Be organized and keep your eyes on the road. Don’t let the market surprise you.
Hillan Homes is a Michigan-based company specializing in the design and construction of unique, energy-efficient homes. Patrick Raye, as the President of Hillan Homes, has been involved in the building of residential homes for the last 24 years. He has always had an interest in construction because of his involvement with his family’s business. Patrick is passionate about delivering quality and building homes with integrity. He feels the number one priority in building for families is making sure that homes are delivered on the customers vision. He strives each and every day to ensure that Hillan Homes operates with the customer’s best interest in mind.
Being a family man himself and having 4 children, ranging from three to 15, Patrick understands the ever-evolving dynamic that is home. Spending time with his wife and kids is very important. Even with busy sport and school schedules, Patrick’s family still sit down to family dinners and commit to spending the end of every day hanging out together (without phones or ipads…which can be a challenge).
It became apparent during his early 20’s that an office job was never going to fit his personality. Patrick needs to be busy and engaged and Hillan Homes offers a perfect work environment filled with unique challenges and hands-on activity.
Patrick is very interested in design and prides himself on not being a cookie cutter builder. Having completed over 2,000 homes of various sizes and value, he feels he has an expansive knowledge base of what can be achieved with today’s ever evolving materials and technology. He is looking forward to his future with Hillan Homes.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The name Hillan is a family name. Our logo, the tree, is an indicator of strength and growth. Hillan Homes was born out of a family dream to deliver an outstanding customer experience, while building strong relationships along the way. We are also committed to continuously growing and evolving as a business and as a workforce.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day starts very early for two reasons. First, getting the kids up, ready for school and out of the house. Second, I need to be up and ready for customer phone calls that usually start around 6:30/7am as well as calls from trades and superintendents. This pace generally keeps up for the entire day. A typical day will involve charging my phone battery 3 times! I have consistent involvement with my superintendents and always spend my days either at a job site or in the office. I like taking a customer’s vision for a home and making it actually work and then building it. It is interesting to see a final product that a family is enjoying.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I love idea of bringing back past trends. It is cool to see items like glass, shiplap and wallpaper being used again. We see the same thing with fashion as well. Certain things that were fashionable in the ‘60s or ‘70s go out of style for a while but then make a comeback decades later. I try to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate new trends in home-building before they happen.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I have ADD and I love lists and organization. I demand that anyone that works for me also utilize a list. Lists help you to organize your thoughts and plan your day out, one task at a time. It’s best to prioritize the most important tasks first and put those at the top of your list. I’ve found that making my employees use lists helps to keep jobs running smoothly and on time.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One habit of mine that’s made me more successful and productive is not following hot market trends. They are usually a flash in the pan. It’s easy to get caught up in following whatever trend is hot at the moment and this is where businesses can fail. Most of the time, if something is too good to be true, it probably is.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Never finance appliances. I did this and see a lot of other people do the same. Half the time, they die before they are paid off. You’re then stuck making payments on something you don’t have.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Customer service comes first above all else. I know it’s not exactly a revolutionary idea but it’s true. At the end of the day, we’re here to give our customers the best service possible and to make sure that each and every one of them ends up in a house that they’re proud to call home.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be organized and keep your eyes on the road. Don’t let the market surprise you. Staying ahead of things is important for any business and at Hillan Homes we do our best to anticipate changes in the market and adjust accordingly.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
It was difficult for me to let go of control. Having the faith in the people you’ve hired that they can execute their roles is what has grown our business. It’s essential for any business-owner to have trust in the people around them. This involves hiring the right people but also giving them the training they need to make decisions and operate independently when needed.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I had too much money invested in one place and when the market failed it took me with it. I overcame the bubble by seeing an opportunity in a city that had almost unlimited growth. The lesson to be learned here is that you should never keep all of your eggs in one basket.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I often find either myself or our laborers doing something where I think: “there has got to be a better way.” Most times, there is! There are always ways to save time and make jobs easier. Just think, even saving two or three minutes here and there adds up. While it may not be an idea or advice I think that one thing that business owners would love to tackle is wasting time on minutia.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Two weeks ago I gave each of my supers $100 to take their family to dinner. My supers work hard every day and they deserved something nice. Treat your workers well and they’re treat you well in return. If you want a successful business, keep your employees happy.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Definitely Microsoft Excel. It keeps us organized and helps us to keep projects on track and on budget. As I mentioned earlier, I love to keep lists. An Excel spreadsheet is essentially a digital list that’s great for numbers and data entry.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Big Russ and Me: Father and Son: Lessons of Life by Tim and Luke Russert. As a father of three boys, the book has been a great help. It offered advice and was provided a great understanding of the dynamic between father and son.
What is your favorite quote?
“It is what it is.” I’m not sure exactly who said that first but it remains true. Sometimes you’re hit with bad luck or an unfortunate situation that you can’t control. It’s best to just remember that saying and try to work the hand that you’ve been dealt.
- Family is just as important as work, if not more so
- The people I have working for me are better than I think they are sometimes
- The triumphs and the errors of the company really are my responsibility. Own both.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.