Sitting with Halsey and Julie Platt, you are surrounded by images that show their award winning work. Platt Builders took home two EM NARI CotY Awards this year and two national CotY Awards, one for Residential Kitchen Over $150,000. We wanted to learn more about how they build award winning project entries. Instead, we learned how they built an award winning company.
Halsey started the business 25 years ago. He tells a story of working for a local builder for a short time. Just a couple years in, he asked about becoming a partner in the business. When his boss declined, the seeds for Platt Builders were sown.
Today he is most proud of his 32 employees. Half of his workforce has been with him for more than 10 years, three for more than 17 years, unheard of in the industry. He doesn’t experience the same labor challenges that many other companies do. Why? Because he finds the best people and compensates them well with a full suite of benefits. He is quick to add that his ability to do that is rooted in how he prices Platt’s projects. His work reflects the costs of keeping the best employees.
Early on Halsey sought help from Remodelers Advantage. In a room of much older peers, one colleague commended him for being a “5 year old company that is getting 20 year old advice.” Key to Platt’s success was acknowledging early that they benefitted from the advice of others. While many peers spent the next 15 years trudging through, Halsey’s “eyes-open” approach allowed him to jump the business hurdles higher and faster by building a network of colleagues who could help him. Today, he is returning the favor – willing to share his expertise as an informal mentor to two young companies here in Eastern Mass.
Today, Platt’s success is showcased in the CotY, Prism, and Chrysalis awards they have won. When asked how they decide which projects to enter, the answer is…”you just know.” Certain projects are utilitarian and meet a client’s needs – other projects are “fabulous.” Presenting those fabulous projects takes work. Julie notes that the average entry takes about 20 hours. The presentation needs to be thoughtful – planned and communicated well. But, the pictures are clearly the linchpin in their success. Halsey notes that in this increasingly electronic world, having a bank of incredible project photos is invaluable.
So important are the images at Platt, that they have created a new model for working with a professional photographer. Instead of scheduling and paying by the project, Platt retains their photographer annually with monthly payments. This allows them to capture the uniqueness of their projects over time. (It also helps them plan and manage their budget for photography throughout the year!) Although a project finishes in January, or before a space is furnished, they aren’t stuck with barren images. The photographer is available over time to capture each project at its best – after a fresh snowfall or when flowers are in bloom.
What advice would Halsey and Julie give a new company?