Rob and his business partner Tommy, met at a very young age – around 13 years old. They hit it off right away because of their mutual interest in skateboarding. It snowballed into a long-lasting friendship and now, a business partnership. This is their story…
Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to make a business partnership work with your best friend? Well, then you need to hear this episode. Rob and Tommy have no doubt been through their ups and downs together. However, they can’t imagine doing business separately either. That’s because the strengths of each person compliment the other. And together they make a very strong company.
Inside this episode you’ll learn:
- How they got started, and what they’ve learned.
- It’s possible to start a business at a young age and succeed very well.
- Why clear communication is vital for a business partnership to last.
- Their ninja method for giving away 20+ business cards per week to their ideal clients.
- How they are using Instagram to grow their brand.
…and much more!
Don’t wait any longer. Listen to the entire episode today. You won’t be disappointed.
Rob’s Life Story
Rob was born in North Dakota. He was put up for adoption after birth, and was brought to Brooklyn to be raised by a couple: a carpenter and a social worker.
Because of his father’s work, he took an interest in carpentry right away and had full access to his father’s wood shop. He recalls going to his father’s work at a union shop, where some people would comment that kids like him shouldn’t be there because it’s unsafe and dangerous. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop him from trying out carpentry work.
As a teenager, Rob got in all kinds of trouble: drugs, alcohol, partying and doing graffiti stuff. His “saving grace” was his mother, who was diagnosed with cancer. After having a heartfelt conversation about changing his direction in life, and making her proud after she was gone, he decided to make a drastic site. He set his sights on being an adult and becoming self-sufficient.
He began by working odd jobs at the first. He started earning money and saving it for college. He eventually started working for a wall street company with his father’s friend. He wasn’t happy though, and vowed to never work in an office.
The Birth of Ditmas Park Renovations
When he met up again with his longtime friend Thomas, they started talking about creating their own business. So by late 2009, they pooled their resources together, processed the paperwork, and set up their own LLC. By 2010, they started operating their business.
Rob was 19 years old when they opened up their business. And like any other businesses, they experienced challenges and setbacks. They were stiffed because of their naiveness and lack of experience. Someone who promised to advertise their business in a newspaper ad even ran off with their money. This, of course caused them to dislike and distrust advertising with 3rd-party companies.
Instead of giving money to people to do the grunt work for them, they started from scratch, and did it themselves. Without a portfolio to show, they simply focused on branding and hard work. They created a logo and printed it on their T-Shirts and on their van. They also put a cardholder on their van so people can simply grab a card as they are walking down the street. This is such a brilliant move, and he said they need to refill their card holder at least once per week!
Since the business is situated in a small community where they live, it made sense to name their business after it. That way their neighbors will be able to identify immediately that they work in this neighborhood. Also, working became less stressful, because most of their jobs are very near to where they live.
It took both Rob and Tommy a long time to figure out what they needed to specialize in. Their niche is fairly broad as they remodel porches, bathrooms, kitchens, or basements. They even do exterior jobs. They focus primarily on old houses and old building renovations.
Thankfully, they navigated through it all and 6 years later, they’re still in business!
Thomas: A Partner and a Friend
Rob shares that both their personalities are different. While Thomas was more organized and loves systems, Rob is the opposite and thinks his brain is at hundred places at one time. Still their teamwork is good and they trust each other.
“There’s a lot of trust. There’s never an issue about money or anything like that. It’s basically like having a brother without the strings attached to being a brother… we’re passionate about what we do, and we trust each other. We work extremely well. As a team, we’re cohesive because of our differences.”
Each of them bring something unique to the table. They work out their schedules as best they can and are willing sacrifice for each other as necessary. When someone is away for a trip, the other steps up and vise versa. They also work with a small handful of people and sub contractors. They value their team very much.
Rob shares that at one point, there was no communication between them. What happened, was, they installed cubicles for employees, and thought that being in a quiet environment was a good step. It turned out that it wasn’t. They realized that with lack of communication, the team suffered because everyone is in their cubicles, doing their thing. They figured out their roles in the company and solved the problem right away.
Technology in Business
When utilizing technology tools for the business, the team only uses Apple Notes and sync everything with their devices. When there is an update, everyone receives it simultaneously. Quickbooks is also another tool they use for accounting.
Their official website, Ditmas Park Renovations, has been up for a very long time. Rob started it from scratch and he admits that the old website was horrible. They found a team who now handles the backend of their site.
Rob also took to social media, particularly Instagram. He wasn’t totally into it until later, and then started taking it seriously. He added that with this app, he is able to interact with homeowners and potential customers.
Books Rob Recommends:
Apps that Rob likes:
Where to Find Ditmas Park Renovations Online:
What’s your advice for contractors who are starting out?
“You realize there’s gonna be problems that are completely invisible to you at first. You just need to be prepared. Looking at your risk is another big thing for young contractors. Assess what you’re exposed to in terms of sub-contractors, liability, contract, etc. We quickly had to adjust our position to being more business-minded and protecting our investment.”