Chermak Construction, Inc.
Remodel and Roof Specialists
by Matt Loveridge
When you are as focused on the customer as Chermak Construction is, many business decisions fall into place. Addressing the question of breadth of services to offer, nineteen year-old Chermak Construction provides a full service menu: home repair services, minor remodeling, major renovations and additions, building design services, and a roofing division. Addressing the types of craftspeople they employ, Chermak Construction has 11 lead carpenters, 3 lead painters, and 4 lead roofers to complement their staff of 40 individuals. To better serve customers, Chermak Construction’s office staff includes a full time remodeling division manager and secretary, roofing division manager, accountant, estimator, receptionist, sales representatives and an AIBD certified building designer.
The “commitments to have a formal business office and a full time staff that is always available” are just two examples of what enhances customer service at Chermak Construction, according to the company President, Howard Chermak.
“The force of our success is built on the concept that our company is a family and the exceptional personalities of our employees are the engine that make this family operate,” Chermak explains. “Our goal is simple, we would like our customers to be part of our remodeling and roofing family forever”.
Chermak has grown his business based on three main principles: the company is considered a family, through the years he has invited an advisory board to constantly work on the company with him, and he believes in commitment to the community. All of these philosophies incorporate his original motto of ” Have Fun, Make Money, and Provide Opportunity”. Anyone who knows Howard Chermak understands he diligently works his motto.
The nature of residential remodeling, according to Chermak, is seemingly as simple as “taking a home that’s not meeting a family’s current needs and creating a home that does.” However, he also appreciates that the remodeling and roofing business is more omplicated than that. “Our customers have to be able to trust us,” Chermak states. “We earn our customers trust by doing excellent work, addressing their needs, and promptly resolving warranty issues.”
To own a remodeling company was not always Howard Chermak’s dream. After graduating from Edmonds High School, Chermak attended Western Washington State College (now Western Washington University) where he received a Bachelors Degree, with majors in Elementary Education and Speech Pathology. Following service in the Army stationed in Viet Nam, Chermak located to Northern Minnesota where he taught special education and speech therapy to students in the public school system. However, he discovered this work was not satisfying his creative needs.
Chermak had previous exposure to remodeling. While in high school he worked with his brother-in-law who remodeled homes on Queen Anne. In college, he worked as a sawyer and welder at an aluminum window company. And while teaching, he had done remodeling and painting work during the summers. So in 1980, he established Chermak Construction. “I enjoy this work because the whole process of creating something new and better with customers is exciting,” Chermak says. “It is enjoyable to see projects evolve from dreams to reality.”
Projects may end for Chermak Construction, but the customer relationships do not. Chermak Construction has been providing services for one homeowner in Laurelhurst for 19 years. The company also has second generation customers where the children of customers now have their own homes and call on Chermak Construction for remodeling work. “Our specialty is residential remodeling and roofing, pure and simple,” Chermak states. “We care about doing the work right at an affordable price and establishing long- term relationships with our customers.”
Chermak Construction approaches the subject of affordability in several ways. In-house designers help both the client and the company visualize the variables in construction given a particular set of financial constraints. “It’s not unusual for us to develop a design that meets the customer’s needs when others told them it couldn’t be done,” Chermak says. The company utilizes subcontractors and suppliers for long periods of time to receive better delivery, pricing, and service. Chermak Construction has worked with one subcontractor for 15 years.
The concept of partnering helps Chermak Construction address the subject of affordability in two ways: First, if a particular type of lumber or millwork is no longer available at a reasonable cost, Chermak will rely on their partnership with Dunn Lumber to find alternatives to avoid custom machining charges. “Matching materials we build into the home to existing materials is often a critical part of the project,” Chermak explains. Second, “by partnering and purchasing a large volume of material from one supplier, we receive better service and pricing on all our purchases and can pass those savings on to our customers.”
Chermak Construction specializes in residential remodeling and roofing. The company has worked on homes throughout the Seattle metropolitan area, including many historical buildings. The oldest home, that Chermak is aware of, was built in 1907. One clue to discovering this date was the wall-hung toilet in the home had the date stamped inside it. The toilet was so old it had been built with a leather hinge inside the water reservoir. The oldest building that Chermak believes the company has worked on was a Rotary Club project at the Edmonds Boy’s and Girl’s Club that was built in 1890. An interesting feature of this building was that the lumber used to frame the exterior stairway has lasted over 100 years without waterproofing.
The roofing division of Chermak Construction was added in 1994. The business had actually started 5 years earlier under someone else’s leadership and Chermak Construction acquired it. “I really liked the way this business operated and I had a lot of respect for the people behind it,” Chermak says.
The existence of a roofing division within Chermak Construction offers many advantages to the company and its customers. “The remodeling process is faster and easier for the customer since one company is performing all the work,” Chermak says. “Also, with the size of our staff we can move employees from one job to another, if needed, to stay on schedule.” And, with pickup trucks and 2 large dump trucks, Chermak states, “there’s usually no need for an unsightly dumpster and our customers have full use of their driveway.”
Howard Chermak has the professional designation of CGR, Certified Graduate RemodelorTM. Offered by the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) Remodelor’sTMCouncil, the designation is earned only after certain education is received and tests passed. With the company’s staff over-seeing most of the day-to-day operations, Chermak is freed up to focus on developing and maintaining customer relationships.
One reason Howard can relax about the day-to-day operations of the business is because Judy Chermak, his wife, oversees many of those details. Judy has been with the company for 11 years. Although Judy focuses her attention on administrative duties, accounting, personnel issues and employee benefits, she is closely involved with all details of the entire business.
There is no such thing as a typical remodel job. Chermak Construction has done a variety of different and unique projects, from small jobs that only require a couple hours of a carpenter’s time to whole house remodels. A project of interest was a 3,500 square foot Mercer Island waterfront rambler built in the 1920’s. With a concrete ceiling and roof, Chermak surmises the structure may have been a bomb shelter. The building was taken down to its floor, and a few exterior walls. The result is a contemporary, 7,000 square foot remodel with a second-story addition. The driveway was such that the materials for the bulkhead, rockeries and landscaping had to be delivered and installed by barge. The project included 2 architects and an interior designer.
“We pride ourselves on being able to listen to what the customer wants to achieve and then deliver that product at an affordable price,” Chermak explains. “We care about our customer’s satisfaction and we want them to be part of our remodeling and roofing family forever.” It is easy to see that the company is a reflection of the humor, friendliness, knowledge and commitment of its president.
Builder/Architect is proud to feature Chermak Construction, a company who knows its destiny is in its reputation.