations, it’s all about you – the client!” Jaenen is thankful for the support he’s received over the years from his wife Cathy. Pointe, Jaenen and Horhut would also like to thank all their staff for their hard work and dedication, and extend a heartfelt thank you to all of their suppliers, some of which they have been working with for more than 25 years. Full House Renovations thanks all the customers that supported them for
the last 25 years. “As I said,” confirms Jaenen, “it’s all about them. The business was built on referrals and repeat clients. We are now servicing the second generation.” So would the former window estimator change anything if he could go back in time? To that, Jaenen just smiles, “It’s been a great ride.” Congratulations on 25 outstanding years.
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