A-Son's Construction Inc.: Preserving Positive Partnerships
A-Son's Construction Inc. (ASONS) has spent the last decade growing the services it offers, first expanding throughout Indiana and then throughout much of the United States. Based out of Muncie, Ind., with regional offices in Southfield, Mich., and Columbus, Ohio, ASONS provides a one-stop shop for quality property preservation and construction services. The firm, formed in 1999, is owned by CEO Milan Thompson, his wife Carolyn Thompson and her son Jeff Beeson, for whom the company is named. The company specializes in serving the REO (real estate-owned) housing market and has evolved quite a bit from its original intentions.
The firm started out initially as a spinoff from the core business Carolyn Beeson Realty. ASONS was to be a local construction company that was going to buy and “flip” properties by reselling them through this real estate company. However, a twist of fate led the owners into the booming REO housing market before the 2007 housing crash, and the opportunity to grow the business to unimaginable heights. The owners of the firm realized early that lenders and banks needed prompt response times and quality work in servicing default properties and there were very few companies willing to provide these services, and now these services for the mortgage industry have become the main focus of ASONS.
ASONS is now a wildly successful construction and property preservation company with multiple locations across the Midwest in order to facilitate business in nearly all states east of the Mississippi River. The company is ever-expanding and is set to surge past last year’s $50 million revenue mark.
An Empire Built Out of Ruins
Milan Thompson shares how the business first got off the ground: “The very first house that we purchased was a HUD house. It had not been trashed out, hadn’t been cleaned out, and the grass was really high. Jeff complained to the servicing company about the condition of the property at the time of sale and was told that they didn’t have contractors to do this kind of work in our area. Jeff then got this crazy idea to work for this company as a contractor cleaning up their REO’s and not buy anymore properties.”
Only one house into its existence, and the focus of ASONS turned to property preservation, minor repairs and maintenance services. Through this quick change of direction ASONS found its niche and now partners with agents, investors, banks, and other national companies – an impressive clientele that now includes industry giants such as HUD , Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – to not only clean them up and maintain them through resale but in some cases revitalize crumbling, foreclosed properties.
“We have a repeat business this way,” informs Thompson. “We have a continuous stream of properties that we are maintaining or rehabbing as the customer wants them done.” In addition to being contracted directly by several banks and mortgage companies, ASONS has recently been awarded a GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) schedule contract for refurbishing government buildings, parks and military bases.
While most companies saw business decline starting in 2008, ASONS began to have more projects than ever. As home foreclosures increased across the nation, business for ASONS grew exponentially. Now blanketing the eastern half of the U.S., ASONS regularly services over 10,000 properties and employs over 100 people, with a subcontract network approaching 1,000, all of whom are well-trained and able to deliver exceptional customer service.
Well-oiled Property Preservation Routine
ASONS has firmly established its ability to deliver a multitude of customer needs for bank-owned properties. While most construction companies deal with the erection, demolition or renovation of buildings, ASONS is often primarily concerned with preservation.
ASONS puts in bids to property owners, and when approved the company begins a well-coordinated production of managing trusted subcontractors on the jobsite and promptly fitting together many pieces. The work overseen by ASONS begins with initial property preservation services. It is a swift operation that involves securing the property on behalf of the mortgagee within 24 hours. This is followed by trash-out services that are usually completed within 72 hours, which include initial lawn maintenance, pump outs, winterizations, plus correcting all health and safety issues. The transformation is monitored through a three-step quality control process and is captured with a series of before and after photos, which are documented online.
Past the initial cleanup, the firm offers recurring services, or ongoing property maintenance. This includes 24-hour emergency servicing with live operators during business hours, maintenance work such as yard work (mowing, shrub trimming, cleaning, snow removal), shoveling of walkways in the winter, monthly janitorial services, and quality-control inspections.
Along with property preservation and maintenance, a large part of ASONS work is the construction servicing it provides. ASONS prides itself on being able to complete all of a customer’s construction needs, including full interior repair, kitchen/bathroom remodels, appliance installs, HVAC, siding and window installation, drywall repairs/replacements, carpet/vinyl installation, painting (interior, exterior), and roof replacement/repairs.
With Expansion Comes Greater Challenges
ASONS' ongoing success has brought upon unexpected challenges. The largest one is the regional variances in housing laws and building codes to which ASONS must be adhere. In order to keep pace, management must maintain a strong internal database and disciplined information network.
Such a challenge keeps things interesting. No challenge poses too large of a hurdle, however, thanks to a trusted team of employees and subcontractors able to fulfill whatever tasks arise. Continuous training, education, and team-building with employees and vendors assures all involved have the tools and freedom necessary to do their job in a great work environment.
Another requirement that comes with such large growth is the firm’s need to upgrade the necessary technology to manage far-reaching projects.
“When we first started we only did one or two counties in Indiana and we had complete contact with our crews,” explains Thompson. “As you develop [the business] and you get further and further away … you have to have the software and create procedures that give you the ability to reach further than what you can see.”
Sometimes having to restrain the company’s growth is the biggest challenge for Thompson. “The potential for growth in the industry is huge,” he says. “The ability to say no, and not to bite off more than you can handle [is challenging]. You want to do more than you logically should. I wish I could grow faster, but I can’t.”
ASONS is thriving in spite of, and in part because of, the economic downturn, thanks greatly to its prioritizing of customer service. With a business model that allows for prompt, complete services, A-Son's Construction Inc. is positioned to spread an old-fashioned Midwestern work ethic and innovative operating systems throughout the United States as the company expands its exceptional client partnership and collaboration abilities.