IBS Sneak Peek: Defining the modern-day builder with Joe Christensen and Katie Kath

Construction’s never been easy. But in 2022, the job duties have expanded well-beyond building.

On this episode of “The Building Code,” Zach and Charley preview an insightful panel at next week’s International Builders’ Show with industry pros Joe Christensen of Cardinal Crest Homes and Katie Kath of Jkath Design Build + Reinvent.

Joe and Katie each share how they define the modern-day builder, the subject of an IBS 2022 panel they’re leading along with Buildertrend CEO Dan Houghton and Nick Schiffer of NS Builders on Feb. 8 in Orlando, Fla.

Plus, listen in to hear about Katie’s first IBS experience and a surprise Joe found during a client walkthrough that tested his resolve.

WHAT DEFINES THE MODERN-DAY BUILDER?

Katie: “In terms of what is a modern-day builder for me, that goes back to our brand. So for me, I feel like I am my client. Nine out of 10 clients are me in the sense of sort of demographic, where we are in our life. We have kids, we like to cook. We want an open floor plan. How many people have the ability and the want to take down these major projects, which is such a huge disruption in life? But it’s really no different than when you go to get a cup of coffee. They want the same thing from their build team. They want convenience. They want communication. They want a brand, period. So how are we creating a brand?”

WHAT MAKES THE MODERN-DAY BUILDER DIFFERENT FROM THE TRADITIONAL BUILDER?

Joe: “I always think like it’s our jobs in this industry to be the professionals. It’s our job to steady the waters because people don’t know it’s a messy process… It’s a messy business. And I think the modern-day builder, the mountain that we have to climb is how do we make it a customer service-orientated business —not get railroaded by the clients, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, ‘How do we calm the waters, be process systemized, so it can be a fun experience at the end?’”

LINKS AND MORE

Related content:

Attending IBS 2022? Catch the panel, “Beyond Building: Mastering the Demands of a Modern-Day Builder” on Feb. 8 at 1:45 p.m. ET at W307-C in the convention center.

Then swing by the Buildertrend booth – W6370. Demo our software, enter prize giveaways or network during our daily happy hours beginning at 2 p.m.

Got podcast topic suggestions for 2022? Reach out to us at podcast@buildertrend.com.

New “Building Code” minisode drops Feb. 8. Listen as we dive into what’s next at Buildertrend. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

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Joe Christensen & Katie Kath | Cardinal Crest Homes & Jkath Design Build + Reinvent

Zach Wojtowicz:

Welcome to this special episode of “The Building Code.” I’m Zach Wojtowicz.

Charley Burtwistle:

And I’m Charley Burtwistle.

Zach Wojtowicz:

It’s special because we’re talking about the International Builders’ Show today. We’re really excited to have some wonderful guests who are going to be at IBS. We’ll get there in a second before we get started. I just want to, to do a major shout out for Charley Burtwistle in his recent promotion to director of data science.

Charley Burtwistle:

Geez.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Really exciting. This man is an absolute genius and stud and he hosts a podcast for…

Charley Burtwistle:

Thank you.

Zach Wojtowicz:

A man of multi talents, but well deserved.

Charley Burtwistle:

Thank you. If I had a business card, it would not say director of data science, they would say podcast co-host this is the title I’m most proud of, but I really appreciate that Zach and super excited to be here today with the International Builders’ Show coming up, obviously, you know, the largest convention in the world for, you know, builders to attend.

Zach Wojtowicz:

International.

Charley Burtwistle:

International Builders Show. Absolutely. And the two guests that we have on here today are not only going to be at IBS, but they’re going to be on a panel with our CEO, Dan Houghton, talking about the challenges of becoming a modern builder and you know, what they’ve faced and how they’ve overcome it. And I know we’ll get it into that a little bit more during the episode, so I don’t want to give it all away, but they will be there. Let’s shout out the times real quick. What are they Zach?

Zach Wojtowicz:

It is on Feb. 8 from 1:45 to 2:45. The topic is the modern builder. Our guests on the podcast today are going to be presenting with Dan Houghton talking about that topic. Katie Kath of Jkath Design and Build out of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Joe Christensen of Cardinal Crest Homes out of Kansas City, Missouri, two Midwestern friends, close to Omaha. So.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, absolutely.

Zach Wojtowicz:

We’ve got a chance to meet them. They’re really fantastic. And it’s also worth mentioning if you’re at IBS, we do have daily happy hours in the Buildertrend booth. Check us out from two to five. I’m going to be there at the International Builders’ show. Unfortunately, Charley, isn’t going to be able to make it on this one. That’s what happens when you’re director, you know, you just, you start to…

Charley Burtwistle:

That’s a good way of looking at it.

Zach Wojtowicz:

You start to get into these positions. Yeah. You know, you got to let, you got to let the other people do the work.

Charley Burtwistle:

Right. I guess, except we do have, you know, VPs and directors and our CEO going. So I don’t think It’s not too important to go true. Although I appreciate the sentiment. And you said what time are daily happy hours?

Zach Wojtowicz:

Two to five.

Charley Burtwistle:

So go to the panel, modern builder that ends, pop right over the Buildertrend booth.

Charley Burtwistle:

Will we have the RV there?

Zach Wojtowicz:

Oh yeah.

Charley Burtwistle:

Okay. So find the giant blue Buildertrend RV.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Oh yeah.

Charley Burtwistle:

Grab a beer. Talk with Zach. Ask him how I’m doing. Yeah. And maybe actually talk to like Katie and Joe and the real professionals, but I’ll be there too.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Well, you know, I’m super excited. This will be my little taste of international builder show talking to these guys today. So let’s go ahead and get them in here. All right. Welcome back, Katie and Joe to “The Building Code,” you know, Katie, I don’t think you were on building code before. This is your first time, right? So maybe I shouldn’t say welcome back, but Jesse was on “The Building Code” a few back episodes back into the fall and, and Joe, you hosted “The Building Code” or like you said, maybe you, you won’t claim it as hosting, but I think you did a great job.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Absolutely. And we’re excited to have you guys…

Joe Christensen:

Yeah, It’s like the living room couch. Sorry, go ahead.

Zach Wojtowicz:

No, no, you’re good. It’s yeah, you know, it’s an experience, Charley and I have been doing it now for, you know, almost…

Charley Burtwistle:

A little bit.

Zach Wojtowicz:

A year. Yeah. And it still feels like we’re kind of, you know, finding our groove and it’s just one of those things that, you know, you really have to keep going at it. You know what we wanted to talk about today with you guys though, is the international builder show coming up.

Charley Burtwistle:

Heck yeah.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And Charley’s super psyched about it.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. I wasn’t going to bring it up, but I’m the only person on this call that will not be at the International Builders’ Show. So I’ll be living vicariously through you guys.

Katie Kath:

Yeah, bummer.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. I know.

Zach Wojtowicz:

We’ve been, we’ve been trying to swing it, but he just doesn’t have quite enough pull just yet. Well, but let’s start with, tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and your first attendance at IBS and Katie I’ll start with you. You know what’s, what’s your perspective on the International Builders’ Show?

Katie Kath:

Sure. So, I joined, so Jesse started the company as a custom cabinetry shop only over a decade ago and I was not around for those early years. So he and I are newly well, 2015, I guess, and on is when we got married, but we were together a little bit before then. So around that time we, I had sold a business. We came together, we decided I would help with some business development with his company, Instagram social media was new. There was just kind of this eye candy or opportunity to say, Hey, what if we took what’s really beautiful and just try putting it out there. Back then it felt like, what would we do with TikTok right now? What would happen if we put something on TikTok? So it felt the same way. What would happen if we just start teasing these images out into Instagram and quickly it was working, but it became very clear that we needed to get more serious about the design side of what we were doing.

Katie Kath:

Because the craftsmanship and the quality was there. But I just think aesthetically, we weren’t really figuring, we didn’t really have an aesthetic figured out. So I just took that challenge on and just, I’m not formally trained in design, but I know enough about a business and kind of the project management side from the, I often say I project manage, manage from my computer while our field guys project manage from the field. So really just helping coordinating, you know, we need X amount of square taking, takes of tile, square feet, talking to the client about what that means, where we need to go find it. What might work, the existing program or colors or choices we’ve made. And then now we have a full-scale design team in addition to our build side, but it’s always been in the name of the business, but I think we weren’t living up to it at all.

Katie Kath:

So it feels like we really live up to, but based on that, I am really more on the [inaudible 00:05:37] side when I go. So I’m, I’m more interested, not, I shouldn’t say more, but I’ve just, I’m really curious to see new releases, product launches, connect with brands. And I’ve only been one time, you guys. Probably the last one that we ever had was the only time I’ve been, Jesse has been many more times than I have, but every opportunity we’ve had to go in the past, I can I just be really honest and just say, it didn’t sound like a fun time to me?

Katie Kath:

And if I was going to get on a plane and go somewhere, I’m not going to go to a convention hall and walk around and look at booths, but my mind was blown. And my opinion was definitely changed when I went for the first time a couple years ago. So now it feels like it’s just a part of our business plan. Maybe we both Jesse and I won’t always go, but we’re bringing a few people from our team with us this year. So I think that that just, we might change up who goes each year, but definitely our company will have a representation when we can.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. I appreciate that. And Katie, you know, IBS doesn’t sound that awesome at all. So yeah, truly glad I’m not going, I appreciate the background. I love what you said there, you know, about like not being formally trained and you just kind of like diving in and figuring it out. I feel like that’s a super common theme that we have here on the podcast of, you know, this that’s the new wave in construction, you know. And in the world really, there’s lots of new stuff popping up all the time that you can take advantage of. And a lot of times people will push against it because it’s not the status quo, but if you’re not constantly evolving and learning these new tools that you’re not, you know, formally trained in, you’ll never really be able to keep up. So you know, that that’s awesome background and obviously it’s working very, very well for you and, and your company.

Katie Kath:

Yeah. Yeah. Thanks.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Joe, How about you? Tell us a little bit about your company and, and your IBS experience.

Joe Christensen:

Well, I will start, this will kind of give a good segue of the beginnings of Cardinal Crest. 11 years ago, when I was a super senior in college, I was probably a super, super, super senior. I was 28. So you could do the math from there. I was part of the student competition for the NAHB and the student competition for colleges. They, what they do is they have like 60 or teams compete and you are given a problem. And the problem is like you build a company on paper. The, the year I did, it was in North Carolina and you were going to do a on your lot builder to create this company, do a feasibility study, market study, put together financials, pretty much create this whole company on paper. Well, back in 2010, the market was pretty crappy. If you, if, if you’re in the market and remember it was desolate and during this time, so, OK.

Joe Christensen:

Back up this student competition for the NAHB the actual competition, like the, the culmination, that’s not right. I didn’t pronounce that. Right. But the competition happens at IBS. So that’s like you turn in your books, the judges review them and you can still go to this. I go to this every year for my college. I went to BYU. I go every year and support the students. I like to see the competition every year because I poured my heart, blood, sweat, and tears through this thing. So we competed that year. We actually got third at a bunch of schools, which was not what we wanted, but still good. Yes. Thank you. Still, there.

Zach Wojtowicz:

There were only three entries, but…

Joe Christensen:

You know, yeah. So what’s interesting is during that time, when I was preparing and building this team, and then we, we built this company on paper was when there was like, no, there was no jobs at this time. Nobody was offering me a job out of college. And during that time is when I decided with my business partner that we’re going to start a company. And it was right out of college. I actually took Cardinal Crest is the name of the company I created on paper. And I took that name and logo and started a company from it.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, might as well.

Joe Christensen:

So it’s pretty crazy. IBM minds me every time of like the really humble slim times of Cardinal Crest. We started in 2010 with no work. We self-performed a lot of things. We worked to build one model home, scrapping together as much as money as we could through loan sharks and family and friends, sometimes mixing those two.

Joe Christensen:

And from there, the rest is history. We slowly grew into a custom home builder that does about 18-20 homes a year, very high end custom homes. So I’ve gone. And then so backtrack IBS. That’s when my first, I was a student was the first time I went there, the super senior. And then I didn’t go back for a while because I was too poor. I was just grinding. I was a poor, we were the first couple years through 2010, 11, 12. We didn’t make any money. And so going to IBS seemed like such a luxury. And then one year we scraped again, enough money, and said, “You know, it, it would be a good idea to go.” And so that was like maybe 13 or 14. We went and it was so awesome because I felt like for us there, I kind of researched speakers.

Joe Christensen:

And there was a couple business building consultants that were doing some seminars that charged a lot of money typically for, from consulting. And like the classes were awesome. It was at that time is what we needed, because we were kind of in our own little echo chamber in our business. And he hit us with a gut punch of like, this is what you should be charging. You’re not charging enough. This, this, this, it was a really good kind of hoorah lecture. I went and talked to him after, he gave us a bunch of advice. And it was, I mean, from there, we’re like every year we’re coming back, this thing’s awesome and slowly it’s become more and more of a tradition. We go there. We, we see some of the speakers, we go to some events. We’ve got to know a lot of builders around the country.

Joe Christensen:

We’re in a Builder 20 group. And a lot of those guys are there that now it’s a, now it’s a big party and I’m sorry, you’re not going to be there Charley. But no, it’s a, it’s a really good event. And I love the business side of it. I love just meeting with builders around the country. I love seeing new products. I love rubbing shoulders with the vendors and, and seeing what’s new and, and the design side of what’s. I think it’s an opportunity to, to get outside of your world and say, “What’s happening around the country?” and be inspired.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Katie, something that you said stuck out to me, which was kind of like, I didn’t think it sounded like a good time. And so I’m curious, you know, when you act actually went and got to experience it, what, you know, Joe just talked about the relationships and the business advice. I mean, is that part of what changed your perspective to an extent as well? Like, did you have the same kind of networking opportunities and things, or is there something else that, you know, kind of helped you not convert, but you know, see, see that it is a time investment worth and you know, anybody listening I’m like, sounds like everybody in construction needs to go.

Katie Kath:

Yeah. I mean, I felt like there wasn’t, we definitely didn’t give ourselves enough time. I mean, I built my own little itinerary and ran around and did a few things, but it’s just, you know, along the way you stop and it’s, eye candy over here and eye candy over there and there’s just so much information to take in. And then you feel like, oh, I just wish I had, you know, I could give myself two or four days and we might have only been there for probably three. Maybe it was only two nights could have been three. I don’t remember, but definitely the content is great. The connections, you know, met some, a few, a lot of new people, but a few people that we’re still in touch with. And I think even just, you know, Joe kind of nailed it with feeling like you’re in an echo chamber feeling like you’re a part of this really, really big, giant community of people with across the United States and beyond.

Katie Kath:

And that you’re just, you’re really not alone and you’re not, we’re not perfect and we’re not going to be. And we had breakfast with Brad from AFT Construction, actually not too long ago. And it was just like the best breath of fresh air to listen to him say just, you know, just be really honest about some of the areas where they’re struggling and having challenges and you, you look on Instagram and other places and like, but really you’re having the same challenges that we are here in Minneapolis? And really at the end of the day, we probably have more challenges just based on the weather we’re fighting right now. But yeah, so I think it’s just the community piece, right? It’s just, it’s so hard to get that through a screen or monitor or even a podcast can be challenging to convey communities. So to be able to get in real life with people and just feel the buzz and the energy and the positivity and the culture and it’s great.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. It, it sounds incredible. And the, you were talking about, yeah, I’m going to try to not keep harping on how sad I’m trying to put on a brave face for this.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I’m going to send this to the events team Charley, and actually they’re listening right now. They’re like, wow, we really burned this dude. He is, he’s upset.

Joe Christensen:

I’m starting a GoFundMe.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Let’s get it going. Gosh, I almost made it through that sentence until he started laughing. When I heard what I said.

Charley Burtwistle:

Not very professional.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Sounds incredible.

Charley Burtwistle:

Serious podcast mode. Let’s go.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. Sounds incredible. But no, Katie, when you were talking about your first time there and kind of being overwhelmed with all the opportunities and having your itinerary, I’m sure a lot of people listening to this that are getting ready for IBS. This may be their first time. So what would be like some advice that you guys would have on things that you want to make sure you hit this and this, and you want to make sure to have time here, are there any kind of tips or tricks that you guys would like to pass along?

Katie Kath:

I would just say real quickly not to bring everything back to Instagram, but for me, I just went to some brands that I was really serious about, brands that we’ve worked very consistently with where I could at least approach them and say, I had some information, right? I could name off some of their designs or product or material I could sound like I knew what I was talking about and similar with, you know, Jesse on the build side. So finding those tried and true brands, seek them out. You might not need to know all the latest and greatest cause you follow them so much. So that was kind of track A for me, track B was who do I want to work with? Or what products am I in particular interested in, or I’m maybe we’ll get into this later, but I’m sort of a big brand person.

Katie Kath:

And what brand means to me is a little bit different than what it might mean to others. But it’s a little bit about how we make business decisions on our end is how are we presenting ourselves as a brand to our community? Not just a design build firm, because there’s a lot of us out there. So for me it was just about the aesthetic of brands and who I want to connect with and then finding them before I get out there. So do I follow them on Instagram, sign up for their newsletters, signing up for brand newsletters is so important because even now in the last several months, I know what our brands that I want to go see, I know what they’re doing. I know what happy hour they’re hosting, I know what booth to find them in, any special speakers or keynotes or anything that might be happening at their booth is I know all of that ahead of time. I don’t necessarily have to go filter through a different website to go find it. So those are probably the two things that I did then and are kind of on my list to do between now and when the show starts.

Charley Burtwistle:

For sure. What about you Joe?

Joe Christensen:

I mean, she said it perfectly. I don’t know if I could add much to that. That was great. Yeah. I…

Charley Burtwistle:

Sounds like you need to work on your list, my god.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I should do that.

Joe Christensen:

Geez. I know. No, I think you have to have a plan it’s too overwhelming if you don’t. And so I think you could, I think it’s good to have a plan, research, like, like she said of, of different brands that you like and then the speakers as well. I really do enjoy some of them. I don’t go to all of them, but there are, there are multiple speaking arrangements from people that you would have to pay a lot of money. If you research, some, some of these guys are nationally known. And a lot of people that kind of flies on the radar, some of these guys are, are very expensive consulting business coaches and what, and so I kind of like going to those, I hit up two or three of those and then I keep a lot of flex time in there to kind of just mingle and check out the suppliers that I use often and whatnot, but have a plan.

Joe Christensen:

And then, and, and then reach out, I would say, reach out to your builders, who you do followers or like, and reach out and see what they’re doing. I would say just echoing the culture of IBS it’s a lot what Katie was saying. It’s a time for all of us to kind of be a little bit more vulnerable about what we do and we’re all builders or remodelers or in the industry, if you will supply whatever it might be, we’re [inaudible] industry. And so it’s a time to talk freely and to kind of, you know, just bounce ideas back and be vulnerable about the pains and ups and downs, especially this year. Holy cow, what a year.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I love it. I mean, it’s interesting hearing you guys talking about the thirsts for kind of that community and knowledge. And I’ve heard that a lot on the podcast and in my time when I was a consultant for Buildertrend, we hear that a lot at Buildertrend University where builders are like, “I’m looking for, you know, someone who’s dealt with this or, you know, seen this.” So it’s, it’s great to hear IBS also kind of fills that void, that builders kind of express pretty often. Speaking of visiting your favorite vendors, Buildertrend technically is a vendor for our listeners out there. So make sure you come check us out at the IBS. I’ll be there meeting our customers and the, you know, segueing to you guys are going to be on a panel for us, with our CEO, Dan Houghton, which is really exciting. The modern builder panel on Feb. 8, it’s the first session that we’re hosting 1:45 p.m. Eastern time, it’s an hour. We kind of wanted to kind of see, you know, what are you guys going to be talking about? Give a little sneak peek, don’t give too much of away, but we’re really excited to have you both there in person talking about it. And you know, what are kind of the things that, you know, the theme is modern building. What are the, the first initial thoughts that you’re kind of thinking about with that topic?

Katie Kath:

I think I, I hope to bring a different perspective because I’m not a builder. My company does building. I don’t you guys really, I mean, you don’t want me in a consult. You don’t want me putting together numbers and what it’s going to cost to, we do remodeling is definitely our game. We do a lot of high-end and very custom remodeling, a lot of large, two-story additions. We’re not just a bath or really even just a kitchen remodeling team anymore. But in terms of, but I understand the culture of our business. I understand what we’re doing. I’m very much lead both. I used to be in the hospitality industry. So we have a front and the back of the house, and we’re the back of the house and then all of our field crew, and then Jesse, they’re the front of the house. I spend more and more and more of my time just creating a synergy between the front and back of the house and have sort of realized, I don’t even understand how some companies who don’t really have, I don’t know.

Katie Kath:

I don’t even know how we’d be able to do it without creating that synergy. There’s so much of a potential disconnect. If our field crew doesn’t have what the front of the house doesn’t have, what the back of the house has and vice versa, we just need to be in constant communication. But really in terms of what is a modern day builder for me, that goes back to our brand. So for me in a modern day and our clients, I feel like I am my client nine out of 10 clients are me in the sense of sort of demographic, where we are in our life. We have kids, we like to cook. We want an open floor plan. Like what you see behind me, we need a mud room, if you’re in Minnesota, that’s back in that corner. I mean, we all sort of need the same things.

Katie Kath:

And so if we all need the same things, we’re all probably drinking the same coffee. We all might have a Peloton in the basement. We might have our favorite pair of Nikes in the back, you know? So we’re kind of all behaving very similarly. And so when they, when they are looking for a company, you know, renovation and building, I mean, it’s, it seems like it’s a really sexy thing to do. I mean, there’s, there’s no shortage of it. Everybody wants it. Our inbox probably much like Joe’s. I mean, it’s, it’s insane. How many people have the ability and the want to take down these major projects, which is such a huge disruption in life, but no different than when you go to get a cup of coffee, they want the same thing from their build team. They want convenience. They want communication. They want a brand, period. So how are we creating a brand is where I’m headed?

Charley Burtwistle:

Love. Love that.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. That’s, that’s really interesting. Joe, what about you? What are, what are your thoughts on this topic? I’m sure they’ll get more at Dan Houghton will, you know, pull even more out of you guys. I’m sure. So.

Joe Christensen:

Well, I’ll just give a little tease.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Got to save the material.

Joe Christensen:

I don’t want to give everything away. Yeah. Otherwise they won’t come. They’ll be like, why did, you got that panel? Just so I think, you know, along the lines, same with Katie’s. I think this whole last year into, I think disruption has been a big part of our lives, right? Everything’s flipped on its head. And I was just talking about this this morning. How like as a builder, you can’t historical context has no context, which is so wild because that’s how we run our businesses is by past experience. But when now past experience doesn’t hold water. It’s really weird. I think as a modern day builder, you have to be willing to disrupt things. And I say that because we, we started this business by saying, Hey, the guys we worked for, what did we like?

Joe Christensen:

What we didn’t like? And they were true artisans. They were craftsmen. They were so knowledgeable. But the guys we had worked for my business owner and I, they were rough and tough contractors who in end, the clients respected, but didn’t want to invite them over to dinner. They didn’t, they were scared to ask questions. They were the people that worked for these guys were scared to learn from them or be again, I use that word vulnerable, cause that’s a, I feel like a disruptive word in our business and, and it’s even worse. We do commercial contracting as well. It’s even, it’s still so prevalent there. I mean, it is a rough and tough business. And if you don’t have thick skin, it could be tough. And I think it’s a problem. And I think that’s the disruption that you have to have is that as a modern builder, you cannot be that way anymore.

Joe Christensen:

You have to customer service at the forefront of your brand or your company. And that’s hard right now because to tell you the truth. I don’t know if you guys have noticed, customer service is probably at the all-time low. Everybody is tired. Everybody’s fed up. I mean, I feel like I go to a store and I could see to that person’s eyes. I might ask a question that might be tricky and I could see how like, just exhausted they are. And they’re short with me. And I think myself, I know I feel the same way. And I often feel like I’m the kind of the cheerleader in our company. Like, Hey, I know you have reason to be frustrated. Like at superintendent, you have reason to be super. What that, what that owner is saying is wrong. They don’t have grounds to be that way.

Joe Christensen:

How do we flip this on its head? How do we climb that mountain of customer services? So that in the end of the day, because what I always think is like it’s our jobs in this industry to be the professionals. It’s our job to, to, to steady the waters because people don’t know like it’s a messy process. I mean talk about an industry. I’m building $2 million homes, you know, I’ll build whatever million dollar homes and I’ll find pee bottles stuck in the stud walls after the roofer got done. I mean, where else does that exist? I don’t know if anyone else has seen that, but there’s bottles full of pee and they look yellow. And I, I mean at one time I was doing a walkthrough six years ago and I had a child pick one up and I about lost my, the owners didn’t even know what it was.

Joe Christensen:

And I was like, oh my, oh my gosh. So anyway, sorry to digress. But like, so it’s a messy business. And I think the modern-day builder, the mountain that we have to climb is how do we make it? How do we make it a customer service-orientated business, not get railroaded by the clients. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, how do we calm the waters, be process systemized. So it can be a fun experience at the end. Guess what? I tell people this all the time, this is like my first, like I tell people, I’m say buckle up. We’re going to have conflict resolution throughout this whole thing, but guess what? I’m a fun person to deal with even through the crap. And so we’re going to have difficult conversations and we’ll be easy going as we have those.

Joe Christensen:

That’s just part of it. And that is not what it, you can have two ways. This is the last thing I’ll say. I feel like, again, long-winded, you can be the scary contractor and that works the scary contractor, a rough and tough guy scares the owner to say, I don’t want to have that conflict resolution. Let’s just pay it. Let’s just deal with it. Fine. He’s so mean and mad. And I just don’t want, and that’s a, it’s a business model. It does work. And there’s still guys who do it. Or you can be the other way and say, “Hey, what’s the problem.” Okay. Here’s our standards. Here’s our process through it. How do we work through this? And I’m not, again, I, it’s not weakness. It’s not saying we give away the barn, but no, it’s, we, we make money. We stick our ground, but there’s a, there’s a finesse to it, a customer service way of doing things.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. I think that’s a beautiful sentiment and a beautiful way to like run a business. I keep thinking about what Katie said about brand and how everyone has a brand and companies have brands. And, you know, do you want, I don’t think you want your brand to be, you know, the big scary contractor. I mean, both, I thought it was interesting. Both of you guys touched on being really, really customer-centric and customer first and I know that’s something that we preach all the time at Buildertrend as well, too. And if you can get that to be your brand and what you’re known as obviously that’s going to drive a lot more business, it’s going to make everybody’s life easier. You’re not going to see that disappointed, exhausted look on as many people’s faces.

Charley Burtwistle:

So, yeah, I, I love that. And, and I’m really, really excited for you guys to be able to get up there with Dan and talk through this, you know, with a large crowd, I feel like people that go to that show will, will learn a lot. I was surprised when I asked you guys what people should do to prepare for IBS, neither one of you guys said come to our panel, but that sounds like the, the No. 1 thing that they should do right?

Katie Kath:

Right.

Joe Christensen:

Of course. That was a given, come on.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. And we will definitely have, you know, notes in the show notes for the time and date. So anybody listening to this we’ll have the opportunity to come see you guys live, which is awesome. And learn a ton and become an even better builder.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Well, I think we’re about out of time today here on The Building Code we appreciate both of you coming on and talking a little bit about your business, what you do, how you do things and, and what we’re going to kind of touch on at IBS. We’ll see you both down there. Safe travels down to Florida. And thanks for coming on once again.

Katie Kath:

We’ll be there. Thanks for having us.

Joe Christensen:

Thanks for having me, having me. Sorry. That was weird.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Bye guys. We just had Katie Kath and Joe Christensen on for their pre IBS interview, Charley, with your main takeaways?

Charley Burtwistle:

Well, I’m personally super excited about their panel, and I’m not just saying that because we, we are promoting it and Dan Houghton’s going to be there, but I was kind of taken aback by how similar their answers were and how similar it is to the stuff that we think about all the time with being a customer first organization taking on new things. Like how many jobs have you had at every job you’ve had at Buildertrend has been, you weren’t trained for, right? Like, you’ve kind of just figured it out as you go. And I was definitely the same way in data science. And these guys are saying the same thing about the construction industry. So modern builder taking on new challenges, how do you figure it out?

Charley Burtwistle:

How do you grow? How do you adapt? That’s? I mean, that’s just going to be an awesome panel and I’m glad I got a chance to meet those two since I won’t in Orlando.

Zach Wojtowicz:

It’s going to be in the show notes. This episode is brought to you by Charley being sad that he’s not an IBS.

Charley Burtwistle:

I really didn’t want to talk about it this much. So what do you think, Zach? What were your takeaways?

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, you know, I’ve always loved getting into the weeds with, it’s funny, because on this interview it was kind of, you know, I didn’t expect to get to where we got about the connections and the relationships and all those themes that we’ve had on “The Building Code.” A lot just shows how special this industry is and the people that work in it, they do incredible work. They have incredible perspective. I love learning from them, listening to them.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And I know that panel on Feb. 8, down at IBS is going to be incredible. Talk about some amazing just business people, perspective on branding, and the things that, you know, when you go into the, a business are kind of crucial for our modern consumer to an extent too, like their expectation, what Katie said about the convenience. Right. And like the same expectations at Starbucks is kind of brought to the home building process. And I had never thought about it like that before and really kind of made me think.

Charley Burtwistle:

You know, what we moved past pretty quickly by was the fact that Joe presented IBS as a college project.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I know.

Charley Burtwistle:

And then used it as a business plan.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. I know. I almost was like…

Charley Burtwistle:

I’m just realizing that now we took that at face value. We’re like, oh yeah, yeah. As one does. Yeah. In 2010. Yeah.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Like during the downturn, like I’m going to go start a business. So like…

Charley Burtwistle:

That’s crazy amazing story…

Zach Wojtowicz:

In full circle, now he is on the panel there so. Yeah, we mentioned this in the opener just to close it out, that we’re also going to have a minisode called “Inside Buildertrend.” This is going to a regular occurrence in between our longer format episodes. So check it out. It’s airing when IBS is happening down in Orlando. Thank you so much for joining us on “The Building Code.” I’m Zach Wojtowicz.

Charley Burtwistle:

And I’m Charley Burtwhistle. Make sure you like, review, subscribe as always. Thanks for joining us, later.


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