Total Home Improvements was founded in 1991 by brothers Gene and Randy Firth. Gene was a real estate agent, working for a builder/developer. Randy had recently gotten out of a business with his father. In his business, Gene had discovered that many people who were selling their homes needed repairs done before they could close. They were looking for someone who could do all of the miscellaneous repairs without having to call numerous companies. Gene and Randy had grown up around contracting and Gene had gained much knowledge while working in his current industry. They began to do some of these jobs on the weekends and in the evenings. It didn’t take long before they began to get too busy to get the work done in their spare time and realized they would need to hire help in order to get the work done. That’s when they decided that it wasn’t just something to do in their spare time, but a business.
After having trouble keeping up with the workload, they decided that it was time to go into the business full time. This was a hard decision for Gene especially, because he had a wife and two young children. To leave the stability of a job where he liked the people and the work and had a steady income was not something that he took lightly. However, they strongly believed that business would continue to grow and that they could weather any hard times. Gene and Randy had certain criteria that they believed would help them be successful. They had said from the beginning that they would only have good, clean cut, trustworthy people working for them, not the stereotypical contractors. They also believed in reinvesting in the business. Although there has been much to learn through the years, those things will never change. Even though they were busy, they took very little money from the business and usually paid others more than they took for themselves. They believed that any money they could invest in new equipment or vehicles would pay for itself many times over. Although the trucks that they had were old and didn’t match, they had them painted white and the company name put on them. They chose colors that they believed would set them apart from others, white and teal. They only had three trucks, but began hearing people comment about seeing their trucks around. They knew that they had made the right decision to invest in having the vehicles painted and lettered alike.
They had a small office in their sisters’ garage and later an office built on the back of Randy’s house. They had a secretary answering the phones and scheduling appointments and a few other employees working full time. They were hired to do some work on a small commercial building on Route 17 in York County. The owner of the building had relocated and was trying to get the building ready to sell. While working on the building, people began seeing their trucks parked outside and started calling, needing work done around their homes. Well, the light bulb went off and they began to realize that having a visible location would attract customers. It would be a huge commitment, to go from having very little overhead, to having the many expenses that come with operating an office. After thinking it through, they made the decision to talk with the owner about purchasing the property. That was the turning point in developing what Total Home Improvements is today.
Business was good, consisting mostly of miscellaneous repairs, pressure washing and painting, but Gene had always wanted to get into larger projects. He was more interested in remodeling, additions and building new homes, where he could be more creative. He worked hard, studied and passed the test to obtain his Class A contractor’s license. This would allow Total Home Improvements to venture into those areas that had always been his passion. They didn’t have much trouble getting this new type of work, as they were developing a great reputation. Gene had most of the knowledge of building, while Randy was handling the sales. This was the beginning of yet another chapter for the brothers.
As this new type of work started to become a larger portion of their workload, it was time for even more changes. More people would have to be brought in to help manage and supervise the jobs. The additions and remodeling were much more time consuming and took much longer to complete than the other work they had been doing. Instead of completing a job in no more than a few days, they were now spending months in some cases on one job. The newly developed positions ensured that the jobs were being done in an efficient and timely manner from start to completion. Another change was that they were now using subcontractors on the jobs. This was needed so that each professional could complete his or her trade as part of a larger job. If an addition were being built, multiple trades may be required, such as an electrician, plumber, etc.
As business continued to grow, they found the need for a salesman, as it was becoming a little overwhelming for Randy. The salesman would also bring to the table the ability to use a cad program to draw 3 dimensional renderings. This proved to be invaluable and would take Total Home Improvements to the next level. Having another salesman and being able to offer renderings of a client’s finished project helped sales increase immediately.
With all of this going on, they were also buying houses to rehab and resell as well as building new homes. They now had a host of employees and subcontractors and quite a few vehicles, it seemed that they were everywhere. The type of work that they were originally doing , now represented a much smaller percentage of their total jobs.
Today, Total Home Improvements is one of the largest home improvement companies on the Peninsula. With approximately 30 employees, as well as many subcontractors who work for them daily, their service area now includes the Peninsula and Southside as well as Williamsburg. The fleet of more than 25 vehicles, all bearing the original white and teal colors, has become a recognizable brand in the region.
After more than 30 years in business, they still have the same integrity and strive to make each customer feel like the only customer.