Awards and Press

Cost of renovations drop with recession: Collins

No doubt about it. These are challenging times for the home-remodeling business.

Ben Collins, who chairs the Remodelors Council of the Home Builders Association of Charlotte, is typical. Collins has 12 years in construction and remodeling, focusing on large-scale home renovations and additions. Three years ago, his company, Salins Group Inc., had 13 employees. Now, it’s down to Collins and one other worker, plus part-time office help.

“Most everyone that I’m talking with is very, very hesitant to hire people because of the fear of not getting the next job,” he says. “Before, you assumed you could add someone and be able to keep them busy.”

But the market for remodeling jobs is looking up. Collins just rehired a former superintendent on a part-time basis.

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Big Ideas – Ben Collins

Entrepreneurs talk about what they do and why they do it …

DETAILS, DETAILS

Position: President, Salins Group Inc.

Business: Provides general contracting services for building custom homes, additions and renovations

2007 revenue: $6 million

Web site:www.salinsgroup.com

Age: 45

Education: B.S. in business administration, College of Charleston, 1984

Experience: Sales manager, FedEx Custom Critical, 1984-90; vice president and partner, IMI Resort Properties, 1991-98; self-employed contractor, 1998-2001; president and owner, Salins Group Inc., 2001 to present.

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Residential contractor building his business again

Charlotte-based residential contractor Ben Collins, owner of the Salins Group, was almost a casualty of the Great Recession.  His pipeline of multimillion-dollar projects dried up. Clients with deep pockets were out of jobs.

Collins said he knew the market had fallen apart when he ran into a former client and Wachovia employee at Starbucks.

“He was a bond trader guy who goes in at 5 a.m. and comes home at 6:30 p.m.,” Collins said. “It was 10 in the morning … and he was just walking around with a cup of coffee, in a daze.