Ralph Slaske has been in the custom homebuilding business for over a decade, entering the industry after a lengthy career as an engineer and project manager with Johnson Controls. Founded in 2005, Slaske Building Company has quickly become one of the most trusted names in Northwest Ohio due to its customer-centered approach and its ability to offer incredibly comprehensive homebuilding services. Understanding that clients are making a sizable investment when they commit to buying or building a home, Mr. Slaske has adopted a philosophy that clearly focuses on achieving the best possible outcome for clients.
Mr. Slaske, a member of the National Association of Homebuilders and the Home Builders Association of Greater Toledo, has taken advantage of his company’s strong reputation by expanding his operations to include Perrysburg Kitchens and More, Perrysburg Management Inc., Slaske Enterprises Inc. and Adjm Equipment, with each company devoted to covering a unique aspect of the homebuilding process. Clients working with Mr. Slaske quickly realize that he has created a one-stop homebuilding experience that eliminates many of the unnecessary stressors commonly associated with the process of buying or building a home.
With his background in engineering and his corporate experience as a project manager, Mr. Slaske’s entrepreneurial enterprises share a common focus on efficient operational processes resulting in truly custom home designs for clients. A graduate of the University of Toledo with a degree in engineering, Mr. Slaske founded Slaske Builders with the goal of adopting a unique approach to homebuilding that would make the client experience enjoyable and would deliver homes that are highly customized rather than being custom in name only.
How did you get started? What inspired you to start this business?
The initial push came from a desire to exit the corporate world, but ultimately it was the experience of building my own home that led me to start Slaske Building Company back in 2005.
After seeing what homebuilders were calling “custom” homes, I realized that there was a real lack of homebuilders who were either capable or willing to deliver truly customized homes.
How do you make money?
I charge a fair price for the products and services my companies provide, and those prices are in keeping with industry standards. I believe the company has done so well mostly because of the value we are able to provide through custom home designs and high-quality construction.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I founded the company in 2005, and in hindsight the timing could have been a whole lot better. The recession had a profound effect on the homebuilding market, but the company’s focus on consistently outstanding work allowed us to reach our profitability goals with only a slight delay due to the economic climate of the time.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Yes, absolutely! I am incredibly detail-oriented by nature and my engineering experience only enhanced that particular trait, so clients were able to immediately recognize that their home would be in good hands and that their unique vision would be realized.
Even so, it took some time to develop the reputation we now have in the region, so there were some times in which doubt definitely crept in.
How did you get your first customer?
We began with a campaign advertising the availability of our services, and I used my own custom home as a showcase for our first prospective clients. Those initial clients were impressed with the level of detail and were able to see just how closely the original plans matched the final outcome. It was important that we were able to demonstrate that we would be able to build a home that was consistent with each client’s original vision.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We run a lot of promotions to bring potential clients in for a consultation. This allows us to show precisely what we are capable of doing as homebuilders and to make it clear that when we say “custom” we really mean it. We do not believe offering a selection of three or five “cookie-cutter” homes is the same as offering custom home design.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
With demand for our services growing so rapidly, I have had to really evaluate whether or not to accept several new clients. I was concerned about the increasing volume affecting the quality of our work or extending our turnaround times, but we made it work without sacrificing our standards and we now have an expansion plan in place.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
My attention to detail has allowed me to deeply understand every client’s unique vision and to deliver a custom home design that is representative of that vision.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I get a great deal of satisfaction each and every time a client walks into their custom home for the first time following its completion.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I am very excited about the general growth in the homebuilding industry and already have plans to expand operations to provide our services to a broader client base in the future.
What is the most important lesson you have learned as an entrepreneur?
After navigating a recession that affected the homebuilding industry in an incredibly profound way, I realized that there will never be a lack of demand for consistently outstanding and high-quality work. I believe we survived because our focus has always been on providing excellent customer service and building custom homes of the highest quality.