David Spetrino Builds Construction’s Next Generation
See his approach to raising up a younger homebuilding workforce
David Spetrino was always fascinated by the concept of building things from scratch. As a child, he built treehouses and forts; today he is the CEO of award-winning firm PBC Design + Build in Wilmington, North Carolina, specializing in custom luxury homes. Open for more than 22 years, the firm has received the prestigious Guildmaster Award for service excellence, and one of its homes was part of the Parade of Homes put on by the Wilmington Cape Fear Home Builders Association. But the accolades aren’t what drives Spetrino; the feeling of fulfillment does. “It’s the ability to create something that evokes emotion, something that’s lasting,” he says. “We’ve built many homes for many different types of people, but one of the greatest joys is always that look on our client’s face.”
Handing Down the Tradition
Spetrino hopes to pass on his knowledge and expertise to others and preserve the craft of building. “There’s not a whole lot of things left that are still truly handmade, and homes are one of those things,” he says. “I believe my part is to help build up that next generation of builders and craftsmen.” Creating something concrete and having something to show for your time gives him a feeling of accomplishment, and he wants to share that with others. “Being a mason is backbreaking work, but when you do it well, you can walk away and look at a full day’s work and feel good,” he says. “You may be tired, but you don’t feel like your time wasn’t well spent. That’s the part of what I’m hoping we see as an industry going forward.”
The key to igniting the next generation of enthused builders is patience, he believes. “If you’re not willing to take the time with a 20-year-old kid and show him your craft or your trade, because you just can’t be bothered with all their questions, then you’re not going to help solve the problem we have as an industry,” he says. That’s why Spetrino is passionate about helping the next generation learn from his experience—including his failures. “If you want to learn this craft, I don’t care where you came from, who you are, what you look like. If this is something that’s important to you, everyone on our team will break their neck trying to share their knowledge and their experiences and their failures,” he says.
The Value of Technology
So what is Spetrino’s top piece of advice for aspiring builders? Embrace technology. Spetrino uses Houzz Pro software to streamline the way he runs his business. “When we discovered Houzz, it was no different than when the caveman found fire,” he says. “In short, Houzz Pro makes my life easier. It helps us be more efficient with time.”
What he values most is how the platform facilitates communication with his clients, which he believes is the key to success in this industry. Houzz Pro’s CRM dashboard features a built-in messaging platform that enables prompt communication with clients, as well as a project timeline and daily log where clients can see the status of a project without having to ask for constant updates. “We have the technology and the tools to be able to keep our client in the loop,” Spetrino says. “And if I’ve learned anything in this business, it’s that informed clients tend to breathe. They tend to relax. They tend to trust that they’ve made a good decision, and that allows us to do what we do really well.”
Another reason Spetrino loves Houzz Pro is that it’s a visual platform, which allows him to better understand clients’ ideas and communicate his vision to them. He’s a big fan of Houzz ideabooks, by which clients and builders can share and collaborate on inspiration images. “The ability to instantaneously grab ideas from a client or from a home that we’re building, park them in an ideabook, and then sit on the phone with a client and have them see the same thing I was seeing at the same exact time was a game changer,” he says. “That was when I knew that the world was changing, and if I didn’t get on board, I was gonna be left behind.”
Houzz Pro has also been an effective marketing tool, putting his business in front of the right people through targeted advertising. “It helped us fine-tune an understanding of who our market was. We immediately saw results where people were finding us, spending a lot of time on our website and saving a lot of our images,” he says. “Being able to fine-tune our audience to the type of jobs that we’re gonna do, the budget they have, their geographic location…all those things played into it.”
And finally, Spetrino appreciates the validation and credibility that comes with being a repeat Best of Houzz award winner. “To be recognized through Best of Houzz was not only exciting and thrilling, but it was a validation that our work mattered, and what we were doing made a difference,” he says. “It’s nice to be recognized, but it’s also nice to let our existing and even our potential clients know, ‘Hey, we are important.’ That’s why it’s so important to our team, to me personally, and to our clients.”
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