A History of Hard Work
After a brief stint in the solar heating business, Tom Menold found his niche in the masonry business. Menold had a history in this industry, having completed a bricklayer apprenticeship after high school and worked in the field for several years after that.
Having imagined owning a business since his youth, he began taking notes as a worker. His vision included a strong dedication to the customer, which would eventually become the company’s motto. “As an employee in the construction business, I developed some strong ideas about how I wanted to take care of employees and customers,” Menold explained.
While business flourished during the seventies, by 1980, high interest rates discouraged many from building new homes. What could have been disastrous to a masonry company turned out to be an opportunity for Menold to diversify.
“For many of us, in a matter of months our business climate changed from a glut of work to a fight to survive,” Menold said. “Contractors who had been developing subdivisions were hanging screen doors for a living. We learned to always be looking for the next good business opportunity that fits what we know and who we are.”
Through this challenge, Menold learned the value of offering a variety of services to cover a multitude of customer needs. During the building drought, Menold began doing masonry tuck-pointing, repairs and restoration, along with commercial and residential roofing. As time went on, he was encouraged by several customers to handle entire building projects, and contracting was gradually reintroduced to the growing Menold business repertoire. By 1988, the business had grown substantially and incorporated as Menold Construction, Inc.
Over the next two years, Menold Construction’s list of completed projects grew. The company’s open-minded business attitude led them to explore repair and restoration work. Menold soon welcomed the company’s current vice president, Steve Driscoll, to the team. Driscoll proved instrumental in forming Menold Construction’s Restoration Division. Since their first fire restoration project in the early 90s, restoration has become an integral part of company operations, making up about half of their business. Menold Construction soon became Menold Construction & Restoration.
In 2004, after a decade of steady success in business and customer service, Menold Construction & Restoration purchased the former Tazewell Publishing building in Morton. After extensive renovations, the new locale provided a comfortable home for all of its operations. Since the move, the company has helped develop the surrounding business facility by leasing space to small businesses. Among the shops is The Avenue Kitchen and Interiors, a retail store owned by Menold employees. The store works well in conjunction with many of the projects the company handles.
Today, Menold Construction & Restoration’s 40 employees handle an average of 700 projects per year. The company was recently awarded the 2007 GuildQuality Guildmaster Award, placing them in the top tier of building/remodeling agencies across the country. Guildquality, Inc. is an independent survey agency that rates building and remodeling companies based on customer satisfaction. Guildquality surveys only the top companies’ customers. “This places Menold with the best of the best,” Menold said. “It is a great honor to receive this award.”
Success Starts with Customer Service
Establishing a list of satisfied customers has been essential to Menold Construction’s success. The company’s most satisfying growth has come from repeat customers, and its quality reputation spreads easily and quickly by word of mouth.
In many cases, the company’s focus on the customer extends to empathy for their situation. “Most contractors do not understand or know how to help manage their customers’ emotional experience,” he said. “Many people who have remodeling work done in their homes are not prepared for the emotional drain of having strangers, dirt, dust and chaos in their personal space for an extended period of time. Restoration customers whose homes and belongings are suddenly trashed by fire or flood are usually emotionally stunned and traumatized.”
The Menold philosophy holds that emotional damage control is as much standard procedure as physical damage control. “In each case, we try to educate them, keep them informed, follow through on promises, get them put back together as quickly as possible and do the little things that help relieve some frustration and maintain some emotional control,” he said. “We try to ‘take care of the customer first, and then do the work.’”
Menold believes that the same integrity applied to customer relations should extend to employees as well. “We know that our company is only as good as the caliber of the person representing Menold Construction and Restoration to our customer,” he said. Menold cultivates good employees by managing them fairly. “We pay people well, give them the best benefits that we can afford and treat them with the type of respect that we expect from them,” he said.
In Menold’s opinion, his efforts towards his workforce have paid off. “One of the most rewarding experiences for me has been watching a group of individuals grow, develop, work together and collectively drive our business in some very positive directions,” he said.
Success isn’t without its hurdles. One challenge came in the form of a short period of imbalance when a trade union attempted to campaign against the company to its employees. “It was disruptive and divisive,” Menold said. “[It was] a drain on everyone in our company, and took our focus away from taking care of our customers and building our business.” In the end, Menold was able to maintain the overall support of its workforce and resolve the matter quickly.
From Past to Present to Future
What evolved from Menold’s skill as a mason is now an established company that recently celebrated its 30th year in business. On September 27th, Menold Construction & Restoration held an open house in honor of its anniversary.
Menold said he will move into the next decade of business with the same quality of service and strong dedication which has brought the company this far. The past has taught him to never overlook even the smallest opportunity, and this business ideology holds strong even today.
“Our plan is to continue to expand our business by taking better care of our customers and doing our jobs better,” Menold said. “We plan to continue to look for the next good business opportunities that fit what we know and who we are. We should continue to stay diversified and embrace change for the potential opportunities that it creates.”
Currently, Menold Construction & Restoration provides full-service interior and exterior design and building, residential and light commercial remodeling and additions, insurance-loss disaster mitigation and restoration and reconstruction to damage caused by fire, water, storms and mold. Their office is located at the intersection of Detroit and Jefferson streets in Morton. IBI