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Holland Brothers Construction: Thriving Success Story of a Bold Relocation to a New State

Company co-founder Andrew Holland shares how taking a big risk paid off.

Houzz Pro

MARCH 25, 2024

Andrew Holland was new to the construction industry when his brother, Caleb, and he combined their talents to form their eponymous firm in 2013, but he was not new to running a company. Holland was just 22 when he co-founded a firm specializing in waste services. After the exponential growth of that company, he made a successful exit and is now the co-founder of an equally successful construction firm, as well as an influencer who discusses entrepreneurship on his weekly podcast, The Andrew Holland Podcast.

Caleb brings technical expertise, having been in the construction business for over 20 years, while Andrew informs the firm’s success with deep financial and business knowledge. Holland shares his entrepreneurial tips and how their commitment to marketing, reliance on technology and openness to taking risks has been pivotal to growing their company and establishing a reputation for ultra-quality home construction, remodeling, and beautiful composite decks.

On photo below: Andrew Holland, CPA, Holland Brothers Construction

Keeping the Pedal on Growth 

When they started Holland Brothers Construction in their home state of Wisconsin in 2013, Andrew and Caleb embraced the region’s strong worth ethic, if not its brutally cold winters. “We started small, just like every company,” Holland says. “I took the experience that Caleb had, the business experience and financial knowledge that I had, and we slowly grew the company.”

At first, they focused on remodeling, and then eventually began building spec homes. In their hometown, Eau Claire, WI, over a period of 4 years, they pieced together multiple parcels of land to create their first residential development, which consisted of 19 residential lots on what Holland called “the last big, beautiful bluff within the City limits.” While multiple developers had looked at one parcel and determined it was not doable, the Holland Brothers took a different approach and by talking with neighbors, purchasing a few more surrounding parcels, turned it into an excellent success. While they did build 2 spec homes in that development (having plans to build all 19 homes), life happened, and things changed in a big way via a major geographic move.

On photo below: Caleb Holland. General Contractor, Holland Brothers Construction

Taking a Geographic Gamble 

After Holland unexpectedly received an offer he couldn’t refuse, thereby selling his waste services company six years into the founding of their construction firm, the Brothers took a big risk. “My brother and I looked at each other, and we were so sick of winter, we decided we were going to do something about it,” he says. “We said, you know what? If we're going to make a change, now's the time.”

Andrew had contacts and friends in the Southwest where sunshine prevailed more often than not. They picked up their families and their construction company and moved to the Phoenix area in Arizona. Employees also had the opportunity to move with the company, although all of them chose to stay in Wisconsin where their families were rooted.

It was not an easy adjustment, moving from a small midwest city to a sprawling metro area. They left behind their hometown, and lost the business connections they had forged with subcontractors, vendors and others. Andrew Holland led the way to Arizona first, and his brother soon followed. “It's tough starting over and starting from scratch because in Wisconsin, we knew so many people,” he says. “In doing that land development, you got to know everyone from city officials, subcontractors, vendors, and even other business owners. By moving, we lost all of those relationships and had to start over.”

But once in Phoenix, the Holland Brothers very quickly used their midwest-nice personalities and experience to quickly build relationships, meet with different municipalities to get the lay of the land, and began advertising with Houzz which was “a huge connector for us in terms of building the required relationships to grow and be successful!” Holland says.

While starting over is often hard (although the Holland Brothers don’t regret it for a second) some things were much easier, for example, doing outdoor construction in a warmer climate. In addition, since they had a lot more business experience this time around as compared to when they originally started the construction company, “you’ve learned from your mistakes so it’s easier to build again. You have a solid business foundation of experiences from which to draw upon that you can utilize to begin anew” Holland says, “and that most certainly makes things easier.” 

How Technology Helped The Transition

Entering a new region in the U.S, the Hollands had the experience, and they had the portfolio. Now they just needed the market.

“For us, in order to get started down here, it was important to market ourselves or find a good way to market,” Andrew Holland says. Before the move, the Holland Brothers had tried multiple business software to help them market and operate their company. From a results perspective, the various software utilized did not deliver. “We tried multiple business software/advertising platforms back in Wisconsin and they were all real failures,” he says of other business platforms. When a friend introduced Holland to Houzz Pro, while skeptical at first, but willing to try something they hadn’t in the past, he quickly learned through use how its features would help him market the company and run their firm more efficiently.

The firm chose Houzz Pro not only for its marketing tools, but to replace the disjointed system they had been using for invoicing, accounting and more. “After using it for even a month, I became a big believer” says Holland about using Houzz Pro. Facing the challenges of learning the Phoenix market and forging new connections, Holland, with Houzz Pro, now had the immediate marketing tools he needed for website creation, marketing campaigns and quality lead generation. The software also provided the integrated system for takeoffs and estimates, invoicing, online payments, and QuickBooks that he was seeking. “My expectations were blown away,” he says.” It took what typically took me back in Wisconsin 20 to 30 hours a week and shortened it down to two hours a week.”

Understand Your Financial Success

As a CPA, Holland is a numbers guy. He uses data to understand how the business is succeeding financially. “Failing to do so is a big reason firms close their doors”, he says. “It doesn’t matter what business you are in, if you don't know what projects are successful and what projects are not, from a financial perspective, how can you make any meaningful management decisions?” 

“That’s a huge component that is missing in the construction industry”, he says. “Plenty of business owners are incredibly skilled at their trade whether they are electricians, plumbers, HVAC, but they are less adept on the business side. Too often, because they don’t like dealing with business minutiae, they delay doing it. But really, it’s so crucial to running a successful business whether it is getting invoices out, collecting your invoicing, or managing the financials.”

The business side informs the construction side. “You need to know what projects are successful or not so you can learn from your bidding,” he says. Until finding Houzz Pro, “I’ve never been able to cost or easily track gross profit margins on projects. The software  has made that really easy for us.”

Find Your Competitive Advantage

Based on what customers tell the company co-founders in their reviews, it is the awesome customer service, high quality work and effective communication that make up their secret sauce. “For us, the work we put out is a reflection of us and our reputation,” Holland says. “Sacrificing on quality was never an option.” In Arizona, Holland quickly learned how dramatically markets can differ by region.

 “One of the things you learn in life is if you want quality, especially in construction, you get what you pay for.” In the Phoenix area, there was a small sector of clientele willing to pay for the top quality of work the Holland Brothers do.“Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” he says. “We adapted and learned from that.” They adopted a business strategy that focused on clientele seeking what they wanted to offer: “Supreme quality,” he says. “Is that going to make it a little more expensive? Absolutely.”  But the approach has paid off. They hear the praises from their customers time after time, and it goes something like this: “I don’t care what it costs because the responsiveness, the level of pride you guys take with your work is as if it’s your own home.”

Credit Wisconsin and their upbringing. “When you talk about sacrificing quality, it’s not in our DNA. We’re just not willing to do it,” he says. “It’s really easy for us because it’s really how we were raised and who we are.”

Get the Numbers Right

With a new market also came different pricing. “Obviously, estimating is an important part of any general contractor or subcontractor because you want to be competitive, but you want to make sure you are making money,” Holland says. 

The information that Houzz Pro provides his firm to create fast and accurate takeoffs was a huge advantage during their transition and beyond. Holland went from zero knowledge about the costs in the region to a strong confidence in them. “I was impressed at how accurate the costing information for our area was,” he says.“I used that so much at the beginning when I didn’t have a good idea of how to bid some of these projects because they were new, but more importantly, with the price fluctuations that were occurring in the market.”
Armed with the regional cost information, the rest of the learning process around estimating comes with experience, and trial and error. “You get the other 20% to 30% doing it actually on the job and putting out estimates and seeing what the costs are.

Keep the Revenues Flowing

Holland hears the same story from contractors time and time again. They do not have all their ducks in a row when it comes to their payment processes. “One of the number one reasons businesses fail is they forget about collecting the money,” Holland says. “It’s great to put estimates out there, it’s great to do an amazing job and it’s great to invoice people, but if you don’t collect on those invoices, you go bankrupt really quickly,” he says. 

Holland uses technology and specifically Houzz Pro to make it as easy as possible to bill clients and collect payments. “Because of how integrated Houzz has made estimates, invoicing and payments, it makes it easy for customers to pay the deposit when it’s due and to collect that final balance,” he says. 

Making it as convenient as possible for customers to pay is key to getting paid. “For me, it was so crucial that when a customer wants to pay, that they have an online, electronic option,” he says. “Because online payment is easy it gives any contractor using it that much more likelihood that they are not going to have those cash flow issues that are the number one demise of most small businesses,” he says. “Cash flow is king.”

Lay the Groundwork for the Future

The Holland Brothers look forward to growing their team in 2024 and beyond, while also being cognizant about the economy. “When I talk with business owners they are a little bit concerned about it,” he says. “They are wondering if their company will slow down and what they need to be prepared for.” For Holland, the answer is in one word: marketing.

“What we tend to do as entrepreneurs is, when you most need marketing when maybe the economy is not doing well, you are feeling like your bank account is not high enough, you want to pull away,” he says. He chooses the opposite tact. “You cannot stand back, you cannot hide in a hole and wait.” Launching a market campaign gives him confidence in their future growth. “When everyone else is thinking about pulling back because they are feeling a little bit uncertain, we are going full bore with Houzz Pro and other advertising campaigns,” he says. “And you know what happens when you do that? Since many others have slowed their marketing, yours gets much more attention, broader reach, and in turn, is that much more effective!”

He knows from experience how effective they are. When he owned the waste services firm, he faced a decision of whether to invest in marketing at a time when business was slowing. “We did it, and it completely changed everything,” he says. 

Share Your Wisdom

Holland supports the education and growth of other entrepreneurs and business owners through The Andrew Holland Podcast. Every week, he interviews guests who are entrepreneurs in various fields, including AI and other tech industries. He sees technology as essential to any business, especially construction, where people buy with their eyes. 

Without a website and rich portfolio, “You are not going to be competitive, particularly in an industry where a picture is truly worth 1,000 words,” he says. “If your firm’s website appears cobbled together and looks like an afterthought, customers are going to go elsewhere.” 

“Everything in business is a risk-reward calculation, and the risks of maintaining the status quo in terms of integrating technology in your business is much larger and costly than embracing tech,” he says. “I’m a believer that if you are going to maintain your competitive edge in the 21st century, you have to find ways to integrate technology into your company because if you don’t, your competitors are doing it and they are 5 to 10 times faster and more efficient than you are.”
Learn how technology can help you integrate your business processes and help you work faster and more efficiently. Try Houzz Pro today.

Houzz Pro is the all-in-one tool for marketing, project and client management built specifically for remodeling, build, and design professionals.

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