Building a Multi Million Dollar Home Remodeling Company with Nathan Svoboda from Wichita Home Works

by | May 6, 2024


In this episode of the Digital Remodeler Podcast, Nathan Svoboda, the president of Wichita Home Works, shares his journey from college to entrepreneurship. Nathan initially planned to start a diesel repair business but shifted to home remodeling due to financial constraints. Starting alone, he gradually built a team and diversified into sister companies. He emphasizes the importance of tracking expenses and hiring the right people. Nathan’s advice for new contractors includes being cautious with spending and avoiding unnecessary debt. For those aiming to grow, he suggests delegating tasks to focus on strengths and scale the business. Nathan continues to strive for personal freedom by reducing his role’s dependency on the company’s success. He concludes with a reminder that entrepreneurship demands perseverance and passion. To learn more, visit Wichita Home Works’ website or find them on social media.


(00:00) hey everyone welcome to the digital remodeler podcast I’m glad you’ve chosen to join us today and with me is Nathan’s Svoboda he is the president of Wichita home works in Wichita Kansas Nathan good to have you with us today you bet thanks for having me absolutely so uh tell us a little bit of your story you you’ve had really phenomenal explosive growth uh in your history but let’s kind of start from the beginning where did you start from and we’ll kind of talk through your journey a little bit
(00:31) yeah so uh uh you know went went to school did the college thing got a business degree um came out of uh you know college knowing that I wanted to do my own uh thing run my own company didn’t know exactly what industry that was going to be in yet um but I uh I you know I started kind of doing some research I actually initially wanted to start a diesel repair um business and I actually built you know a complete business plan for that and then uh even went through the finances and kind of figured out what I
(01:11) thought I needed to get that off the ground uh because it was a a big you know capital expenditure up front so uh once I had that number I was like well now I got to come up with that uh money and so the one thing I knew from just growing up around it and all that sort of thing was remodel and and home Home Improvement type projects uh so I got started with that as a means to uh hopefully um fund the other and uh got started into that got a couple decent sized projects ended up uh realizing that yeah maybe this was what
(01:52) uh I was more uh cut out to be it’s what I knew best and uh so that kind of took off from there and we just started started building off of our our uh successes that we had through that fantastic so when you you started out was it just you did you have anybody else how did you actually get started yeah so first off was just me so I was doing uh sales calls the marketing uh the estimating the project management uh I didn’t have a you know a solid um you know pool of of subcontractors or suppliers yet and uh
(02:31) it also didn’t help that I originally was born and raised in Lincoln Nebraska and so I had just moved down here two three years prior to starting Wichita Home Works so uh didn’t get a whole lot of time to make connections and whatnot to be able to to start the the business so it was a lot of work excellent so so kind of take us you know from those beginning phases um what what’s the journey look like up to this point sure yeah from the very start um you know my goal was to do quality uh work and I didn’t want to start like a lot of other
(03:09) companies do where uh they start as kind of a single trade um contractor and then they find out well I can’t do Roofing you know during the the winter months and so they add uh you know bathroom remodels to it and that sort of thing I always knew I wanted to do the high-end you know uh REM projects from the start so um started marketing towards that got you know my first I can remember my first main floor kitchen remodel that was pretty good size um took a lot of time to make sure I was attentive to detail uh the quality of work and the
(03:50) the experience of the customer was my first priority for the first you know couple years um that was that was a bigger priority than the money was uh and it’s done well now to date um because we were able to build that reputation to get our foot in the door for the higher end uh remodels so went from just me to uh adding in uh my my dad was actually my second employee uh and then it just started kind of building from there I started essentially replacing myself in each position as we went and uh I was able to
(04:28) keep growing our pool of of subcontractors I was able to get busy enough that we hired um a couple in-house remodel Craftsman um and uh yeah um kept kept rolling with it from there uh so today we have I think 12 uh 12 administrative staff three estimators three project managers two designers so yeah quite the uh quite the journey yeah quite the journey so let’s let’s talk a little bit about uh you know how you uh you know grew you you talked about bringing on your dad I know it’s some at one point you you decided
(05:12) to bring in a partner so let’s talk a little bit about that at what point did you decide you needed somebody else U alongside of you instead of just doing it yourself sure yeah so uh I think we were probably four maybe five years in um and got to the point where you know it was uh I was still putting in you know long long hours uh throughout the week uh wasn’t really able to turn things off and um we actually started working with a subcontractor uh his name was Doug and uh just started using him for projects
(05:54) uh started working with him more and more and uh you know eventually got to know him pretty well uh good guy good you know same values um in business and personal life um and so we just started kind of you know we both saw opportunities in each other’s skill sets and so we started um just working off of those and building off of those we went from him being a subcontractor to uh together we started like a kind of more of a handyman or or smaller project type thing where we were part ERS in it um and then that kind of rolled into him
(06:34) always helping with uh you know the production side of things Wichita Home Works and now uh today we because I was able to you know he was able to join us and really add to the team and add to the growth now we have sister companies even um alongside Wichita Home Works that I most likely wouldn’t have been able to do um had I not had a partner um in it so okay perfect a little bit smaller piece of the pie but a lot bigger pie now perfect so now let’s talk about you know you started out you you you did good quality work um how did you how did
(07:19) you make people aware of the kind of work you’re doing you know what what’s been kind of the key to you know getting into that higher-end market MH um so from the very beginning uh referrals are always great um they’re uh uh you know they technically don’t cost a whole lot and uh they hold a lot of weight with the people that are being referred the hard part with referrals is they take a long time to build and to uh for that to really take off and become what you know your business is sustained
(07:59) by so so from the very start um I took advantage of of just you know making sure that I was gathering content from uh our projects in the way of photos videos that sort of thing and I always made sure that I was also a part of those um so that I could build that you know know like and Trust even with people that I hadn’t um actually met in person uh but then also just utilizing social media um to then put that that um content out to everyone so that they could see um and for the first part I started you know just doing kind of the Grassroots
(08:42) you could almost call it you know guerilla marketing I’d go on there and you know follow a bunch of people so that you would get reciprocal follows and I’d like a whole bunch of uh pages and then go back and unlike them and uh I may I don’t know I may have been part of the reason they’ve uh cracked down so hard on a lot of that stuff but I tried to utilize the free you know the free uh methods as much as possible but then we uh you know as I continued to build my team and I was able to take on more uh
(09:16) we grew our capacity and our skill set um then you know we started spending money on it as well uh but um you know working with you guys with Simplicity has been great because it’s uh you know definitely a holistic uh you know marketing plan looking at it from all angles instead of just uh finding someone that just is worried about Google ads and and just Facebook ads that sort of thing I think it definitely uh comes back to just all the different areas that were that people are seeing us that combined uh
(09:55) notoriety is what really has has helped us grow okay good so really having this in your in your mind having this ever presence everywhere you go there you are yep you know type type mixture EXC yeah if I can if I can put a a profile up on anything out there you know we’ve done everything from Angie’s List to you know some of the big box stores have referral uh you know sites and all that sort of thing our goal is just to be out there everywhere we can be excellent so you you bring up a an interesting you know point of
(10:36) conversation a lot of you know business owners struggle with wanting to spend money on their advertising and you know as you’ve looked at your marketing over the years how have how have you you know made peace with that that that there is an expenditure that you’re going to put out there um you know how do you view that how could you help another you know contractor really view Marketing in the bigger picture yeah so uh for sure I think uh it was probably a more General um aspect of the business that I
(11:16) learned that really has helped with all of that so uh I learned you know well it feels like too late always but I learned that or I learned that the numbers really did matter and the costs uh of things and knowing my actual numbers uh within the business was a huge part of of our success so um same goes for so you know the first place I started with that was just within the projects knowing uh each project you know what did we spend on on uh labor what did we spend on materials you know were there any uh you know what things did I miss
(11:58) in the estimate for next time once I started knowing all of those details I was able to get better at it so same thing with marketing um until you are act actually able to track um you know your expenditure with it it can it can sometimes feel like you’re just you know kind of shooting out in the dark and and really you are uh so I think one of the biggest things is just from the start track your results um and uh you know for us we we track that on a regular basis I can see exactly what our our top producing uh
(12:34) lead sources are and how much profit we’ve made from those so I’m able to take what I’ve spent on that and compare it to uh what we’ve earned from it and get a real you know simple um return on investment good and this is another question you can give a lot of insight into how long do you think a a contractor should run a market marketing program to determine its Effectiveness so you know you start ads on a certain platform how long do you think that needs to run man uh you know there’s honestly uh some platforms that I think
(13:14) could even You could argue a year might be a little early um just the way that you know SEO ranking and all of that all of those algorithms that the different search platforms utilize to rank um for sure I would say you know 3 to six months um probably leaning more towards the six months uh just that gives you time to uh go in there put something in place make the adjustments you know for a few months um usually you know I find that it’s a little difficult to um you know really compare a smaller time frame than like a full month
(13:59) but also just due to our industry um Contracting seems to be very cyclical throughout the year so if you don’t get a good you know cross-section of the year and the just es and flows of it uh you could potentially be seeing things that aren’t really there um so yeah I would say six months for sure I think a year can honestly be very beneficial because then you see the full cycle excellent let’s let’s talk through you know the business growth you know a little more so you know you started out it was you your first hire was your dad
(14:39) how did you determine what your next hire should be how how have you made those determinations along the way you know really it came down to what area I was seeing that needed the most Improvement as well as what was you know taking the most of my time um and effort and uh just seeing you know where we need that Improvement um and then going out and finding the right person for that um that kind of almost specialized in that area then I was able to plug them in and see the Improvement in that area so really I just kind of measured it on on
(15:19) myself like where am I spending the most time what is the most frustrating to me because let’s face it not everyone can be you know perfect at at at every aspect of the of the you know business and so that’s really where I started good so kind of going through your journey you know what would you say was the first I’m going to call it uh reset point that you had to hit in your growth where you grew you started banging your head against the ceiling maybe a little bit and you had to maybe pull back and and retool and then let’s
(15:56) kind of talk through that process yeah so I would definitely say you know after the first year um I was able to look back on you know how the year went and it gave me a a chance to kind of sit back and make some adjustments um that I think were necessary for sure uh but then I think around the three-year Mark also uh you know kind of hit another point where it’s like you know hey we’re making good money but there’s still these large issues that we’re dealing with um and then I would say probably the six
(16:33) or seven year mark um although for us that was that aligned uh perfectly with the whole covid thing um which you know we utilized to uh make some of the you know hard decisions that needed to happen and and it really caused uh a point for us to really have to look at things and and restructure and make sure that you know we’re running way more efficient so absolutely so just to kind of Tim Stamp Those so you know at the one year Mark about where were you Revenue wise uh we were at about 1 million after first year that first year
(17:15) yep three years where would you have been three years we were we were almost knocking on uh three million okay and then and then year six year seven about where were you yeah so then we were between about four and five million okay those years so and really that like the four to eighty year mark that’s where it seems like the real work uh really hits you know it’s easy right up front to just you know do what you got to do to try and squeeze out you know some profit but then to actually put things in place
(17:53) to make them sustainable and repeatable that’s that four to eight years that’s where it really uh it takes work okay well let’s dive into that because you you you brought that up so so what is the work um you know as you as you kind of assessed that 48e Mark for for you what was the real hard work that you really had to do to to keep the business growing sure uh so number one was figuring out you know my actual numbers and being able to track those consistently uh number two would be getting the right people on board
(18:29) uh and building the right team you know there were a lot of times where I hired people that I really like them personally and still do to this day but they just weren’t a fit for either the company or for the position uh that sort of thing so that was an important part um and then uh also uh just Building Systems and processes um you know standard operating procedures that uh govern how we do things in the future so that um when we do something well when something does go well then we can replicate that um and
(19:08) keep keep doing it excellent and then last segue we’ll get into you you mentioned this earlier you’ve been able to diversify um and and leverage what you’ve done with Wichita Home Works to to really start into some other entrepreneurial Ventures yep so talk a little bit about that how how did you determine when it was the right time you know how have you assessed other Ventures that that maybe you want to be a part of you know kind of walk us through that process yeah so uh I would say necessity was probably
(19:46) the the biggest uh um driving force behind all of them so for instance our uh trades business um that largely came out of a necessity for good quality um subcontractors for our remodel work uh it was always hard to find and then when we did find them it was always hard to keep a you know a spot in their queue and to get um kind of their um priority you know when we needed something and so uh you know we met we met uh good people within that that industry as we continued to do business and uh just reached out to them and and started
(20:27) putting together other part Partnerships um but also like our our real estate investing business um that one kind of comes from just our own competitive advantage that we’ve built um through the remodel side of things um as you know um you know the management of rental properties and that sort of thing is really where uh you can make or break uh the investment and uh we’ve always had a unique opportunity to pull from the the you you know uh employees and the systems that we have in place uh to be able to manage our own properties
(21:04) and make a little bit more profit excellent and just out of curiosity would you you consider yourself a an entrepreneur first or would you consider yourself a remodeler second uh yeah no definitely entrepreneur first uh okay yeah I’ve I’ve always uh you know been chasing uh my own my own uh adventures in in terms of Entrepreneurship so perfect well uh as we wrap up so so I’m going to ask you uh if you were speaking to the the new contractor just starting out what’s what’s the one or two pieces of advice
(21:46) you’d give them oh boy um I would definitely say um you know be very slow to spend money and especially cash um and along with that would be you know put off uh debt as as long as you can uh debt is definitely a a very important tool and it can help you know leverage but um so many times I see you you essentially have to you have to be able to feel the pain of of your mistakes um up front so that you actually make those you actually improve those areas that cause the mistake and a lot of times Deb can be used as like a
(22:31) pain reliever uh you know for for mistakes made and so I’ve seen it before you know people oh I want to start a contracting business so they go out and buy a brand new truck the brand new trailer all new tools all that sort of thing um that was definitely something I put all of those things off and uh it it went well for us so I would say that’s probably one of the biggest things good now let’s let’s let’s kind of shift gears and let’s let’s talk to that contractor that they’ve been at that million million and
(23:06) a half mark for a while they’d like to get to three million five million Beyond what’s your what’s your advice to them what’s the one or two things you would say to them you know I think the biggest thing that holds people back is that fear to hand over those responsibilities and to uh essentially multiply your effort so uh usually you see you know guys that are stuck at those marks they’re usually still you know doing the the large majority of of the work within their business and um you know it it
(23:44) depends on the type of person you are I was always the you know the sales type uh going out making connections networking that’s really where I excel and so I had to free myself up from the other um you know responsibilities so that I could go do that so I think it’s important not everyone has to be that marketer or networking person but you have to find what you’re best at and uh free yourself up so that you can do just that uh and spend your time on the things that that really do the the most for your business and the things that
(24:24) you aren’t as good at you need to go out and find somebody that is better than you about it and rely on them and pay them to do it excellent and then the final place is you know now that you you’re at the the level you’re at what are some of the things that you’re focused on moving forward so what what are you going to be doing to take your business to the next level you know I’m uh still every day I’m I’m essentially working to fire myself uh I’m trying to remove myself and what I have to do from
(24:58) you you know as many aspects of the business as possible and not because I don’t want to actually you know have to show up to work or anything like that but so that my uh role in it is is less um you know pertinent to the success of it uh that gives me the freedoms that I uh you know really that’s why I signed up to do this is so that someday I’d have the freedom of of time and and money to be able to do my things excellent well I appreciate all your insights today any final thoughts that you want to give our audience you know
(25:37) the the only thing I can say is uh you know entrepreneurship isn’t necessarily for everyone and and uh you know I’ve seen a lot of I’ve had experiences that have gone really well with Partners um and I’ve I’ve had you know experiences that didn’t go as well and it really comes down to whether or not you’ve got that drive and that passion to keep going even when all the numbers say that you know you’re not going to make it because I know I’ve come to that multiple times good and uh Nathan if
(26:11) people want to learn more about you Wichita Home Works working the go yeah yeah you can check us out online uh and uh we’re also very active across all social media so more than happy to talk with anyone excellent well thank you for your time and uh we look forward to seeing you on the next episode of the digital remodeler podcast

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