Featured in Texas Builder Magazine
Wayne Ball understands the nuances of remodeling as well as the complexities of a service industry.
If you are truly passionate about what you do, it’s difficult to watch others working within your industry who are not as sincere. Wayne Ball of Lone Star Building & Construction is a true remodeler.
If there’s one thing that keeps Ball going, it’s knowing that in the end, quality and craftsmanship mean something to the customer.
“I learned a long time ago that this is a service industry, not a remodeling industry,” Ball said. “We don’t argue with our customers, and we never let our egos or our emotions dictate how we behave toward a client. Anyone can remodel a home, but what really matters is how you treat the customer.”
New State, New Job, New Life
Ball was born and raised in upstate New York and spent his childhood working construction with his father. Ball studied civil engineering and architectural design in college, and, after college, worked in heavy construction and started to make a life and a career for himself in Albany. In 1976, his father moved to Houston, and a couple of years later, Ball decided to ask for an early layoff to visit his father in Texas. He never returned.
“I got tired of freezing in New York,” he joked.
Ball found construction work rather quickly, but in 1980, his father approached him about running a business together after another partnership fell through. Ball jumped at the chance. “My father always wanted to run his own business, and I never really thought about it, but it sounded like a great idea,” he said. The two eventually established themselves as Lone Star Building & Construction Inc., a light commercial and residential remodeling company. Lone Star is a family operated company with master craftsmen specializing in design/build, remodel, home renovation, kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel, whole home remodel, home additions, outdoor kitchens and more. Today, Lone Star earns about $2-2.5 million a year and completes around 20-30 jobs annually.
The Tools to Succeed in a Tough Market
After 35 years in the business, Ball says he has witnessed a dramatic change in the industry’s workforce. He feels that there is less accountability and jobsite pride. Ball recognizes, however, that everyone is to blame for it.
“We used to keep everyone on staff, but now we sub most of our work out, because we’ve created a market where everyone is trying to get the jobs for as little money as possible. You end up with people who have not been properly trained in the craft,” he said.
Craftmanship is important to Ball. He is a Master Craftsman, a carpenter by trade, and served in the field until his father retired in 2001.
“I love coming up with designs and to see those designs come to life,” he said. “Walking customers through that process is the best part of the job.”
Ball feels that the industry needs an educated workforce that is accountable, which is why he is grateful to his local, state and national builders associations for their numerous educational opportunities.
Ball joined the Greater Houston Builders Association and the Remodelers Council in 1984, where he has since served as a board member, committee chair, vice president and president in 2008.
For a small business owner, Ball says his association involvement has been vital to his success.
“When you run your own business, you end up spending 10-12 hours a day cooped up in an office. The association helps you get out, network and learn about your industry,” he noted.
The Business of Running a Family Business
In addition to Ball’s father, other members of his family have played crucial roles in Lone Star Building & Construction.
Ball’s brother, Louis Ball, joined the business in 1982 and now serves as vice president. Ball’s sister, Tamie Sanchez, is the company’s office manager and bookkeeper, and his daughter, Danielle, serves as administrative assistant.
Ball says that while referrals are a large part of his business, he has come to realize that today’s marketing trends are just as important.
“You need to have a presence in so many places: a website, Facebook, all the social networking sites,” he said. “Statistics show that the majority of people who visit those sites are women between the ages of 50-65, and that’s my market, so I have to be out there.”
Ball enjoys being surrounded by his family and working in an industry he loves, and he hopes that his sincerity and work ethic shines through to his customers. “It’s frustrating to see people get into remodeling without understanding everything that goes along with it,” said Ball. “But, the cream always rises to the top, so if you run an honest business and treat your customers well, you will be okay.”
Despite an industry downturn, Ball experienced his second best year in 2009 and was named Remodeler of the Year in 2008 by the Greater Houston BA, proving that the cream truly does rise to the top.