An Interview with EVO Built
Driven by a strong growth mindset and determination, Robby Kruyer & cousin Dean Baldwin set out to start a carpentry company but it quickly developed into a highend, well-respected building company within 18 months. Bowens took the opportunity to speak to the EVO Built duo and learn how they made the switch from timber to people in such a short timeframe.
How did you start EVO Built?
Pretty much as soon as I was qualified carpenter (age 26), I had an opportunity to build six units in Preston from start to finish. I had never built something from start to finish, so when I started, I realised I was out of my depth doing it by myself and called my cousin Dean. He had been doing high-end carpentry at the time and had ten years of experience, so it was great to get him on board.
At what point did you get your builders license?
After starting the company, we did some frames, lock up & fix carpentry for around a year to build up some cash flow, then we outsourced to high-end builders doing full carpentry packages to get some good experience. After 12 months, we decided to get our DBL licenses so we could start doing these jobs for ourselves. Dean ended up doing a lot of project management and I was doing estimating, so I was in the office a lot.
After doing some entry-level renovations and gradually moving up, both Dean and I were aiming for high-end renovations and builds. To do that, we needed to obtain our DBU so we could take on builds that were upwards of the $600,000 dollar insurance mark. We eventually obtained those licenses allowing us to run multiple renovations at one time.
What is the biggest challenge in going out on your own to start a business?
When you move from carpentry to building, one of the most difficult things is going from dealing with timber to people. You go from nailing timber to dealing with clients who, a lot of the time, have minimal experience in building so it’s a case of educating them for a smooth process.
“When you move from carpentry to building, one of the most difficult things is going from dealing with timber to people.”
In some cases, we have clients who have 90% of the build fully planned out. Everything is estimated, their trades are lined up, then they ask us to put it together and we go, well this is a dream. Then there are clients who have no building experience whatsoever and require coaching and training to truly understand the plans, which is not a bad thing at all. That’s half the fun, running the client through the plans, teaching them and showing them how it will look. You can see the excitement on their face.
It becomes tricky when there is a miscommunication between the builder & client, and the client mistakenly assumes something will be automatically done. For example, we had a recent large renovation where a client had assumed the front windows of the home would be replaced, but it wasn’t on the plans. When they realised it was going to cost them an additional $20,000, it was a big shock. I feel guilty for charging them, but it isn’t something the builder should pay for either.
“It becomes tricky when there is a miscommunication between the builder & client, and the client mistakenly assumes something will be automatically done.”
How do you think the communication between the client & builder could be improved on an industry level?
Unfortunately, a lot of clients will design a dream home based on what they want, without much consideration for their budget. Once they go and get it priced, it ends up being over what they are willing to spend. I think there is an industry-wide miscommunication in terms of what’s achievable with a client’s budget. If someone has $500,000 dollars in the bank, it should be one of the first things they communicate with their builder or architect.
“I think there is an industry-wide miscommunication in terms of what’s achievable with a client’s budget.”
It had become a consistent issue for us, to the point where we establish some key details before we quote a project. It starts with three simple questions: Do you have plans? Do you have permits? And what is your ideal budget? If there is no clear budget, we do not quote the job, because there is no open line of communication from the beginning.
We have begun charging our clients for quotes, because of the amount of work and detail we put into them. Our quotes are very transparent so if a client isn’t willing to invest in a fully detailed breakdown for their project, then we tend to feel they are just price shopping.
Personally, I would never invest a large amount of money into a builder that hasn’t got a very sophisticated quote that is down to the finest detail, and nor should a client. By investing in a detailed quote, the client is doing the due diligence to truly understand what they are getting for their money.
“By investing in a detailed quote, the client is doing the due diligence to truly understand what they are getting for their money.”
Your business has seen a lot of success in a short period of time, what’s the secret?
Dean and I attend a business coaching seminar every 12 weeks. It is ridiculously expensive, but worth every cent. Had we not attended these seminars, I don’t think we would be where we are at today, not at least in the time we achieved our current success.
“Had we not attended these seminars, I don’t think we would be where we are at today, not at least in the time we achieved our current success.”
A fundamental learning, I took out of these seminars is that success is not an end goal but something you live day by day. If success is measured by a future goal, once you reach it, you won’t be satisfied, and you’ll set another goal to achieve to be successful.
With that mindset, you embody success on a daily basis, so when you set those 1, 5 or 10-year goals, you are driven and have a positive mindset to reach them. But don’t let success always be in the future otherwise you will never truly experience it.