Each month, Majestic Kitchen & Bath Creations will feature a profile on an area leader in the residential building industry. This article highlights David Spetrino, Founder of PBC Design + Build.
David Spetrino knows one thing for certain – he doesn’t know everything. But that small nugget of wisdom may just be the key to his success. As a custom homebuilder, David has learned to lean on those who work for and with him, empowering his employees and instilling trust in the process. He has learned that getting the “why” of any situation requires asking good questions… and really listening to the answers. And he has learned that, sometimes, “I don’t know” is the smartest thing you can say.
What was your first exposure to the building industry?
As a kid, I spent every day after school and all day during the summer working on my “forts” – tree forts, underground forts, etc. Forts eventually morphed into something more useful once I was in my teens – skateboard ramps. My favorite stocking stuffers were one-pound boxes of 16 penny nails from the hardware store.
The transformative experience came at 14, when I worked for a homebuilder who was building his personal home in our neighborhood. I got to see everything from the clearing of the site to the installation of light bulbs. I loved it.
What is one important lesson you have learned along the way?
I probably learn a new lesson every day. This is such a dynamic business that you are always learning.
Truly, the one lesson that has crossed all levels of my professional life is to understand that not everyone is motivated in the same way. And, certainly, what motivated me in my 20s is completely different after several decades in this business, along with a big recession. The same goes for co-workers, subcontractors and, especially, clients.
I’ve learned that you have to ask better questions and truly hear what you’re being told. The sooner I understand the “why,” the better I am at helping gain trust, solve a problem or inspire confidence.
Who has motivated and inspired you the most?
This is really a hard one because I have been blessed with a lifetime of cheerleaders, including many teachers, from kindergarten to college. I always felt like my success was important to them. In turn, I took that as a serious obligation and I didn’t want to let them down.
Focusing on one person, though, it is without a doubt my wife, Kat. She is my favorite supporter – and, when necessary, my toughest critic – and it’s always from a place of love and genuine confidence in me and my passions.
Her design sensibilities are pitch-perfect and closely aligned with my own aesthetic, which makes living in our (her) home a treat. And in the rare chance we can collaborate on a project, she makes everything just a little better.
How do you build trust and loyalty within your organization?
I trust everyone that comes to work with us, at least until they give me a reason not to. But building that trust really comes down to empowering people to do something they love or giving them an opportunity to learn.
One of my favorite things about my job is getting to work with the people in our organization. Everyone, to their core, chose to be in this business. No one got “stuck” here or ran out of options.
It never dawned on me to expect loyalty from my co-workers. If anything, it’s the other way around – if you’re invested in our craft and our collective success, then I’m a fan of you; my loyalty doesn’t have any strings attached.
How do you handle tough decisions?
Typically, I break tough decisions into smaller parts and I try to put things into perspective.
Fortunately, I have made – and learned from – my mistakes, so certain decisions have become instinctual. Even though I’m an optimist, I think I have a fairly good sense of when things could go wrong. I’ve also stopped worrying about high- versus low-risk decisions and instead, I focus more on how equipped I am to manage the risk involved.
That changes the narrative for me in many situations.
What advice would you give those just starting out in the industry?
You must understand that you cannot know everything about a business that involves dozens of phases and upwards of 200 people or more to build one home. Couple that with clients who have never been more informed about homes and design, thanks to the entertainment factor of homebuilding on TV.
That said, a basic understanding of each trade involved – or at least aligning yourself with people who are willing to provide that education to you (in return for your loyalty and collaboration) – is the most valuable thing you can do.
More than 20 years ago, I was on the job site of my first “real” custom home to check on the progress when my plumber said he needed the valves. I said, “I’m on it!”
I was headed to the supply house when I turned around, went back to the site and found my plumber who, at this point, was under the house, so that I could ask (as quietly as I could), “What’s a valve?” I sort of had an idea, but not really.
The look on his face at that moment told me I had a lot to learn. But it also taught me that it’s better to ask questions – or at least fail quickly – rather than pretend to know what you’re doing and waste everyone’s time in the process.
For a quarter century, Majestic has offered a wide selection of products for homebuilders, from counter tops, shower enclosures, shelving, door hardware and accessories for kitchens and bathrooms, in North and South Carolina. Acquisitions just within the last year of many well-established companies – including Builders Glass & Hardware Inc. in Wilmington and similar businesses in Greensboro and Charlotte – allow Majestic to be the most professional trade partner. Visit www.gomajestic.com or call (910) 762-2252 for more information.