As CEO of Homestead Builders, Jeremey Lawson knows how to build strong foundations. Jeremey was born in Iowa, and while many of the friends he grew up with were leaving the area, Jeremy decided to stick around and start his own company.
Jeremey grew up in Bloomfield, Iowa and then went on to attend college at Indian Hills Community College in nearby Ottumwa, Iowa. In 1996 Jeremey opened his own business called Homestead Builders. Homestead Builders is located in Drakesville, Iowa and specializes in building barns, cabins, and turnkey homes. Contractors do more than just put a few nails in a board. They help with the entire building process, from the design to the planning and finally the building. Jeremey takes pride in helping people plan the right project that suits their needs, and it brings him joy to drive down the road and see a cabin or home that he helped to build from the ground up.
Jeremy also has a passion for both sustainability and affordability. As a key player working in the wood industry, Jeremey is familiar with sustainable methods that can be used when building homes and superior building materials that can be chosen over others. This sort of knowledge gives his customers endless benefits when having Homestead Builders build their turnkey home or other building. Lumber is the number one choice in sustainable building materials and Homestead builders is part of the Wood Builders Association which gives them even better access to more cost-effective solutions for building customized homes and other buildings for their customers even faster.
The area around Bloomfield is beautiful, rich with forests and lakes. It’s the kind of place that will draw you in with its Midwestern charm. Bloomfield is a small town with less than 3,000 residents, making it one of those places where a neighbor feels more like family. Jeremey certainly has not been able to escape the charms of the town he grew up in and that shines through in the way he does business.
Whether he is building a literal foundation or one within his community, Jeremey is working hard to further his connections within the town in which he grew up.
How did you get started in your industry?
I started in the field of contracting right out of college. I have always had a passion for the act of building something out of nothing. So I worked hard towards the goal of one day owning my own businesses. I learned all of the industry ins and outs. When the opportunity presented itself, I took the leap and decided to start my own business so that is what I have done with Homestead Builders. When a lot of others were leaving the area around where I grew up, I decided to stick around and build a business here, that felt important to me. I felt like I was giving back to the area around where I grew up by becoming an establish business owner here. It felt like an accomplishment for sure. Another area I started to become more interested in as my business has grown is sustainability. It has been a pleasure to join with associations that are working toward a common goal and to also educate customers about all of the efforts we are putting forth toward that goal as well.
How do you make money in your field?
I charge based on the size of the project we are doing. I keep my rates competitive based on the current market conditions and I try to work with the customers also depending on their budget. Another great thing about being in the Wood Builders Association is that we can keep out lumber prices lower than the competition which gives us an edge over any other companies for sure. It also helps our customers which is a great thing that I am happy to be able to offer.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
If I recall correctly, I think it was during the second year that we were starting to turn a profit.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
The first few years when the business was new and I was learning the ins and outs of owning my own business, there were sometimes that I may have doubted. But I just reminded myself of what I had put into it at that point, which was pretty much my entire life, so I really had to just keep going and muscle through the doubts. After I pushed myself a little, I saw that I was foolish to doubt myself. I think a lot of entrepreneurs probably go through this period of doubt though.
Do you remember how you got your first client?
Word of mouth. In a small town like this, that is how you get a lot of business. Referrals are very important. Using signage is another great tool. People in small towns also notice every new home and building that pops up or is on the stage of being built. So if you have a sign in the yard that has your business information on it, you may get a phone call before the project is even complete, giving you more business.
What is one marketing strategy that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Along with the signs mentioned above and word of mouth, we have started to use social media more. It is a great way to expand our advertising area. It is already proving t be wildly successful. We are reaching a much wider audience by having an online presence.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your professional life?
It is always tough when I must let a vendor go but there are times when it is the best and wisest business decision. Vendor prices can be very close to one another but those small variances in process add up very quickly when you are buying in bulk from a vendor. There is a reason they say, “it’s not personal, it’s business”. You have to be able to separate the emotion from these decision so that you can make the tough calls for the sake of the business.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I think I am successful because I work hard, and I am consistent. Being consistent is good for yourself and also for everyone around you. It builds trust and loyalty. All of those things will help you to be successful in business.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Every time a building is completed, it is very satisfying. So, I guess I get to have a lot of satisfying moments in my business. I am also proud of the things I have accomplished this far in my life, knowing that I have so much more ahead of me.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I am excited just to see what growth there may be for the business in the coming years. I hope to be able to continue to expand, hire more workers, take on more projects and just get bigger and bigger.
What business books have inspired you?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz. It is a great and honest book about the hard parts of being an entrepreneur and running a business.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
A lot of people tried to talk me out of starting my own business, so I’d say to listen to your gut and ignore the negativity.