Striking the Perfect Balance
By Jessica Klarp
In this year alone, Creative Design Construction & Remodeling won five national design awards — Best Remodeled Kitchen over $100,000; Best Remodeled Kitchen under $100,000; Best Remodeled Bathroom; Best Residential Addition; Best Brochure and a Grand Prize for Overall Design Excellence. A quick scroll down the awards page on the company’s website proves that this year was as bountiful as the previous years. It’s the kind of recognition that company owner Glen Lumia never takes for granted. To Lumia, the real award comes every night when he walks in the door of his beautiful home, and his family rushes to greet him. For the past 23 years, Lumia has worked to create the perfect balance between sustaining a thriving business that changes the lives of his clients and being an active participant in the daily life of his family.
In an effort to find that balance, the Northvale-based design-build firm has developed goal-based ethos that is gladly upheld by all 26 employees for whom Lumia believes are equally invested in their own families. “I have a family life that is important to me,” he says, “as do most of our people. Going home happy, not frustrated, is key. I love my work. I believe the rest of the staff feels the same way. We share the same core values — ‘work smart, play hard, family first, and what never gets forgotten is the client is always right. Why? Because they are the client!’ The client signs all of our checks, including mine. Realizing that and treating every project like it’s our own home has helped make the company a success. That is the main reason our clients come back time and time again. The reality is if our staff didn’t care or work exceptionally hard to make
it happen, it wouldn’t! Every business owner, just like a coach in sports, is nothing without a winning team. I most definitely have that winning team, and I know I am nothing without it. We play to win, and when we do, it’s our clients who reap the rewards.”
It shows in the glowing awards. It shows in the superior final product the company produces. It shows in the many satisfied customers who are fast to write a gratified referral letter, which is then shared on the company’s website. It shows in the fact that during an economic downturn that smacked the housing market, Creative Design Construction & Remodeling has not suffered. In fact, it has grown.
Lumia believes that one of the reasons the company has grown is the realistic approach they take to design and remodeling. “We want a client for life,” he says. “We focus on what is important to the client, and then work with realistic goals and budgets.” Over the years, with thousands of homes and projects under its belt, the company has developed systems that streamline the process. From meetings with their in-house architect and design department, which includes a cabinet division and production department, to the company’s CPA who can run the numbers, to the award-winning showroom that helps clients visualize the end product and make selections, each step has been carefully planned to give the client the very best experience possible. “We have our eye on the target,” he says, “and the target is that we want the project buildable. We don’t want to waste the client’s time or money designing something they can’t afford to build.”
On average, the company works on eight to 12 projects at one time, ranging in all sizes and complexity, with different stages of completion in and around Bergen and Rockland Counties with a plan to cross the Hudson into Westchester County, NY. Although the company is skilled at new construction, in this economy, they are perfectly positioned to meet the needs of the many homeowners who are opting to expand with a high level of customization rather than move. Whether it is adding thousands of square feet to a colonial or hundreds of square feet to a split level or ranch, Lumia (who for over 10 years has been active in the Builders & Remodelers Association of Northern New Jersey and has served for two terms as its president) observed that potential clients can come in the door already off track, if they are budgeting by focusing on new home square footage multipliers. “If we are adding a second floor and a new kitchen on the back of the house, that means everything on the first floor will also need to be addressed, from wiring to HVAC to moving stairs and windows,” he explains. “The square foot parameters are much different when it comes to remodeling.”
That’s where Creative Design Construction & Remodeling’s experience is a huge advantage to clients. “We use historical job-costing data to establish a budget. We have developed systems over the years that help us be proactive, not reactive.” Clients have the ability to pick and choose from their restaurant-type menu of options. “We don’t spend our clients money — they do. We just help them make educated decisions; we hold their hand through the whole process. That’s what makes our system a success.”
The showroom presents a variety of vignettes that offer clients “good/better/best” options for finish selections Lumia smiles when he says most clients want the best for a good price. “Knowing that, we pick a focal point that makes a statement and design around that. That’s where the extra money goes: into the double tray, elliptical or barrel ceiling or a decorative window or range hood, something unique that identifies the personality of the client. You don’t have to break the bank on everything.”
Customer satisfaction is the end result of anticipating the customer’s future needs. More than 70% of the company’s business comes from repeat and referral sources. Lumia finds that the best clients are the ones who share similar core values, are looking for a high level of craftsmanship and are goal oriented. “We sell service,” he says. “We have been here a long time. That means a lot to people. We offer a five-year warranty, and we provide direct access to the office, the project manager and lead carpenter six days a week. I trust my staff to do the right thing. They are all very good at what they do.”
Lumia sees his staff as an extension of his family. While some construction companies have lost valuable employees due to a slow market, Creative Design Construction & Remodeling used the downturn to focus on retaining its “A” players and hiring equally strong new staff to meet demand. Lumia’s goal to grow the company not only offers him a little more freedom to spend time with his family, but it offers employees an opportunity to play a more substantial role in the management of this thriving company. “We have created an environment where everyone has an opportunity to advance,” he says. “That would not be achievable as a smaller company.”
In Lumia’s desk, he keeps a hand-written definition of success. His goal is to be the best father, husband, son, friend, employer and service provider. “It means making time for the big things that are really the small things: holding the back of my daughter’s bike as she learns to ride, having dinner together every night, not just showing up for every game, but coaching too. It means being in charge of the business, not letting the business be in charge of me. Don’t misunderstand — I love what I do, and I’m planning for success, now and in the future!” It’s all about knowing your values and finding balance.
Despite the slew of awards and the many, many families who have benefited from the streamlined systems developed by Creative Design Construction & Remodeling over the years, finding a balance between the satisfaction of a job well done and the joy of participating actively in his family life clearly means Lumia has found success and balance. He would be the first to remind you that “it can all be taken from you in the blink of an eye,” but optimistically believes, “if you don’t let that scare you, work hard everyday, do what you think is the right thing, and most importantly, surround yourself with winners; it will all take care of itself. That’s how I go home happy every day!”