Kerry Shackelford has learned that providing customers with materials he supplies himself can help make corrections easier, and it can keep costs down.
Shackelford's company, Museum Resources, specializes in restoration projects of historic buildings, including museums and older homes that need historically accurate design and materials. Shackelford credits building a broad network, a strong work ethic and a commitment to customer satisfaction with his success in taking the obscure, specialized field into a lucrative business.
"He pays attention to the historical details and the structure," said Bill Hancock, exhibits maintenance director for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. "He goes through great pains to recreate historical finishes."
To keep costs low, Museum Resources produces more than 90 percent of it own materials. Shackelford says that too many people in the restoration business are completely at the mercy of the suppliers.
"If the suppliers can't supply it, if they can't deliver it on time, if they want five times what it's really worth, you don't have any option, you have to buy it," he said. "We will literally cut the trees down, build the log building, make the shingles, make the flooring, the only thing in that building we won't do, is make the nails."
Brian Bystry, president of Progressive Contracting of Owings, Md., says the more important thing is the labor force used for projects.
"It's very much more costly, and it's very much more specialized. You don't have as many artisans that can do the work. You need people who are qualified to do this project, it's not something you want to really train people on the job," he said.
"If you do a restoration on a historic structure, the most important thing is to save the historic fabric. You need to make sure that you put the right set of eyes on any historic project."
Bystry's company recently lost a bid for a restoration project at Freedom Park in James City County that Museum Resources won for $400,000.
Understanding that some projects are too big to handle or too demanding also keeps Museum Resources' credibility high.
"My biggest problem is saying yes," Shackelford said. Last year he had to turn down an opportunity to bid on a contract that needed completion in 60 days. He knew that the project would take longer. He credits his honesty and forthrightness with the same museum contracting with him for another project.
When a customer complained that shingles Museum Resources had supplied to him were not up to specifications, Shackelford hopped on a plane and inspected the job. Even after finding that the company was not at fault, he was able to supply more shingles free of cost because Museum Resources produced them.
"I believe that if a customer says, 'I'm not satisfied,' that's all I need to know," he said. "The very best advertising you can have is for somebody to say that Museum Resources did this for us, and we had a minor complaint, they were able to take care of it." nCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times