ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Russell Pettit has nearly 30 years of experience as a contractor, but he is always looking for ways to do things better.
The Alpharetta businessman has weathered three recessions including the latest and greatest one in 2008, but each time has come back strong.
“We’ve had to re-invent ourselves in this business by adding additional services,” Pettit said. “That means finding ways to save customers money.”
With heating and cooling costs spiraling ever upward, that has mean taking on insulation and window replacement as new areas of expertise. People are becoming cognizant of just how much money goes out a window that is not even open in the form of lost insulation.
“Part of re-inventing myself has been to acquaint myself with all of the rebates that power companies and governments offer to upgrade their homes and businesses to be more energy efficient,” Pettit said. “New doors, windows and insulation make a tremendous difference in heating and cooling costs these days.”
Rebates reduce the cost of upgrades, which shortens the gap before they start earning a return on the investment.
His company, Custom Painting and Renovations Atlanta, has survived by adding services that customers demand. His bread and butter remains basement renovations, baths, interior and exterior renovations, flooring and roofs.
Most of his new work is through referrals from customers both commercial and residential, and callbacks from satisfied customers.
“That is the key to longevity in this business – absolute customer satisfaction,” Pettit said. “I have clients that have been with me 25 years or more. That’s because I treat them like gold, and for me they are gold.”
He walked through a regular client’s house on Lake Lanier. It was to be a rental property, and as a landlord himself, Pettit was able to show how to make the property profitable as well as move-in ready.
“Keeping costs down on rental property is crucial, especially in slow times. You also want to keep tenants happy, because when they walk, it costs you money until you find another,” he said.
Corporate clients have included Atlanta Motor Speedway, Verizon Amphitheatre, Chastain Park Conservancy, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the World Congress Center.
Pettit’s approach to his work is that of a problem solver. Every job has unique circumstances so that a cookie-cutter approach is seldom the right approach.
“There are no problems, only solutions. That’s my job, really,” he said.
He says that approach is what has kept him in this business for 29 years. Being old-school, Pettit doesn’t have a fancy website. His customers reach him by phone at 678-508-3343 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You have to stay on top of things. This business is always evolving. After all, what industry was hurt worse in the last recession than the building industry? In the end, what makes you stand out is your reputation. That speaks for itself,” Pettit said.