All the Right Pieces

All the right pieces, team photo, Urbandale, Iowa.

 Fleming Construction and Remodeling Contractors team up as the new Remodeling Contractors.

TO HEAR THEM TELL IT, Zak Fleming and Marc Black of Fleming Construction got the better deal when their company merged with Rollie Clarkson’s Remodeling Contractors in May. Clarkson would tell you differently.

Maybe that’s the best indication that this merger was a win for everyone involved, including the company’s clients.
Fleming and Black, who’ve each spent their entire careers in the construction industry, have long looked to Clarkson as a mentor.

“Rollie got both of us involved in the Remodelers Council,” says Fleming. “He’s just been a great mentor to both Marc and me. Merging his company with ours just makes sense. It helped create an exit strategy for him. And he’s mentored so many people that work here, we can just keep learning from him.”

According to Clarkson, “I am not going anywhere. They’ll have to push me out of here in a wheelchair.”

Joking aside, all three men acknowledge that the merger was a perfect fit despite the timing. “The quarantine hit just as we were finalizing the merger,” Fleming says. “But it became clear pretty quickly that this was the right decision.”

This is the sixth time Fleming’s company has merged with another. “Our mergers have worked in a more cooperative, collaborative way,” Fleming says. “Rollie is just the latest we’ve wrapped into our business fold.”

Over the past several years, the Fleming Construction banner has incorporated Donna Alley of Imagine Interior Art and Design, Scott Spetman of TechBuilder, Brent Williams of Ridgeline Construction, and Duane Berner of DB Building. This latest collaboration also involved a change of name, bringing all aspects of the business under the Remodeling Contractors brand.

Each of the professionals who has joined the Fleming team has brought unique skills to the table, enabling the company to offer more-comprehensive services to their clients. Clarkson’s addition does the same.

In the few weeks since moving into the Fleming Construction offices, Clarkson says he’s enjoyed getting a glimpse of how he’ll fit into the team. “I’m honored Marc and Zak wanted to involve me in the future of their business. Zak even gave me his office, so that was a good start,” he jokes. “For the first time in my life, I had to get up and go to work for someone. But it’s great being a part of this and having people to bounce ideas off and share ideas and concerns.”

Clarkson describes Fleming as the visionary, whose creativity enables the team to come up with innovative ways to solve problems. Black, on the other hand, is good at keeping Fleming’s feet on the ground.

Fleming says, “Marc looks at the business in a way that’s different than I do, but our goals are the same. And Rollie’s experience brings a calmness to things. His years in the business, that sense of ‘been there, seen that,’ provide a wisdom that everyone on our staff listens to and appreciates.”

Although the group is still working out the details, Clarkson’s presence will enable a better division of labor.

“Rollie gets to remove all the ‘owner’ hats and dedicate himself to full-time sales,” says Black. “He’s a people person, and clients are really comfortable with him, so we’re excited to see him develop that role. And Scott [Spetman], who’s been dividing his time between sales and design, can now focus on coordinating the design process.”

“I get to do the fun stuff and spend time with people, with none of the headaches of payroll and accounting,” Clarkson says.

In addition to offering an even better value to their clients due to the anticipated increase in efficiency, the new Remodeling Contractors will be introducing and expanding some services.

“We introduced a handyman division in January to help our clients with smaller projects and maintenance needs,” Fleming says. “Since launching that, we’ve realized that a lot of homeowners have projects that fall somewhere in between.”

Clarkson’s former employees—who have joined the new Remodeling Contractors staff—are skilled at what Black terms quick-turnaround remodeling, the types of projects that go beyond handyman work but are not extensive enough to require full design services. “They know how to get those types of projects done well and done efficiently,” Black says. Incorporating that expertise into the company’s services allows Remodeling Contractors to tap into an emerging market.

The team is currently working out the details of this restructuring but anticipates introducing a three-tiered service offering: handyman, express remodeling, and full-service design and remodeling.

Among the 11-member staff, Fleming estimates they have nearly 250 years of combined experience in home construction and remodeling. “One of the benefits of bringing Rollie’s team on board is that work has become even more enjoyable,” Fleming says. “We can all work a normal 40-hour week, and no one has to micromanage anything because we have the right people in the right roles.”

Despite the uncertainty of the current economy and the unknowns for the local construction industry, the Remodeling Contractors team is excited about the future. “We’re all optimists,” says Clarkson. “You have to be if you’re an entrepreneur. We make a really good team.”

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