The Schmidt family was so successful in 2003 that they were miserable. It wasn’t the long hours that had them thinking about a change. They missed working one-on-one with their clients and the hands-on feeling of accomplishment that accompanies bringing a project from concept to completion.
From 2000 to 2003, revenues at AMEK Custom Builders, Minneapolis, soared from $1.5 million to $6.5 million, and the firm was spending $400,000 a year on advertising. The family realized, however, they had paid a price for their success.
“We wanted to get back to being a face-to-face business,” says Andrew, AMEK’s CEO. “And we were willing to fail as a company to reposition the business.”
The following year, the firm laid-off a majority of its in-house staff and nearly eliminated its marketing budget. “We went from 10 percent of our business being referral based to 90 percent,” says Andrew.
Scaling back also allowed the brothers to focus on what they loved most. For Matt, it was design and detail, and for Andrew it was building a family-run business that would last for generations.
“My desire was to focus on high-end projects where I could spend more of my time with each client,” says Matt. “I’m the detailed, analytical one. I’m interested in process, and I have the knowledge and ability to walk someone through the entire design-build process, from concept to finished product.”