The rapid rise of a master homebuilder
There’s a lot you can learn from Jason Black.
In just five years, Black has taken Artisan Signature Homes, the company he cofounded and operates, from an idea to one of the top high-end custom homebuilders in Kentucky. In a typical year, he and his team will deliver eight homes, or about one every six weeks. His homes range from $400K to $2 million on up, with an average home value of $1.5 million.
You may be thinking, “How did this guy go from a start-up to a top custom homebuilder in just five years?” He leaves no job behind.
Small or large, new construction or a remodeling project, they all have the power to make new friends, circulate his name, win referrals, and help his company become the first one folks turn to when it’s time to build, well, nearly anything.
Small project, big impact
Jason Black understands how responding to a small favor today can morph into a multimillion-dollar home deal tomorrow. So when a homeowner he knew from his Stonecroft Homes days asked him if he could help with a small replacement project, Black was all in.
The project? Swap out the entry door for a new one.
Black knows few things can so quickly transform a home exterior like a new entry door. “It’s a huge part of the design,” he says. “It’s the first thing guests see when they arrive to your home. It’s a great chance to highlight the front facade with something unique. That’s why we originally specified an eight-foot-by-three-foot door for this particular home. It makes things a bit more grand.”
Meeting with the homeowner quickly revealed why the old door had to go.
“We built the home for the owner seven or eight years ago. It’s in a pleasant, walkable community called Norton Commons. The homes are close to the street with a lot of front porches,” Black explains. “When we designed the home, we put in a solid wood front door. Now they want a way to bring more natural light into the foyer.”
But what door? Glass, yes. But how much glass? Stick with wood, like the present door? Or make the move to fiberglass?
JELD-WEN’s vast door palette
“We sat down with the homeowner and went through the JELD-WEN website. We’ve had really good luck with JELD-WEN’s line of Smooth-Pro™ doors. They have a great selection. Their product is very consistent, never any surprises. JELD-WEN is one of the best companies we work with,” Black reports.
The primary rationale for the new door was natural light. Black presented an assortment of doors with three-quarter glass panels, the bottom quarter solid. They narrowed their selection down to four or five models, with the ultimate winner being a stunning Smooth-Pro Fiberglass door in Naval Blue.
Besides the large glass reveal, the new door also broke ground in other ways:
- Fiberglass. The west-facing front porch protected the old wood door from the elements, save one: a searing afternoon sun. Over time, that exposure caused mild warping, diminishing weather sealing. However, the homeowner’s big headache was annual maintenance. “The homeowner was tired of refinishing. He had the door refinished a couple of times and also put a sealer on each year. He had enough,” Black says.
As a rule, Black always gives folks the option of staying with wood. “Wood doors are awesome and beautiful,” he says. “But I also make clear maintenance is required. An eight-foot fiberglass door will stay true over time and have less movement. It means a tighter weather seal. We’ve transitioned to more fiberglass entry doors in our projects because of maintenance. Less maintenance and upkeep means less cost and trouble for me over the life of the home.”
- Color. For a jolt of playful contrast, the homeowner opted for Sherwin-Williams’ 2020 color of the year, Naval, which Black encouraged. “It’s been a popular color lately. It’s rich, a little bold. The home exterior is a lighter color, so Naval will really pop.” Black notes other trending entry door colors include softer blues, aqua, light and dark grays, pastels, and, recently, even pink.
Black ordered the replacement door factory prefinished, a practice he limits to remodel work only. JELD-WEN offers 33 factory-finished, on-trend exterior door color options with the Smooth-Pro door line. “Prefinished saves us time and presents a nice professional finish. Plus, it’s a one-day exterior transformation, which owners love.” [NC1] [PN2]
Bursting project pipeline
A small job like this exemplifies the discipline and professionalism Black and his team bring to every job. That process has proved decisive in the success of Artisan Signature Homes and a powerful differentiator in a crowded marketplace. If Black listed his tenets of success, they might go like this:
- Take no job for granted, no matter how small.
- Listen. Listen. Listen.
- Think critically. Offer up competing solutions to challenge thinking.
- Don’t shy away from using social media. Black and his wife have posted more than 80 YouTube videos on their website, offering charming sneak peek tours of the latest Artisan creations.
- Stay on-trend with ideas and options. Be an authority.
- Partner with companies that delight through choice, performance, and consistency. In Black’s view, JELD-WEN is the industry standard. “Service is so important. All I ask is the company stand behind their products and maintain open communication. JELD-WEN is always there for us.”
Little things, perhaps. But they do lay seeds that can flower in rewarding ways: in spite of the pandemic, Black says, “we’ve had more requests for new builds in the last three or four months than we’ve had in the last two years.”
So which door did he actually end up getting? [NC1]
[PN2]Added above and highlighted